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View Full Version : Can anyone tell me what I saw last night? (And it wasn't a UFO!)



StarryJulia
2010-Jun-10, 02:06 PM
Hi, I've been an amateur astronomer for almost 2 years, and I've spent a lot of time out at night stargazing. I live in a suburb of Youngstown, OH. Last night it was pretty clear and the humidity and dew points were low. I went out around 11:10 with my 11 x 80 binoculars and was just doing some casual stargazing. I was facing in an easterly direction and had been looking at Vega. I dropped the binoculars to get a look at how many stars I could see since I deal with some light pollution. Down to the left of Vega, about 5 degrees away, I saw a bright, yellow-orange flash. It lasted for around 3 seconds. It was very bright, and very intense. I went in and checked Heavens Above, but didn't find anything in my area in that location that would look that color. I've seen satellites, iridium flares, the ISS, I've been tracking satellites since 1986, but I've never seen anything quite like this before. Any ideas as to what it could have been?

Swift
2010-Jun-10, 03:19 PM
Hi StarryJulia, welcome to BAUT. If you weren't aware, newbie's post have to be approved by a moderator, as part of our anti-spam measures, and it is sometimes awhile till one of us gets to it.

My first suggestions would have been Heavens Above, but it sound like you know the drill.

At this point, I'd have to guess a flare from another satellite or a maybe a meteor observed straight on.

John Jaksich
2010-Jun-10, 03:48 PM
Hi StarryJulia---

I also agree with Swift in regards to the meteor siting---I saw my first one about 2002 and it lit up most of Northern Cental California---my first thought was the "two-dreaded sodium lines" in visible spectrum.

Welcome to BAUT

Clear Skies!

astromark
2010-Jun-11, 07:32 AM
You have described a head on meteor entry burn. If you had herd it, it might have been under 45,000 feet and coming straight at you... :eh:
make a wish... its said to be lucky.
Looking at the other possible explanations I soon drift back to a object burning to destruction on entering the upper atmosphere... as Swift said...
As with any satellite observation there would be some apparent movement. A distant nova ? would be visible for weeks., and what else is there ?

StarryJulia
2010-Jun-12, 02:05 AM
Sounds like it might have been the meteor...was just a bit surprising since I'd never seen one that color nor one that looked quite like that before. I immediately checked Heavens Above, and when I found nothing to match I was thinking, Hmmmmm, where can I go for some thoughts on what I saw, and I thought of Bad astronomy right away. Didn't want to post anyplace else, too many "You saw a UFO!" people out there. 25 years of astronomy, countless nights out and no UFOs...LOL. Unfortunately, that's what most people ask me when they find out I'm an amateur astronomer...sigh...how many UFOs have I seen, and am I watching for the Planet Nibaru...and what are my thoughts on the Mayan calendar thingy...double sigh