View Full Version : Iridium Satellite flares

2003-Mar-19, 10:07 AM
Last night and tonight, courtesy of http://www.heavens-above.com, I saw my first two Iridium flares. Both were magnitude -8 and appeared in blue sky, no more than 21 minutes after sunset. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing some in black sky.

Provided the sky was completely dark and one's eyes dark-adapted, would the flares be bright enough to be seen from an aircraft? By this, I mean could they be seen projected on to, and lighting up, land or sea?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kiwi on 2003-03-19 05:40 ]</font>

2003-Mar-19, 01:48 PM
You mean, like seeing the circle of a search light beam upon the Earth? Interesting question.

I don't think they're that bright, but I haven't calculated anything. One thing you notice when you go to heaven's above (http://www.heavens-above.com/), is that the places where you see -8 flares are narrow paths, but you can be many kilometers away from that path and still see the same flare as a -6 or -2. So the beam is not that sharply defined, it seems.

Just imagine someone holding up a mirror a couple hundred miles away, and reflecting the sun's image back at you.