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View Full Version : What did I see? Oh, and hello.



david perry
2008-Nov-01, 03:58 PM
Hello everyone, I am david from Salisbury. On and off interest in actual observing, have a 500mm long reflector and lots of clouds!

I was flying about a month ago down by the canaries IIRC when I saw above me a bright light. It looked bright enough to bee the lights from another aircraft except that it was faster. (I was at about 35000ft on the way home). It went overhead and if I offset my vision I could perceive what appeared to be a stream of white gas trailing behind the light for quite some distance - about the distance a contrail might but the trail was a "plume" rather than a simple "trail". As the light went behind me it changed slightly in the sunlight (it was night time for me) and then vanished, as I have seen satellites do before. i THINK I saw the ISS, but the plume of smoke / dust leaves me thinking I don't really know.:whistle:

David

schlaugh
2008-Nov-01, 04:06 PM
Sounds like re-entering space junk since you describe a relatively slow moving object. Space junk reenters at ~17,000 mph as compared to meteors which often hit the atmosphere at ~25,000 mph (and up).

Welcome to BAUT!

david perry
2008-Nov-01, 04:10 PM
Thanks Schlaugh, no it wasn't a metorite. I've seen quite a few of those and this was very different. But the junk theory is good, hadnt thought of that.

david

eburacum45
2008-Nov-03, 08:29 AM
Really, it probably was a meteor, (rather than a meteorite; that label is reserved for the material that reaches the ground, and is a geological term in origin). If it was as bright as you say it was probably a fireball or bolide, brighter than Venus:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor#Fireball
they are both rare, and variable, and it is unlikely that you have seen all the variations. Fireballs can be white, or greenish, or yellow; I've only ever seen one, and it was orange. The different colours depend on a lot of factors- the speed of the object, the height at which it starts to glow, the mass, the composition, whether it disintegrates or explodes- all of these things affect the appearance, so that no two fireballs are identical.

In fact the one I saw was probably space junk, as it was moving quite slowly- but I can't say for sure; perhaps an expert meteor watcher might have known the difference.

If I were lucky enough to see another fireball I would not expect it to resemble the one I saw years ago, or indeed anything else I have ever seen; that is why having seen a meteor in the past does not necessarily mean that you would recognise the next bolide or fireball that you see.

david perry
2008-Nov-03, 10:01 AM
eburacum45 thanks for the info. I suppose it had the attributes of a meteor that a layman (me) might associate - bright sphere, fast moving and a long tail. So I count myself lucky!

I have the right job though, airline pilot, and have been fortunate enough to see many things of interest. Except Elvis and UFOs.

David

slang
2008-Nov-03, 02:10 PM
For an example, check the thread Guelph attacked by meteors (http://www.bautforum.com/astronomy/80621-guelph-attacked-meteors.html), in this forum, from a few days ago. Post #4 has movies from several vantage points.

trinitree88
2008-Nov-03, 05:01 PM
Hello everyone, I am david from Salisbury. On and off interest in actual observing, have a 500mm long reflector and lots of clouds!

I was flying about a month ago down by the canaries IIRC when I saw above me a bright light. It looked bright enough to bee the lights from another aircraft except that it was faster. (I was at about 35000ft on the way home). It went overhead and if I offset my vision I could perceive what appeared to be a stream of white gas trailing behind the light for quite some distance - about the distance a contrail might but the trail was a "plume" rather than a simple "trail". As the light went behind me it changed slightly in the sunlight (it was night time for me) and then vanished, as I have seen satellites do before. i THINK I saw the ISS, but the plume of smoke / dust leaves me thinking I don't really know.:whistle:

David


Could it have been the ammonia tank? see:http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?p=2075399

david perry
2008-Nov-04, 11:08 AM
Could it have been the ammonia tank? see:http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?p=2075399

No, wrong date.
D