Location: Vedauwoo, WY

Location in Sky: T6 Eri- HP 17651 (Diagonal off of Orion's Left Foot)

Time: Just before 7:00 pm, 1-17-09

Description:

0:00 sec - HP 17651 Begins to increase in Brightness
+0:02 sec - HP 17651 Reaches peak brightness (4x Brighter than all other stars)
+0:03 sec - HP 17651 Begins to decrease in Brightness
+0:20 sec - HP 17651 Reaches brightness comparable to surrounding stars

The bright light seen was completely stationary the entire time.

This was seen without instruments, and was only noticed due to the incredible brightness of the Star.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what this could have been?

My best guess was something entering the atmosphere, heading directly at us. But it took about 20 sec to bring itself back down to normal brightness, which seems far too long for something like that.

Thanks for the help!