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Thread: Blinking Satellite?

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Question Blinking Satellite

    hi guys,

    Tonight I was just looking at the stars (around Orion specifically) and saw something flash. I thought it was a plane, nothing special. A few flashes later, I still thought it was a plane but I noticed it was staying in the same general area, so I started paying attention with my binoculars. It was definitely saying in the same position, and flashing every ~9 secs or thereabouts. Just wondering, apart from the random satellite that has been set into a spin, is this a normal thing? Am I supposed to be seeing this? I guess if it was a "spy satellite" they wouldn't advertise it by putting a bigass flashing light on it, but still. I went inside to do some things and when I came out, it was still in the same position relative to the trees, but Betelgeuse was farther away than it had been. Maybe a geosynch?

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    190
    Hmm. I've seen 'flashing' satellites before, but they were always moving across the sky. I wouldn't call it a flash, it was more of an orange/copper colored, slowly pulsating dot.

    It's odd that it would be stationary; I'm not sure if it would be possible to see a geostationary satellite with the unaided eye. Did you notice any particular color?

    If you provide a specific time, your location, and the location/direction of the object in the sky, some folks on here (I'd give it a shot) might be able to identify a possible satellite.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    190
    I found this.

    Going by your location listed, 'Durham, NC', and near the time of your posting, 2:45a - 3:00a, and right near Orion, there was an amateur satellite (AO-27) passing by. It moves very slowly across the sky and it does appear that it is, in-fact, rotating.



    http://www.ao27.org/AO27/index.shtml

    http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/satel...o.php?satID=7l

    http://www.ao27.org/AO27/tepr.html



    Sure is a cute lil bugger!

    *EDIT* Retraction in light of new info.
    Last edited by Bobbar; 2010-Nov-12 at 01:32 PM.

  4. #34
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    Nov 2010
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    Thumbs up hmm

    You seem to know more about this stuff than I do, and it's certainly possible that it was moving very slowly. I didn't notice a color, just a flash; maybe white or light blue? I was looking southwest at around a 50 degree angle from the horizon. Basically, at 2:50 am I was looking at Betelgeuse and noticed the flash maybe a couple inches at arm's length down and to the left. Do you think that something two feet square could produce such a bright flash by reflecting sunlight? Kinda cool to think that I just happened to see something that's been in space since 1993, kinda like it's saying "hey! I'm still here!"

    Thanks for finding that info for me, I had no idea where to look.

  5. #35
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    Dec 2006
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    With a 100 minute period it would move rapidly against the stars.

    From NC the geostationary belt is near the declination of the Orion Nebula. Dead communications satellites are placed in higher (250 miles higher in most cases) orbits and left to do their own thing. They will wonder from the belt but will still be in that area. Most, if not all, of today's working ones are non rotating. Early ones did rotate for stability. If a rotating one did catch the sun just right they could flash as described. Since no one seems to follow these dead birds it might be hard pinning down which one it is. But likely to be one of these old dead ones. They are no longer geostationary being too high for that but the motion would be so slow they'd appear to be geostationary to the casual observer. A fixed telescope with reticule would be needed to see the motion it would be so slow.

    Rick

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    12,565
    Any satellite in geostationary orbit that I know of would be too faint
    to see naked eye. More likely is that it is either a satellite in a Molniya
    orbit or a rocket booster in a similar, highly-elliptical orbit. It would be
    moving very slowly near apogee, and would be in sunlight. The big
    US spy satellites are in Molniya orbits. You might see reflections from
    their solar panels.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
    http://www.FreeMars.org/jeff/

    "I find astronomy very interesting, but I wouldn't if I thought we
    were just going to sit here and look." -- "Van Rijn"

    "The other planets? Well, they just happen to be there, but the
    point of rockets is to explore them!" -- Kai Yeves

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    190
    Quote Originally Posted by RickJ View Post
    With a 100 minute period it would move rapidly against the stars.

    From NC the geostationary belt is near the declination of the Orion Nebula. Dead communications satellites are placed in higher (250 miles higher in most cases) orbits and left to do their own thing. They will wonder from the belt but will still be in that area. Most, if not all, of today's working ones are non rotating. Early ones did rotate for stability. If a rotating one did catch the sun just right they could flash as described. Since no one seems to follow these dead birds it might be hard pinning down which one it is. But likely to be one of these old dead ones. They are no longer geostationary being too high for that but the motion would be so slow they'd appear to be geostationary to the casual observer. A fixed telescope with reticule would be needed to see the motion it would be so slow.

    Rick
    I didn't notice the period; you're right!

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    1

    Blinking satelite with naked eye

    Last night I observed for the first time what appeared to be a satelite that was blinking on and off. It was moving at the same speed as a setelite would and seemed to be at the same altitude. I have never seen this before! It blinked about 3 times and then dissapeared for about 4 seconds, and then repeated the cycle.

    I decided not to use my telescope last night, but just look at the stars. The object was moving South. The blinking was brighter than the reflected light from a satelite and the last blink was extremely bright. a split second after the last blink I observed a "shooting star" from the south to the north. This was the second time I have observed a shooting star at the same time I have observed an object that moves and looks different to your normal satelite.

    Luckily my wife also observed this, otherwise I would have questionen my sanity.

  9. #39
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    Sep 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by lukeskywalker View Post
    The blinking was brighter than the reflected light from a satelite and the last blink was extremely bright.
    Have you ever seen in Iridium flare? They can be brighter than even Venus.

  10. #40
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    Dec 2004
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    The fact that it blinked about 3 times, disappeared for about
    4 seconds, then repeated the cycle indicates that if it is an
    Iridium satellite, it is one that has failed and is no longer in
    service, and is now rotating.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
    http://www.FreeMars.org/jeff/

    "I find astronomy very interesting, but I wouldn't if I thought we
    were just going to sit here and look." -- "Van Rijn"

    "The other planets? Well, they just happen to be there, but the
    point of rockets is to explore them!" -- Kai Yeves

  11. #41
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    1

    Flashing Saterllite

    Hi?I live in hobart tasmania,At 7:39pm i just looked up in the sky and saw the same thing.A very bright light that was flashing every 15-22 seconds in the night sky,It was moving rather faster than a normal satillite.Its not the first time i have seen this flashing but last time was at 7:27pm on the 22/9/11,Im just courious would this have somthing to do with google earth,if not can some one tell me how to actually find what is out there and get images to the saterllite projectory path.Or is there software to use to find out please.Thankyou

  12. #42
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
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    10,700
    Hi forrest414, welcome to BAUT!

    According to the Heavens Above website, there was indeed a satellite visible from your location, at that time. (You may need to use the "Prev" links on top to browse back to the correct date). It's identified as the Cosmos 1980 rocket, which may well be tumbling in its orbit, thus giving varying amounts of reflected light.

    If you make a bookmark to this link it will put you on the site with your location already selected, otherwise you'll have to select your location using the options the website provides.
    Last edited by slang; 2011-Sep-24 at 10:37 PM. Reason: underline the links
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