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Thread: Blinking Satellite?

  1. #31
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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
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    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
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    Feb 2010
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    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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    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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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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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    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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    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
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    Sep 2011
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    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
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    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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  13. #43
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    I just spotted something blinking every 10 seconds. It was varyingly bright, sometimes as bright as a plane. It was a very quick blink, fraction of a second. It appeared stationary. Stars moved past it. Will try to spot it again tomorrow might.

  14. #44
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    We need to know the time (UT) your location and what stars it was near. Likely a Geo Stationary satellite. Some older ones are spin stabilized and will flash. Others have run low on fuel and moved 100 miles higher. They will seem stationary but aren't moving mostly north and south in a figure 8 pattern. Dead ones can tumble or flash from rotation. Either way sun angle is important so often they are seen only for a short time twice a year when the sun angle is just right. If tumbling then that will be chaotic making any prediction impossible. When imaging near the belt I see dozens of these flashers. Most however are far below naked eye level as the sun angle is not perfect for seeing the centered reflection.

    Rick

  15. #45
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    I have seen something similar to this. I first observed it on Oct 22nd 2014 and again tonight the 26th. I didn't try to observe any other night. I live in western NC. It was around 10:30 pm est both nights. It actually does move very slowly. I saw another sattelite pass within the same field of vision in my scope, moving much faster. The flash certainly appears to be a reflection of the sun, rather than any sort of self produced light. I could faintly see the object when it wasn't flashing, it varied in brightness almost not visible other than the flash.

    Quote Originally Posted by spumn View Post
    Tonight I observed a blinking point source through my 10x50 binoculars. The flashes only lasted for a short fraction of a second, and recurred every 10 to 20 seconds or so, although I did not attempt to measure this period, and I got the impression that it was somewhat irregular anyway, as was the peak brightness (although I am confident it sometimes exceeded magnitude 7). The source was located in Cassiopeia near the magnitude 7 star 4023-1179 (Tycho-2 catalogue) at about 2:00 a.m. (UTC-5, CDT) from my location in the Chicago suburbs. This yields RA 0:30:50 Dec +64:48:07. At first I thought it was totally stationary relative to the stars, but after a while I discerned its motion. My very, very rough estimate of its angular velocity is about a quarter of a degree per minute, roughly straight down toward the horizon (inclined no more than perhaps 10 degrees from the vertical).

    The irregular blinking suggests that whatever I observed is a derelict old satellite or rocket tumbling on multiple axes. Considering I saw it to the North (and I live in the Northern hemisphere), the declination is completely wrong for geosynchronous orbit. Instead, the observed motion relative to the celestial sphere suggests a more or less polar orbit.

    Any thoughts?

  16. #46
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    Go to http://heavens-above.com/ , select your EXACT location (using "Change your observing location"), go to "Daily predictions for brighter satellites", and select the time/day you made your observation. It will give you a table of satellites that were visible that day. In the table there's a column with the time when the sat reachest its highest point over the horizon: click that link to get a sky map.

    Or pick any of the other satellite tracking websites that have mentions in this thread...
    ____________
    "Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa
    "Your right to hold an opinion is not being contested. Your expectation that it be taken seriously is." -- Jason Thompson
    "This is really very simple, but unfortunately it's very complicated." -- publius

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  17. #47
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    Go to http://heavens-above.com/ , select your EXACT location (using "Change your observing location"), go to "Daily predictions for brighter satellites", and select the time/day you made your observation. It will give you a table of satellites that were visible that day. In the table there's a column with the time when the sat reachest its highest point over the horizon: click that link to get a sky map.

    Or pick any of the other satellite tracking websites that have mentions in this thread...
    ____________
    "Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa
    "Your right to hold an opinion is not being contested. Your expectation that it be taken seriously is." -- Jason Thompson
    "This is really very simple, but unfortunately it's very complicated." -- publius

    Moderator comments in this color | Get moderator attention using the lower left icon:
    Recommended reading: Forum Rules * Forum FAQs * Conspiracy Theory Advice * Alternate Theory Advocates Advice

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