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North Yorkshire - Iridium Flares


Scarborough, UK
2014 Sep 16
Tuesday, Day 259

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Iridium Flares
Pick the Closest:















Astronomy in Yorkshire:


Very Much an "Identified Flying Object"

Occasionally something in the sky will catch your eye, like a slowly moving light that gets very bright and then fades away, all in the space of about five seconds. The chances are that you have spotted one of the sixty or so "Iridium" satellites in orbit.

iridium panelIridiums are fitted with a large, flat and highly polished panel behind behind each of their three aerials. They can occasionally produce glints that nearly rival the Full Moon in brightness.

Because of the very controlled way in which way the satellites orient themselves in space, Iridium 'flares' are highly predictable. Those in the know can wait for them and can be looking in the right direction when they occur.

The table tells you which direction to look and the maximum brightness (Visual Magnitude) to expect. The more negative the figure, the brighter it will be. For comparison, the brightest stars in the Sky are magnitude -1, Venus at its most brilliant is -4 and a Full Moon is -11.

Sometimes the flare will be a little brighter or dimmer than expected because of minor deviations in the satellite's orientation.


All Locations

One thing you can do is see how different the same flare appears from a location a few miles away. It might be dimmer, brighter, and it might happen a few seconds earlier or later as the satellite travels round its orbit. It takes nearly 15 seconds for a flare event to travel across Yorkshire.

Times are local UK so will show Summer Time when it is in force.

Date Location Iridium
Number
Time
BST
Visual
Mag
Azimuth Elevation Reflector
September 15, MonMalton 68 20:55:29
-1
358° (N)
27°
LH aerial
Dalby Forest 68 20:55:31
-1
358° (N)
27°
LH aerial
Whitby 68 20:55:35
-1
358° (N)
27°
LH aerial
September 16, TueYork 75 20:49:09
-1
358° (N)
29°
LH aerial
Sutton Bank 75 20:49:13
-3
359° (N)
29°
LH aerial
September 17, WedYork 63 20:42:44
-1
359° (N)
31°
LH aerial
Sutton Bank 63 20:42:48
-3
359° (N)
31°
LH aerial
September 18, ThuBridlington 80 06:41:43
-1
26° (NNE)
46°
RH aerial
Bridlington 65 20:27:30
-1
1° (N)
34°
LH aerial
September 19, FriBridlington 81 06:35:43
-1
25° (NNE)
45°
RH aerial
Sutton Bank 82 06:44:53
-1
21° (NNE)
47°
RH aerial
Bridlington 68 20:21:20
-1
2° (N)
36°
LH aerial
September 20, SatYork 18 06:38:47
-1
20° (NNE)
46°
RH aerial
Sutton Bank 18 06:38:53
-1
20° (NNE)
45°
RH aerial
Sutton Bank 70 20:24:25
-1
359° (N)
36°
LH aerial
September 21, SunSutton Bank 39 06:32:56
-3
20° (NNE)
44°
RH aerial

The data for these predictions are provided by Simone Corbellini, a mathematician and satellite observer who lives in Italy. His own website covers satellite observing and flares in more depth. You can get there from the left hand menu.

Copyright © Robert Christy, all rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited