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Thread: Iridium flares

  1. #1
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    Dec 2006
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    Lightbulb Iridium flares

    OK, this is way off topic but this is the lounge and this is actually kind of interesting to us light-people.

    What are iridium flares? That I asked myself earlier this week when a colleague mentioned it. They are bright flares in the sky produced by the antennas of iridium (phone) satellites when reflecting sunlight to earth. They last only for a few seconds and I imagine they go unnoticed by most people, and by me until this evening. I knew when and where to look thanks to this website that predicts iridium flares depending on geographic location.
    http://www.heavens-above.com
    It was interesting but not too spectacular. It had a predicted intensity of -3 but can be as bright as -8 (some astronomical brightness definition, sun = -29). You get -8 when you are in the center of the reflected beam - which is really very bright compared to stars. What interested me and my GF (for a change ) is that it is so well predicted, like clockwork, and gives that special feeling about this hi-hech world.

    cheers,
    Z.

  2. #2
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    May 2006
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    Native Floridian
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    I think I've only seen 1 Iridium flare, really you can get them from just about any satellite, I once saw a very bright flash from a Hubble passover. Just have to be at the right place at the right time, with no clouds!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bend Oregon USA
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    3,348

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoof View Post
    OK, this is way off topic but this is the lounge and this is actually kind of interesting to us light-people.

    What are iridium flares? That I asked myself earlier this week when a colleague mentioned it. They are bright flares in the sky produced by the antennas of iridium (phone) satellites when reflecting sunlight to earth. They last only for a few seconds and I imagine they go unnoticed by most people, and by me until this evening. I knew when and where to look thanks to this website that predicts iridium flares depending on geographic location.
    http://www.heavens-above.com
    It was interesting but not too spectacular. It had a predicted intensity of -3 but can be as bright as -8 (some astronomical brightness definition, sun = -29). You get -8 when you are in the center of the reflected beam - which is really very bright compared to stars. What interested me and my GF (for a change ) is that it is so well predicted, like clockwork, and gives that special feeling about this hi-hech world.

    cheers,
    Z.
    I live in central oregon, and we have a dark sky ordnance, and I watch and schedule iridium flairs all the time because they are predictable and when i find the one that is real bright for my lat & long it is an event for me to go see them. they are truly spectacular. I am also a big fan of the ISS flybys. I have even seen ISS followed by the shuttle. Lasers are my passion, space is my hobby. Spring time is the best time to see them for my area.

  4. #4
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    At this time the sky in Holland is very clear and there are going to be some very bright flares this week. I'll be watching the skies Usually the dutch sky has clouds or is foggy which means that a lot of light reflected from city lights and greenhouses so the night-sky is almost never really black. Its just funny that this has been around for quite long, happens quite frequently and most people don't know about it.

    cheers

  5. #5
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    Stockholm, Sweden
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    This is very interesting. I have not yet been able to see one because it has been cloudy for a while. When the sky is clear there are no passovers... that's just typical. I missed some -9 magnitude flares (though they seem to be fairly common here) because of the clouds.

    A romantically inclined person could use this as a neat trick to "light a star" for his girlfriend/date. That should make an impression.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Miami, FL
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    this guys project makes it a little easier, and lets you play with lasers

    http://moro.fbrtech.com/ift/

  7. #7
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    Dec 2006
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    Netherlands
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    thanks for that link, glad to see lasers are involved

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