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originally posted by: diggindirt
a reply to: Aqualung2012
Yes, we saw those flashes as well when we were out enjoying the show.
Perhaps someone smarter than us in the these matters will come along and explain.
I suppose they could have been satellites but not like any I've seen before---and I've spent a lot of time watching the night skies.
Phenomena #2: Repeating point flash.
This phenomena will be detailed in a series of notes taken by others and myself that have seen it.
I wrote the following just after the event on 08-12-85.
Fisk Knob. 08-12-85; 00:00 EDT. Observing Perseid meteors. Strange phenomenon observed near Draco/Ursa Major border: Resembles head-on point meteor, but repeats; each flash lasting about one second. Bob Cash announced the first two sightings and pointed out the area. I counted three of my own afterward, bringing the total to five. Flashes had no apparent pattern but the last two appeared to twinkle noticeably and I detected movement as well. Cash reported a similar observation during the 1983 Perseid shower.
The following was written 3 years later, a few hours after witnessing a second such event.
On the morning of August 12, 1988, between 01:00 and 02:00 hours, an unusual light was observed near the constellation Cepheus by Dawn Ludwig, Peter Chan and James Ashley from Fisk Knob in Kent County.
Conditions - Though we were not rained on, lightning from nearby storms effectively prevented us from observing well a meteor shower that had promised to be the best in several years. The new moon fell on the 12th, and the short-lived peak was to occur in the morning hours with the radiant high in the southeast, at which time we had anticipated a zenithal hourly rate near 70 or higher. Most of the meteors that were seen fell before midnight. The high water vapor content of the atmosphere together with the incessant lightning that occurred from after midnight until dawn limited exposure times for photographs and created very poor viewing in general. All totaled, we saw roughly 150 meteors between us that night, only one of which was captured on film.
Event - I happened to be gazing in the direction of Cepheus when I saw a brief but bright light suddenly appear and disappear in the same general direction (I was almost looking directly at it when it occurred). By coincidence, Ludwig was looking near the same part of the sky and also witnessed the event. The object seemed to pulse as it first brightened rapidly to maximum brilliance, then faded slightly but with equal rapidly, brightening rapidly once again to maximum or near maximum brilliance, and finally fading out completely with the same rapidity. The overall effect was thus one of watching an incandescent lamp turned on, then off, then on, then off, the sequence commencing very smoothly but all within about a second of time. Thus one might have described the event as a flash phenomenon. At the time, I noted the object's brightness at greatest brilliance to be greater than second magnitude, but as it was markedly brighter than Polaris, a more accurate estimation may have placed it nearer to zero magnitude. During the brief interval of visibility, the object seemed to advance slightly to the south.
During the next sixty seconds or so, the event was seen to occur an additional four times, bringing the total number of flashes to five. Ludwig and myself both witnessed each of these five, and Chan saw one of them. The time lapsing between each of the first four flashes seemed to me fairly regular - about 8 to 10 seconds. Between the fourth and the fifth flash, however, a greater interval of time elapsed - 15 to 20 seconds or longer. By carefully noting the position of the object relative to the nearby stars during each successive flash, I was able to calculate a steady southward progression at a rate of approximately five degrees per minute. Between each of the first four flashes I observed a nearly equal angular displacement of the object. This, along with the regular time intervals between these flashes suggests a constant velocity for the object. Consistently, a greater angular displacement than with the previous four flashes was observed between the fourth and fifth flash to coincide with the greater time interval between them.
This phenomenon or another like it had apparently been observed by Terry Hunefeld, Bruce Sidell and others that same night. Their entry in the Veen Observatory logbook reads as follows:
"August 11-12 Sidell and Hunefeld observe a gamma ray mystery flasher above (5 degrees south) of the arc of the Little Dipper. 5 flashes approx. zero magnitude, little movement over 3 minutes. Sidell saw the first 2, both saw the 3rd, Hunefeld the last 2."
Another incident occurred during open house week this past August at the J.C. Veen Observatory, and was witnessed by John Chapman, Dawn Ludwig, several others and myself. It was essentially identical in every respect except location to the flashes just described, and repeated some 7 or 8 times.
© James Ashley One of my exposures from August 12, 1988 reveals what appears to be a flash of some kind. The accompanying photo shows a bright spot near the trail of the bright star Vega in the 15-minute time exposure of Lyra and surrounding regions. Close scrutiny of the negative makes the possibility of a processing artifact unlikely.
Explanations for the flashes range from point meteors to fireflies to satellites. A point or head-on meteor might explain a single flash, but not one that repeats several times over a period of minutes. Fireflies have a distinctive yellow-green color to their photochemical emissions, and their movement, which I have photographed before in time exposure, is altogether inconsistent with that of the flashes observed. A man-made satellite is a more appeal-mg possibility. A very high altitude satellite, one with several reflective surfaces and which is rotating, and with a highly elliptical orbit, is a conceivable explanation. Such a satellite might be high enough in its orbit to be above the Earth's shadow at 2 o'clock in the morning. Depending on its size, it might then become visible only when the most reflective surfaces are turned to the proper Sun-satellite-Earth angle. My only question would be why the object does not stay visible longer than a few brief moments.
Once again, one must be willing to admit the possibility of new, rarely seen, and seldom studied natural phenomena to account for both these apparitions. Such phenomena would be difficult to study indeed, and the data would likely be in the form of typewritten reports by interested individuals such as those above. If anyone have heard of or seen anything similar to what has been described, or feel they have an alternate theory to explain what they are, I would be interested to hear your observations.
originally posted by: violet
I'll go look now. I'm bored, can't sleep.
originally posted by: calstorm
Interesting that it has been happening around the perseids for quite a while back.
originally posted by: krossis
I don't normaly post, but just chiming to say that I have seen this phenomena you describe. I have seen it twice over the last few months. Looks just like a normal star static in the night sky, then a flash of light and the star disappears, or more accurately it fades out.
This in the north of Scotland looking mostly to the south west. It hasn't coinsided with any meteor showers, as far as I'm aware. Probably something mundane no doubt.