There's been quite some activity lately on ATS about "identifiable bright lights" in the sky, so hopefully with some information on how to identify
objects, they can be put to rest. Also, staring at a bright star as the sky is darkening and dimmer stars are coming into view give the impression
that the object is moving rapidly!
It's just an optical illusion, so try not to just blindly stare at whatever it is.
When you go out and see a bright light, here's some info that you can take down to help identify it.
- Time (within a half hour)
- Location (approximately and including elevation if possible)
- Altitude of object
- Azimuth of object
- As detailed of description as possible. Things to include how long you watched it, what color it was, what constellation it was in, and anything
else you may think to be important.
So an observation would look something like this...
Apr. 21, 2005
Ypsilanti MI, 715 ft above sea level
Alt: 25 degrees
Azi: 100 degrees
It was bright and yellow and warm... It hurt my eyes to look at and now I'm seeing spots everywhere.
Don't understand Altitude/Azimuth?
Altitude is the height of the object above the horizon in degrees. An easy way to approximate this is to use your outstretched at arm's length as
about 10 degrees in the sky. You need your fngers to be parallel to the horizon for this. Measure the amount of fist heights above the horizon is, and
you'll get what it's altitude is about.
Azimuth is the direction of the object from the north point. It works just like a compass.
North = 0 degrees
East = 90 degrees
South = 180 degrees
West = 270 degrees
Try and measure it from one of those key points, again using your fists. This time though your fingers need to be perpendicular to the horizon. So if
you know the object is in the SSE, for example, you could start at the east point of 90 and measure over from there.
Some other things you can do to identify an object would be to purchase some computer software, some star charts, or some books. Here are some
- Computer software. Just about the best on the market, and what I use to post astronomy images
here on ATS.
- Online star charts, set for your location
My Stars Live
- Another Online star chart program.
- A really good beginners field guide.
[edit on 4/21/2005 by cmdrkeenkid]