Astronomy: So You See a Bright Light?

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posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 07:40 AM
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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.


  1. Date
  2. Time (within a half hour)
  3. Location (approximately and including elevation if possible)
  4. Altitude of object
  5. Azimuth of object
  6. 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
8:40 AM
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.

Other Resources
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 suggestions.

Starry Night - Computer software. Just about the best on the market, and what I use to post astronomy images here on ATS.

Your Sky - Online star charts, set for your location

My Stars Live - Another Online star chart program.

Stars and Planets - A really good beginners field guide.


[edit on 4/21/2005 by cmdrkeenkid]




posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 08:20 AM
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thank you cmdrkeenkid this will be very helpfull, and a better way of reporting what we see in the future, and intern getting a better idea what it is..




posted on Apr, 22 2005 @ 04:08 AM
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CLAP CLAP!

Good idea...why didn't you think of it sooner?

j/k..






posted on Apr, 25 2005 @ 07:58 PM
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Another excellent site is www.heavens-above.com....

Go to Heavens-Above and register for a free account. When you log in you can get exact locations to see satellites, space junk like discarded rocket bodies, the ISS, the Hubble, etc. The site gives the time to see the object, the direction to look, and the angle above the horizon to look.

I like to go to Heavens-Above and then go outside and get pictures of satellites. I'm trying to get a picture of every Iridium communication satellite.

Another great, free astronomy program is Stellarium. It's what I use before I go outside for a night's observing with my telescope. It's free, easy to use, has great graphics, and shows you exactly how the sky looks outside. It shows stars, planets, and other 'stuff'. You can turn on or off the lines drawing constellations, star names, and even artwork showing the constellations.



posted on Apr, 25 2005 @ 08:20 PM
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Yes to the utrained eye it is easy to think a star is moving. I had an argument with a girl the otehr night as we were taking an evening stroll whether this star was a helocopter or a star. It was late at night ad was actually Vega. which she mistook for a choper.



posted on Apr, 25 2005 @ 09:01 PM
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Excellent thread! I know this will help many who aren't familiar with the night time sky. It's very easy to mistake certain stars, or even planets, for UFO's especially if certain enviornmental conditions are present. Good job.



posted on Apr, 25 2005 @ 10:25 PM
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Ahh, fantastic, I can't believe I missed this thread over 4 days!

I have starry night as well, it's amazing. Although, I'll admit I got a little bored of having to wait to 'fly' to each observational point. All around though, a fantastic piece of software, I HIGHLY recommend it.




posted on Apr, 25 2005 @ 11:40 PM
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Originally posted by PeanutButterJellyTime
Another great, free astronomy program is Stellarium


I thank you for providing this link. I found the program extremely useful. It's utility of ease and wealth of information proved extremely fascinating.

Is anyone aware of a similar program with the capability of simulating the night sky in ancient times? I would find this useful for analysing claims made about such monuments as Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids, and others that allegedly contain celestial alignments. I attempted to do so with Stellarium, but upon setting the date previous to 1970, my computer crashed, and this occurred on multiple attempts.

I am giving PeanutButterJellyTime a vote for Way Above Top Secret.



posted on Apr, 25 2005 @ 11:56 PM
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Originally posted by The_Recondite_Philomath
Is anyone aware of a similar program with the capability of simulating the night sky in ancient times?


Try getting ahold of Starry Night.



posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 11:05 PM
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Originally posted by cmdrkeenkid

Originally posted by The_Recondite_Philomath
Is anyone aware of a similar program with the capability of simulating the night sky in ancient times?


Try getting ahold of Starry Night.


I ran Stellarium backwards to 1/1/0000, but the clock wigged out when I tried to go back beyond that date.

Try Celestia. It's a fully 3D-rendered program that lets you tour the universe. You can set the date back to 1800, then let the time run backwards from there. I'm not sure how far back it will go.

Celestia is awesome but it can take a lot of hard drive space. You can download plugins for almost anything. You can go back in time and watch skylab orbit the earth, go to the Messiers, etc. It's really cool if you're in to astronomy. And, like Stellarium, it's free.



posted on Jun, 28 2005 @ 07:46 PM
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lots of stars and activity have been incresing over the last year above east texas where the light pollution dosent affect the sky. from there u can see lots of metior showers and stars. well one night back one year ago the 1st of august there was a major incress of this activity then people started to see objects in the sky just hovering. me and my cusin both seen sompthng several nights in a row when i lived in texas for 8 years and it seems to be incressing more and more every year. one miniute it will be there hovering slowly just in sub space and u can see it moving 10-15 mph throught the trees then a larg flash and gone



posted on Jul, 24 2005 @ 08:07 AM
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thanks for the info Ill have to check it out.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 05:45 PM
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Originally posted by Amorymeltzer
I have starry night as well, it's amazing. Although, I'll admit I got a little bored of having to wait to 'fly' to each observational point. All around though, a fantastic piece of software, I HIGHLY recommend it.


Press the space bar and it'll go instantly there instead of "fly" there.

Starry Night is what I use too. If you buy an Orion telescope (www.telescope.com), you get the software with the telescope for free (although I don't think its the full version).



posted on Oct, 9 2005 @ 02:47 PM
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Originally posted by cmdrkeenkid
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 FIST 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.


Missed a small detail cmdrkeenkid tho most of us know what you mean, that you should used an outstretched fist. Instead of someone's still beating heart that was pulled out of thier chest



posted on Feb, 4 2006 @ 04:20 PM
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Is it okay if we post our problems with our telescopes in this thread? I'm still having trouble with mine Cmdrkeenkid.



posted on Jul, 17 2006 @ 01:20 AM
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Originally posted by PeanutButterJellyTime
Another excellent site is www.heavens-above.com....

Go to Heavens-Above and register for a free account. When you log in you can get exact locations to see satellites, space junk like discarded rocket bodies, the ISS, the Hubble, etc. The site gives the time to see the object, the direction to look, and the angle above the horizon to look.

I like to go to Heavens-Above and then go outside and get pictures of satellites. I'm trying to get a picture of every Iridium communication satellite.

Another great, free astronomy program is Stellarium. It's what I use before I go outside for a night's observing with my telescope. It's free, easy to use, has great graphics, and shows you exactly how the sky looks outside. It shows stars, planets, and other 'stuff'. You can turn on or off the lines drawing constellations, star names, and even artwork showing the constellations.


I really want to thank you for the links to these 2 amazing sites ! I also am getting a telescope real soon. Is a three thousand dollar scope considered top of the line for enthusiasts?



posted on Mar, 18 2007 @ 10:28 PM
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there has been this super bright star/planet in the sky every night for the past couple of weeks and it is just now starting to fade. I think its venus but i'm not sure. I'm going to try out this stellarium thing to see if i can find out what it is.

edit: I used starrynight online and found out it is venus. you're also supposed to be able to see saturn but i cant use my telescope here with all the street lights.

[edit on 18-3-2007 by lizziex3]



posted on Mar, 21 2007 @ 01:32 PM
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Thanks for the app links, just what I need



posted on Mar, 26 2007 @ 11:34 PM
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i used my astronomical software, and it's definatly Venus. Beautiful find! My 9mm meade lens displayed it beautifully about the size of the cap of a thumb tack.

If you live on the east coast USA, I suggest you go out around 9pm and look directly WEST.



posted on Apr, 1 2007 @ 02:30 AM
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SATURN is veiwable all night in east coast. Look WEST around 8pm to 1am. BEAUTIFUL! !





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