reply to post by antar
10 seconds almost certainly rules out point meteors. The chances of seeing one lasting that long are along the lines of buying a winning lottery
ticket, although it is possible, and even more so if there was high or very high meteor activity at the time. You would certainly know if that was the
case though, so we can probably rule that out.
Edit to add: After re-reading your description of the event, it does seem to have all the characteristics of an object burning up in the atmosphere,
just like a meteor often gets to a point where it cannot take any more, and there is a massive failure in structural integrity resulting in bright
flash (or "terminal burst" as they are called when they result in the destruction of the main mass of the object).
The above is a textbook example of a very large terminal burst, seen at an angle obviously, and obviously much brighter than the event you observed
(and 99.9999% of all other meteors at a rough guess). but it demonstrates the typical "light curve" (change in brightness over time) of a meteor, or
very bright fireball in this particular case. In other cases the increase in brighness at the end is more pronounced and sudden, like what you saw.
Is there any chance that you over-estimated the time? If it was closer to 5 seconds, then the meteor possibility becomes a bit more probable, but
it's still a long time for a meteor. I'd be more inclined to accept the possibility of a meteor in this case if you had said that the flash occurred
close to, or when you first observed the brightening since meteors can leave luminous trains behind which can easily linger and gradually fade over
the course of a few seconds.
Again, this is all assuming that what you saw was a point, or an near-point meteor.
I don't see any reason why it could not have been very slow moving space junk, especially if it was observed in a part of the sky away from stars.
Without points of reference close by, our brains may perceive a very slow moving object to appear to be stationary.
I think it's worth remembering that under certain circumstances our eyes and brain can play tricks on us. Unfortunately, looking at the night sky,
seems to be one of those circumstances under which the brain is easily tricked. That also goes for estimates of distance/altitude as this page
Of course, there is always the possibility what you saw was a truly stationary flare, although IMHO slim, in which case we might have a truly
There is one other possibility, which is a glint off a geo-stationary satellite, but I think these are also very rare.
[edit on 10-7-2008 by C.H.U.D.]