posted on May, 17 2009 @ 11:47 AM
Some satellites rotate in one axis but can continue to point in the same direction since they do not rotate in the other axis. Picture a bullet
spinning, but always pointing in the same direction.
Generally junk is spinning in multiple axes, so flashes can be very random and unpredictable. Usually, prolonged flashes are associated with
satellites/junk, but there is also the chance of the cause being a "point meteor".
Seeing a meteor move (as described above) is probably unlikely to be related to a near by flash, and just a coincidence. When point meteors are
observed, they appear to be stationary or nearly stationary "stars" that appear, brighten, and then fade. When meteors cause flashes, it's usually
lower in the atmosphere, so you'd probably see the meteor before the flash.
I've never heard of a case where a flash preceded meteor, although there are many instances where the first thing that catches your eye is a flash
when you were not looking at the part of sky where the meteor was seen, but in cases where you are looking at an area of the sky, and get to see the
whole event, the meteor can always be seen prior to a flash. Flashes are caused when the meteor fragments or explodes, and this happens when the
forces acting on the meteor become excessive ie. when it hits relatively thick atmosphere.
There are certain groups of satellites that travel together in formation (usually military/classified) that would explain the other observation
mentioned above. I have personally seen a tri-satellite formation on one occasion.
As said above, rotation is the most likely cause for a satellite/junk appearing to fade in and out.