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Did I just spot the ISS or something else?

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posted on Aug, 29 2009 @ 02:42 AM
Now ive only seen the ISS (International Space Station) once before two years agos, it was a late spring day and the sun was just about set (just a sliver still above the horizon) and I was lucky to see it start almost right on the horizon.

Well this brings me to what i saw just 10 minutes ago at 6:34pm. The sun has been down a good 40 minutes but the sky still had that deep grey haze in the west. The Light I saw, was I would say half brighter than Venus was this recent spring where I live (ie bright bright), it was traveling in the same direction as my previous ISS sighting ie South West to North East (i first spotted it at about 60-70degrees from the horizon in the South West direction) but this ISS sighting has one unusual difference.

This light was motoring along...

When i mean motoring it traversed the upper 3rd of the sky in around 25-30 seconds, compared to my other ISS sighting this was a good 2 times as fast from what I recall, now from what I read of the ISS it generally takes 4-5 minutes to traverse the entire sky, yet this thing would have completed it in around 2 minutes had I been able to see it fully (it ended up in light clouds around 45 degrees off the horizon, North East) if not for it moving into clouds which even then it partially shone through them in places where they werent so thick. Now i know things slow down as they get closer to the horizon but this thing made me pause.

Also of note is it flashed singly after passing the apex of the sky, which made me grin but knowing about iridium flares I have to take it carefull. This is something the ISS supposedly does so i have to discount that part

The thing is, did I see the ISS or something else? given that it was brighter, faster and remained visible longer despite the sun being alot longer set than the last time than my previous sighting of the ISS which was in better (stronger, sun was higher and only freshly set about to fully set) light conditions.

I personally think it was the ISS, its just the speed that has me so puzzled.

The good thing is if it WAS the ISS, then the bright speedy (well faster than a satellite by at least 2x's) Light I saw 3 weeks ago wasnt the ISS since it was going in a completely perpendicular direction to this and even through binoculars it was nothing but a bright light.

Edit:- Looking at this it very well most likely was the ISS as most of the evidence points to it, although this puzzles me.

This is the data I get back from using my location HeavensAbove in the HeavensAbove site.

Which states it should have been a fairly low arc across the horizon in the direction of the setting sun tonight (29th August) basically leap frogging the point where the sun sets where I live, but this light was near vertical above where I sighted it... could be an error in their sites calculations. But still... kinda odd. Also indicates it was supposed to be a 5 minute pass, which this sure wasn't.

Either way it was a neat thing to witness. Hope people dont get at me to much for posting this here, better to ask than be wrong and parrot I saw a UFO tonight and look stupid

Edit:- Hmm looking back at their ISS current location/orbit map from around the time I saw the sighting it should have been just like their pass info stated since it passed over the tip of our country, not over my location, also the time is an hour out (my sighting being an hour early, although this could be due to daylight savings not being taken into account, although the ISS orbit tracking shouldnt be bothered by that anywho)

So i dont know... ill keep my hopes up
, think Ill do some star watching this week.

[edit on 29-8-2009 by BigfootNZ]

posted on Aug, 29 2009 @ 04:53 AM
sounds like an iss spotting from the west to east flightpath, as thats its notmal kind of movement , and its always big and fast !

incidently, your post just made me realise what i saw a few months back was an iridium flare! i never thought before yet its so obvious!, thanks!

posted on Aug, 29 2009 @ 06:59 AM
I notice your location setting in Heavens Above is 'new Zealand'. That's a big country so observers at widely different locations will see the ISS at different altitudes. The best way is to insert you exact coordinates into the Location interface. This will ensure the results are accurate for your position. The hour difference is undoubtedly due to an error in entering your local time in respect to Universal Time.

As to seeing the ISS from horizon to horizon, this is possible if the sun is just about setting. This allows the satellite to be illuminated in any position from your location. AS the time passes, parts of the eastern sky come into shadow, where the ISS fades from view. The later in the evening you see it, the shorter is the illuminated period. And yes, it moves very quickly. It's doing 17,500 mph after all.


posted on Aug, 29 2009 @ 07:06 AM
The ISS is now the second brightest thing in the night sky, since it had a little upgrade. This might give you a clue on what you saw. If it was very bright, then it may wel have been the ISS. I have a question on the ISS, it moves yeah? So, what is the really bright one that doesn't move? It's usually low and to the south. It's very bright, but it doesn't move accross the sky it's stationary like I very bright star. It probbaly is just a bright star, but does anyone know what I'm banging on about?

posted on Aug, 29 2009 @ 07:35 AM
It was most likely an Iridium flare - reflections off of a series of satellites solar panals, you can check when they happen by visiting the heavens above site. You can look at the last 48 hours and see if it matches your location - would be interesting to find out!

Very cool to see them, very rare to see them without looking for them, but they are very common.

posted on Aug, 29 2009 @ 09:11 AM
THursday night at around 11 Pm I saw two of them right after eachother, they just appeard out of the black sky and both were traveling south.

The funny thing is that the first one disapeared long before number 2 slowly faded out, and I have no clue what this was...

These two objects were real darn close to each other and pretty fast..

posted on Aug, 30 2009 @ 01:11 AM

Glad I could help
, ive seen the ISS before but this was at least twice as fast as the previous ISS sighting I had (same directly over head flight path to boot), I first said to myself, hey the ISS, then errr that's too fast. Yep Iridium Flares are damn neat.


Yep, I already did what you mentioned last night, I used my exact (give or take 500 meters
) geographical location, the angels it gave me where 10/30/10 in a WSW/NW/N direction, the problem is my sighting was 1 hour earlier than the time they gave along with the fact it was a 10/90/10 in a SW/errr vertical/ NW flight path. I used the GMT +12 for New Zealand but we are outside Daylight saves currently so it should have been correct.

The Sun had set a good 20-30 minutes, but the sky in the west was a fuzzy grey, ie there was light just not a whole lot of it. Not sure of the ISS orbital distance but given how long the sun had set and the fact that even when it was a full 140 degrees across the sky (ie 40-50 degrees elevation from vanishing over the horizon) it was still extremely bright (venus bright) and it should have been in Earth shadow by then Which is what also made me query it, since my first confirmed ISS sighting the sun was higher (just recently set, with nice grey gold glow on the horizon) and in that sighting it faded out at about an angle of 70 degrees... hence why I cant quite dismiss this as an ISS sighting, although it sure fits the bill in most categories.


Yeah this was the brightest object ive seen so far not sure how much work they have done on the ISS since i saw it two years ago but it was ALOT brighter this time around.

As to the light your talking about, we had last spring a real bright star in the sky for a long time, im sure it was venus, although ive never seen it before and other times ive seen venus it sets bellow the horizon alot faster than this one did, which would often be visible well into the night and some nights it never set, might be the same star/planet your talking about since given its winter here and the star isnt visible the shift of the earth probably moved it into your hemisphere?. must admit though that star last spring was the first time id seen it, we might be in a quirky solar orbit that keeps Venus up longer than normal at the moment. no idea otheriwse.


yes the flash this object gave off could easily be an iridium flare since ive seen alot of them before, the thing is it was a very breif but bright one basically a single second, most Iridium flares ive seen have built up over a few seconds and faded out. not sure how fast the ISS tumbles compared to other satellites but i guess it could have been a small panel that could have done it.

First Iridium flare i ever saw was basically a max magnitude one directly above me... nothing more pant poopering than watching a satellite then suddenly having it flare up for 3 seconds into a huge light as if someone 50 feet away was shining a torch in your eyes
made my night since it was totally unexpected. All my iridium Flare sightings (ive had about 10) have all been by chance, heck i saw a blue/green bollide(sp?) burn up that left a long greenish streek behind it as it (slowly for a meteor) streaked across the sky a few years ago... even saw a shooting star break up into sparks at Christmas, thing is I had only just stepped out the door and looked up and immediately it happened in the center of my vision.

Guess im just lucky


not sure what that would be (maybe two satellites and different altitudes?, where they following the same flight path?) although it sounds similar to something I saw middle of 07.

Mine didnt fade out at different times but i had 4 satellite strength lights moving in a line south to north, if you took 3 lights stuck one behind the other about 1 cm apart (at arms length) with another third light 2 cm's (at arms length) behind the others in a perfect line... and then add another fourth light in line with the second light but 2 cm (at arms length) to the left of it and all 4 lights where moving together and the same speed, and they didnt converge or cross paths but kept exactly in line with each other.

Lasted about 15 seconds from spotting them to before they hit cloud on the horizon to the north.

Now they could have been satellites, but ive never ever in my entire life of spotting satellites seen 4 together in the same perfect direction, that close together in formation (in fact ive never seen them in formation) . Ive tried looking up info on satellite formation but seems they are only singles as far as i know/find.

So that sightings a definite question mark.

Amazing what you can spot just looking up
... although i envy you guys in America with your meteor showers.. nothing like that happens here in New Zealand, although we can see the Large Magellan Cloud with the naked eye down here (nothing like being able to see a huge fuzzy galaxy out your window at night without a telescope

Overall ill go with the ISS explanation since its the one that fits the most criteria, all the same, was a neat thing to see.
Pitty its cloudy here, since I could see a mag 3 ISS at roughly the same angle as it should have been last night... unfortunately i cant corroborate it now (damn weather)
will just have to wait till next time i guess.

Edit:- opps forgot to say thanks for the input people

[edit on 30-8-2009 by BigfootNZ]

[edit on 30-8-2009 by BigfootNZ]

posted on Aug, 30 2009 @ 02:32 AM
I was going to post this same thought! I didnt cauase i like to belive i saw the ISS! this was on august 24, at about 4 40? am. WE have humid days here in new england. That one night, it was crystal clear, and cooled down like autumn teperatures. The sky lit up with as many starts, as the time can count, it was that clear. The eastern horiozon was jsut turning lighter color, barely. I loked up, looking at PEgasus overhead, and from south to north, this ghost star moved, over the course of about 7 to 10 seconds. It left an eerie ghost light trail behind it..sometimes it dispapered, then reappeared, as it faded into Cassiopeia, in the north. I was like WTF did i jsut see! I searched on NASA ISS schedule online, and found it would have passed over me, right around the time i saw it by accident! so! i do belive i saw the ISS!

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