Originally posted by mobtek
when I saw this there was no flickering, flashing or fading out and fading in again, which I've seen plenty of satellites do. At all times the dot of
light was steady and consistent.
Satellites can do both. In general, satellites remain relatively constant in brightness. But most satellites can also "flare" from time to time -
how often depends on the design of the satellite and how its being operated (orbit/rotation?).
On top of that, there is also junk (usually fainter than a normal satellite), and defunct satellites. In some cases they randomly tumbling. Some
tumble fast, and some slow, creating flashes which can be short or prolonged.
In short, satellites can vary in their behavior.
I think what a lot of people forget (or don't realize) as you mentioned, is just how many satellites (including junk) there are in orbit, and the
vast majority of it is usually very faint, so even under a very dark sky, you might not notice it, until it flares or glints.
For example. If you can clearly make out the milky way in your sky, you should be able to visibly track most satellites (providing they are not in
earth's shadow of course), down to about +5 or +6 magnitude. Small pieces of junk however could be as faint as +7 (or more), which is at the
threshold of visibility, and then only visible under clear and absolutely light-pollution free skies, but when they glint or flare, they can increase
in brightness by a few hundred times in some cases.
Originally posted by mobtek
It'd be an interesting exercise to calculate based on your location and angle of viewing (in my case almost straight up) and time what the chances of
the above description actually occurring since it does seem quite plausible.
I'd also be interested to know exactly the chances.
What I can say, from my own experience of photographing the night sky, is that when it's possible to view satellites (during summer at mid northern
latitudes this is throughout the night, but at this time of the year, due to earth's tilt/the sun dropping very low below the horizon, only for the
first hour or so after sunset, and the first hour before sunrise), it's rare for me to take a photograph and not have at least one or two satellites
would be at least one or two times on a clear night from any given location.
But, I think we have to keep in mind that, although the chances of you personally seeing what you saw if you only look at the sky for perhaps an hour
or two in total per year, are probably not that bad, with millions of other people around the world, there are always going to be people seeing the
The point is, you just need to be looking up at the right time, which is down to luck.
I'd like to make a couple of further points as well if I may...
We know from the posts on here that many people see these "phenomena". I do myself from time to time, and so do many others, including other
astronomers and astro-photographers like myself. So we know it's not "that" unusual.
Well if that is the case, why is there no footage, or even a "still" long exposure photograph that shows anything unusual like this? We all look
at/photograph basically the same sky, so there should be.
This, IMO, is easily accounted for by the fact that astronomers have long been aware of the causes (as I pointed out in an earlier post).
I also said this is testable, and I'd be more than willing to help anyone out who wants to try.
If people here really want to get to the bottom of this particular phenomena, the proper way to do it is to eliminate possible causes, one by one. The
easiest way to do that (that I can see), is with a camera.
I haven't seen anyone else come up with a viable explanation for objects that resemble satellites appearing to make sharp turns, and a camera could
settle the case... or perhaps catch something that raises more questions, who knows! but at least we would have some physical evidence, together with
an eye witness report... it's got to be better that a bunch of people sitting around, patting themselves on the back, and saying "wow, all of us
have seen something we can't explain".
Thanks anyway for agreeing that my explanation is plausible, and for taking the time to look at it. Sorry if what I type comes off a bit
"rant-like". That's not my intention. I just think that at least some people here are overlooking/dismissing a possibility because what they saw
before does not exactly match what they saw on one particular occasion, and how they expect satellites to be able to behave.
By the way, there is another related expectation for a satellite appearing to make a sharp turn which I
posted in another thread some time ago
, which might explain some peoples