Thursday, August 8, 2013

What Satellite Is This?

The image above is of a very bright satellite (not a meteor). This is usually called a satellite flare, and most satellite flares this bright are Iridium Flares. They are named after the Iridium communication satellites that produce this events. Most Iridium flares last for 10 or 15 seconds. What is strange about this flare is that it lasted for about 1 1/2 minutes. I know this because the image you see is from a combination of 3 images, each 30 seconds long (taken from the Milky Way time lapse video). The other odd thing is that I cannot find which satellite did this. I used an App called "Satellite Safari", which seems to be pretty accurate, since I can find much fainter satellites on other images. If anyone can figure out what satellite did this, please let me know. Here are the facts about the image:

Camera is facing South
Date and time: July 6, 2012 between 4:45:05 and 4:46:41
Field of view is about 95 degrees wide by 73 degrees high
Traveling from right to left through the constellation Pisces


  1. Looks like an iridium flare, you might be able to look back in time on to find it. That's the site I use to identify all the mystery objects in my photos.

  2. Hi Eric: I checked Heavens-Above and it shows only one flare in the morning of July 6. A -1.6 flare occurred at 3:52 a.m., 44 degrees high and 278 degrees azimuth. The picture was taken at 4:45 and the flare in the image is about 40 to 50 degrees high, but it is about 170 degrees in azimuth. The flare in the image is also much brighter. This is still a mystery.