|Occurred : 8/19/2006 05:11 (Entered as : 08/19/06 5:11)
Reported: 8/19/2006 4:26:00 AM 04:26
Location: Fargo, ND
|Very bright object flares even brighter.
I arrived home from work early this morning, and as is my habit looked up at the sky after exiting my vehicle. I love to look at the night sky, and this morning the sky was unusually clear and crisp.
The *dark* side of the moon reflecting the "bounce light" of the earth was plainly evident - an astronomical phenomenon that until recent years was fairly rare, even here in the relatively unsullied skies of North Dakota - but now for some reason it is a very common sight. (Something very odd going on in that department!)
Anyway, almost as soon as I looked up and almost directly overhead, I saw what I at first thought was a very bright planet - until, that is, I realized it was moving quite slowly on a roughly north to south trajectory. And very quickly after that realization the object swiftly flared brighter and brighter until I became rather alarmed - I would estimate its lumens quadrupled - and then suddenly its intensity dropped off as though somebody had thrown a switch, but it was actually still faintly visible via peripheral vision. In other words to still see it after it flared out, I had to look slightly to the side of its trajectory.
I'm thinking it was a satellite of some sort reflecting the predawn sun as it rolled in orbit - it seemed to be at satellite height - but at the same time it seemed to move too slowly to fall into that category. The brightness of the object when it flared was astonishing.
This is the second time I've seen this object (or something similar) flaring overhead. About two weeks ago, I witnessed pretty much the same event, only I believe it was a couple hours earlier in the am, and both times the event occured almost as soon as I'd looked up into the sky! Talk about coincidence…
((NUFORC Note: Probable sighting or Iridium 54. Please see data below from www.heavens-above.com:
18 Aug 23:20:45 -1 14° 37° (NE ) 60.5 km (E) -6 Iridium 28
18 Aug 23:31:30 -2 16° 42° (NE ) 44.4 km (E) -7 Iridium 94
19 Aug 05:11:16 -1 62° 243° (WSW) 25.2 km (E) -8 Iridium 54
((ADDENDUM FROM WITNESS))
Update on bright flare...
Update: I did a bit of internet sleuthing after reporting the bright flash in the sky I witnessed the other morning. Apparently what I saw was the Iridium 54 satellite, which was scheduled to be over my location here in Fargo, ND at 05:12:09 on the date I had my sighting - Saturday, 19 August 2006. As I mentioned in my initial report, the flash of light I saw was almost alarmingly bright, and the chart I found on the website pegged Iridium 54 at a brightness magnitude of -7 on the logarithmic scale that measures light intensity. I'm assuming that the bright flare I saw a week or two back was the same object.