|Occurred : 11/14/2011 18:05 (Entered as : 11/14/11 18:05)
Reported: 11/15/2011 5:17:14 PM 17:17
Location: Lafayette, IA
Duration:15 seconds approx.
|Stationary High-Magnitude Light Dimming Out
Returning home from a long bike ride shortly after the fall of night I was walking my bike in an open area along a bike path in the countryside --about 7 miles north of Cedar Rapids -- with open farm fields to my right & left when I noticed a striking pairing of objects. Both objects were stationary and appeared to be stars at first, although I wondered if one might be a planet. They were perhaps 2 to 5 degrees apart (uncertain exactly but not right next to each other). In retrospect 24 hours later I would hazard two finger widths apart.
Jupiter was visible about 50 degrees to the left of the pair and at roughly the same height above the horizon. My thought was it might be something that would be mentionable in a current astronomical magazine due to the strikingness of the combination. Only minutes to moments before, I was checking out 3 high-flying aircraft in the northern sky.
I had been out at night on my bike frequently all throughout this year and it must have seemed unfamiliar enough to me to zero-in on it so quickly when I first looked in another direction. The upper object was the brightest shining with almost approximately the same magnitude as Jupiter (although it seemed a bit smaller than Jupiter). The lower object was not especially exceptional other than possibly being a brighter star for a lower altitude. Both objects appeared whitish. Jupiter appeared to be about 25 to 30 degrees above the horizon incidentally.
Muddling the matter were high and elongated thin cirrus clouds nearing the pair.
Anyway as I was looking at the two the brighter one dimmed into nothingness quite abruptly (but it did breathtakingly dim as it wasn’t quite instantaneous). This occurred before any obscuring by clouds [emphasis: certainty].
The puzzling aspect however was that it appeared absolutely stationary and not moving like a satellite would be moving out of solar glare. Once years ago I viewed the ISS at Kennedy Space Center and that seemed to travel at a fair pace across the sky, though I wonder now how it would appear at the very end of visibility.
I noted the time via my cell phone at 18:05 hours. I then resumed riding and as best as possible given conditions continued to observe that area of the sky for almost 30 minutes but high and thin clouds had more or less covered that region of the sky preventing visibility in that region.
I was unable to get a clear fix on the second object which might have dimmed out soon after the first one or it may have been a star slowly masked by the cloud cover.