Iridium Sightings in 2003

31 Mar 2003

A succession of clear nights allowed the capture of several Iridium flares, whereby the sun glints off the mirror-like antennas of Iridium communication satellites. Each antenna is about the size of a household door yet, for a few seconds as the reflected sunlight sweeps past like a lighthouse beam, it outshines every other object in the night sky apart from the Moon.

However, this picture shows something altogether harder to spot, a flare in daylight...

Daytime Iridium flare, 31 Mar 2003

Iridium flare over Hurst Green, Surrey. 31 Mar 2003, 19:47:47BST (18:47:47UT). Minolta Dimage 7, 9mm, 1s @ f/8, ISO100.

A magnitude -8 Iridium flare in a light sky, near to Jupiter (mag. -2). Taken 20mins after sunset, a slow aperture gives a sufficiently long exposure (1s) for the satellite to show a short trail as it travels south.

This is my first successful picture of a daylight flare that actually shows the satellite's movement, so clearly distinguish it from a star or planet.

8 Apr 2003

Iridium 61 on 8 Apr 2003

Iridium 61 flare over Hurst Green, Surrey. 8 Apr 2003, 20:53BST (19:53UT). Minolta Dimage 7, 7mm, 30s @ f2.8, ISO200.

A magnitude -5 flare seen in a more usual night-time setting. The satellite was travelling south (L to R) at 60 degrees elevation in the north west sky, not far from Ursa Major. The brightning and fading as the satellite moves past is clearly apparent in this shot - although the shutter was open for 30 seconds, the visible trail corresponds to about 12 seconds of movement.

17 Apr 2003

Iridium 54 on 17 Apr 2003

Iridium 54 flare over Hurst Green, Surrey. 17 Apr 2003, 21:52 BST (20:52UT). Minolta Dimage 7, 7mm, 30s @ f3.4, ISO200.

A magnitude -6 flare, again in a NE direction, but with some neighbouring constellations shown to give an idea of the actual size of the event. The lights of London impart the brownish tinge to the sky.

Last Year Iridium Gallery

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