Iridium Flare Pass | 2017 Dec 1

The Iridium 21 satellite passed over my part of Iowa this morning before sunrise. I set the iPad Air 2 on a firm base pointed at an angle toward the NNW sky. At 6:02 am, I started the 102 sec exposure using the NightCap Camera app, same as for the ISS pass three days earlier. The satellite was going north as it entered the frame at the top. After about 30 sec, a highly reflective mirror-like antenna cast a beam of sunlight down toward me. It brightened to several times more than the planets Venus or Jupiter ever get. Then it dimmed and continued north.

Taken with NightCap Camera | ISS mode | 102 sec | click to embiggen

Another satellite passed at the same time going toward the upper left from north-to-south. It is very faintly visible to the left of the flare. According to the Heavens Above database for my area, it was either a Russian satellite, or an Ariane rocket body.

10 thoughts on “Iridium Flare Pass | 2017 Dec 1

  1. Nice capture. 2018 will be the last year to see these. In December SpaceX will be launching 10 more Iridium Next sv’s bringing us the the 1/2 way point. The new birds have a different L-Band configuration that does not produce the flare affect. Hopefully none of the old ones hit your house. 😳

    • The app software somehow allows any length of time one needs. It took 102 sec for the pass of the satellite before during and after the bright flare. I just stopped when I felt it was over.

  2. […] Perhaps you’ve heard of the Iridium satellites. They make up a world-wide satellite phone network. Their satellites are in polar orbits at LEO. Their antennae are highly reflective and can produce bright reflections called Iridium flares. […]

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