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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


What the heck was that?

Walking back from the rubbish bin, I was taken aback by the sight of two bright stars close together. For a moment I was confused, I didn't remember any bright pairs in the north-east. I then realised that the one on the left was Betelgeuse and the one on the right was ... completely unknown.

As I watched it slowly faded, going from about magnitude zero to magnitude 4 in around a minute (or a bit more). I couldn't see it moving though (or if it was it was moving vvveeerrryyy slowly.

It might have been a satellite, but its lack of movement suggests it wasn't, and neither Heavens Above nor the Skymap satellite database show anything in that region (just above mu Orionis) at around 20:50 ACDST. It might be some weird glint off a geostationary satellite, but I don't have access to geostationary satellite TLE files. I could also be a "point Meteor" where a meteor is coming into the atmosphere almost driectly along yor line of sight, although the slowlness of the fading seems to make this unlikley.

So a small mystery. Anyone able to shed any light?

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