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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 3

Mysterious Flashes And Iridium Satellites

From: Nick Balaskas <nikolaos@YorkU.CA>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 21:40:46 -0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Fwd Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 01:43:06 -0400
Subject: Mysterious Flashes And Iridium Satellites

Hi everyone!

Below is part of an article written by a past neighbour and
fellow RASC amateur astronomer, Terence Dickinson. The article
is from the July/August 1998 issue of SkyNews, The Canadian
Magazine of Astronomy and Stargazing of which Terry is the
editor. Many ufologists will already know him as the author of
The Zeta Reticulli Incident article in Astronomy magazine which
caused a big stir a few decades ago when the home base of
certain Earth visiting aliens was identified.


NEW SATELLITES FLASH THE SKIES

A giant constellation of 66 Earth- orbiting satellites, each
the size of two large refrigerators stacked atop one another, is
now in position 780 kilometres above the Earth's surface. The $6
billion Iridium project, operated by commu- nications giant
Motorola, is the largest commercial space venture ever mounted,
yet it remains virtually unknown to anyone outside the aerospace
industry.

After a brief testing period, the satellite network will bring
into service in September the first global cellular- type
wireless phone system. Since at least one of the 66 satellites
will be near overhead at any given time, Iridium subscribers
will be able to call any- where in the world without placing the
call through the local telephone company.

<snip>

In addition, the satellites' highly reflective transponder
antennas - each about the size of a standard household door -
produce brilliant flashes as the satellites pass overhead. The
flashes are relected sunlight and, to the naked eye, look like
bright stars that appear out of nowhere, then quickly fade. They
can become brighter than Venus for a few seconds. Amateur
astronomers have been enjoying watch- ing for these Iridium
flashes, but the novelty may wear off in a few months.
Predictions are available on the Web at:

http://www.gsoc.dlr.de/satvis/

During annual meteor showers there is always the rare chance of
observing a meteor that is heading almost directly at you. This
meteor will also appear as a flash which will usually last for a
fraction of a second (not many seconds as with the Iridium
flashes) and will rarely be as bright as Venus, the third
brightest celestial object in the sky next to the Sun and Moon.
One excited amateur astronomer friend of mine once saw flashing
lights in the sky that changed directions frequently. I pointed
out to him that the flashes of light which he thought were UFOs
in the distance were in fact nearby fireflies.

Go to the Web site above, note the times of the next Iridium
satellite flashes and try to observe them. Some of these
flashes, which will now occur regularly (more common than
firefly sightings too?), may even be reported as UFOs.

Nick Balaskas