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Not UFO: but what?
Hi John.
A couple of weeks ago, about 8 in the evening on Tuesday 13th Novemebr I was walking to see some friends in the relatively dark skies of Achiltibuie (NC 03833 06871). The moon was wxing and near south, about 30 degrees elevation. My attention was attracted by a spot flash about 20 degrees elevation in the west. I first of all thought it was my eyes playing tricks, but a few seconds later the flash appeared again. I watched for about ten minutes, by which time I had reached my destination. Despite a crowd of us looking for it, it didnt appear again.
The intensity was about that of the ISS, or slightly brighter at first. The direction of travel was from west to east, increasing in apparent elevation as it travelled further east.
The speed was slower than a satellite, much slower than a plane or helicopter.
The flash was always white- no colours.
The flash occurred every 10-15 seconds.
As it neared the moon the flashes appeared less intense, though whether this was because of its closing proximity to the moon, or because the flashes were actually less intense I dont know.
It occurred to me that it was a giant mirror of sorts, tumbling through space.
Any ideas?
Sorry this is out of your normal patch, but I couldnt think of anyone else nearby.
Thanks,
Steve
Posted by Steve Husband on 28 November 2018
Frankly, I have no idea what it was you actually saw: there is so much junk being flung up there and out there these days it could be just about anything. Mr Musk launching a caravan to attach to his sports car, perhaps?

Sorry I can't be of more help on this one.
Posted by JCV on 29 November 2018
Thanks for that. I assumed it is junk, but it makes you wonder how much rubbish there is up there. And who exactly is Mr Musk? He would be hard to distinguish from all the other many caravanners we have here (aside from the fact that he would arrive sans car and caravan: they are both in space)
On a serious note, how can a layman tell the difference between a geo-stationary satellite, and a star, ro planet? Is there a simple way, or does it come down to knowledge and/or equipment.
Thanks again
Steve
Posted by Steve Husband on 29 November 2018
On 2018, 6th Feb. 20-18 (or thereabouts) Elon Musk launched the "Falcon Heavy", the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V took Apollo astronauts to the Moon. The Heavy’s payload was Musk’s personal Tesla roadster, a $100,000 luxury car made by one of Musk’s other companies. Six hours after launch, the car and its passenger—an empty SpaceX suit dubbed “Starman”— were on an escape trajectory that Musk hoped would put the car in an elliptical orbit around the Sun and allow for some closes brushes with Mars.

In response to this I published the following in The Orcadian:

The Ultimate Conundrum?

May I offer your readers a little light entertainment from the world stage?

Online BBC News, 10th February 2018. "Elon Musk: The man who sent his sports car into space."

There followed a description for how Musk's electric sports car was sent on its way, concluding: ". . . Elon Musk, the South African-born billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Paypal, electric car company Tesla, and SpaceX, the manufacturer of the Falcon Heavy. The partly-reusable Heavy is the most powerful rocket on earth, and, if Mr Musk is to be believed, a stepping stone to a rocket to Mars.

"The sports car was one of Mr Musk's own Tesla Roadsters. Its stereo was programmed to play David Bowie's Space Oddity on repeat as it travels for millions of years through space. Or until the battery dies, anyway." (Musk appears to have overlooked the fact that space is a virtual vacuum and so the "stereo" would remain silent throughout its journey!)

Musk said: "It's kind of silly and fun, but silly and fun things are important." (Presumably Mr Musk is unaware of the countless, starving individuals across the world.)

There are certain rules and restrictions in some societies over the control of litter, which, if contravened, could lead to a fine. Yet a guy with the necessary may chuck his sports car out into space and get away with it. Conclusion: if you are a billionaire, you are free to do more or less as you please.

All this would appear to support my maxim that "you'd need to be mad to want to be sane in a mad world." (The ultimate conundrum?)

End of quote.

Possible distinguishing features for a geo-stationary satellite?

Assuming, initially, the object to appear as bright as, or brighter than, the Pole Star, and to have an altitude above the horizon of at least 15 arc-digress, the colour of reflected sunlight to ground level will depend upon the satellite’s position in relation to the Earth’s umbral shadow. Being geo-stationary the object would partake of the apparent diurnal motion thus appearing to move in company with the surrounding stellar background.

The satellite’s elevation in km above the Earth’s surface will determine the rate at which the object’s brightness fades, again due to entering the Earth’s shadow. Many of these changes will be gradual, the rate dependent upon a number of variables impossible to predict with certainty.

And so the safest way to confirm that this is a “freak” object would require one to have some knowledge of the star formations (constellations), at least to apparent stellar magnitude 3.0. (Polaris has a magnitude of 2.0.)

Those of us who have observed the night skies over decades, going back to before our ability to place objects into Earth orbit, find this intrusion from artificial objects irksome.

James Maynard
(for John C Vetterlein)
Posted by John C Vetterlein on 01 December 2018
Moonbow
Delighted to spot a moonbow tonight. Saturday 4th April at approx 11.00 pm Quite rare I've been told?
Posted by Gill charlesworth on 04 April 2015
Solar eclipse 2015 Mar 20
We have received an inquiry regarding the total solar eclipse predicted for 2015 Mar 20.

The eclipse will be observed as partial from Orkney.

Full details will be posted on site nearer the time.

Here are the essentials.

2015 Mar 20

The eclipse is partial from Orkney.

Beginning of partial phase
Time: 2015 Mar 20 08:35:32
Sun's altitude: 16.5°

Mid-eclipse
Time: 2015 Mar 20 09:39:57

Sun's altitude: 23.0°

End of partial phase
Time: 2015 Mar 20 10:47:21
Sun's altitude: 28.0°


John Vetterlein
Posted by John Vetterlein on 10 April 2014
shooting star?
I live in orkney and work nights.The other morning Mon 10Th 6.00am just as the daybreak was coming in I saw what i describe as a shooting star but it came right down and disapeared behind a local house.Only thing is I would describe it as a turquoise blue colour very bright?
Posted by helen esslemont on 14 March 2014
Thank you for your comment, Helen.

You do not give a date for your observation. Without more accurate information, such as direction of travel and approximate altitude above the horizon, it is impossible to correlate with other observers. However, there are no recognized meteor showers currently so this could be a stray meteor or a piece of space debris from artificial satellites etc. falling back to Earth. The amount of junk out there is considerable!

James Maynard.
Posted by James Maynard on 14 March 2014
solar flare
DearJohn I would like to ask your opinion on a photo I took of the sun on 27/05/12 at 04:46. Although the quality of the image is poor there is what appears to be a solar flare in th top left of the disc. It maybe a fault in the image. I used a canon rebelt2i with an eos 55/250 zoom lens f/7.1. I would appreciate your opinion on this image. If this is a matter of interest if you could provide me with details as how to send this image to you I would be more than happy for your feedback Regards Nigel Baker
Posted by Nigel Baker on 25 June 2012
Thank you, Nigel.

I do not have an e-mail address for you. If you could let me have this via the Guest Book contact (I shall not publish it on site), then I'll be in touch with you promptly.

Best wishes,

John
Posted by JCV on 25 June 2012
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