|Occurred : 10/8/2006 20:00 (Entered as : 10/08/06 20:00)
Reported: 10/9/2006 11:16:49 PM 23:16
Location: Sebastopol, CA
|Extremely bright white light speeding SE, high over the Northern California coast.
Walking my dog/skywatching with binocs. Road travels due west. I looked eastward over my shoulder, hoping to catch the moonrise. My eye was caught by an extremely bright, pure white object, almost directly overhead. For several seconds as I reached for my binocs, the object continued to brighten. It now appeared to have rays emanating from it--sort of like a really close helicopter searchlight. I was actually squinting.
At this point it was by far the brightest object I'd ever seen in the night sky. Probably 3-5 times brighter than Venus at it's best. By the time I'd acquired it with binocs, the object had already begun to rapidly fade, and in a few seconds all I could see was what appeared to be an ordinary satellite--traveling from slightly NW to the SE. Fastest satellite I've ever seen, and as I watched, it kept going faster! Lost it in 4-6 seconds. I don't think it's acceleration was due to that effect you see as an orbital object approaches the horizon and appears to speed up before winking out. This was quite different. And I'm very sure that the initial blaze was NOT reflected sunlight. That effect wouldn't account for 10% of the light emitted. Besides, sunset was 1.5 hours before sighting.
I have seen the Space Station several times; twice I saw the shuttle streak over CA before sunrise. This object was the strangest (and brightest) thing I've ever seen in the sky. I briefly entertained the idea that I was witnessing a new supernova, because I couldn't think of anything else that would explain the energy pouring out of this thing. When I realized it was moving faster than any orbital object I'd ever seen, I gave up guessing.
'((NUFORC Note: Possible Iridium satellite. PD))