|Occurred : 10/3/2013 21:23 (Entered as : 10/03/2013 21:23)
Reported: 10/3/2013 10:52:12 PM 22:52
Location: Harrington, WA
|Adult male witnesses two peculiar lights moving "in train" not Iridium satellites.
I just witnessed a very peculiar event in the nighttime sky.
At 21:23 hrs. (Pacific Daylight Time) on Thursday, October 3, 2013, I was standing outside my home in Harrington, Washington, admiring the stars in a beautifully clear sky, and watching for satellites.
Facing generally northeast, I was searching for the Andromeda galaxy, which was located just to the right of Cassiopeia, hoping to be able to discern it without binoculars. As I was scanning that portion of the sky to the right of the Cassiopeia constellation, my peripheral vision suddenly “alerted” me to the fact that something was taking place above, and to the left of, Cassiopeia, and I quickly focused my attention to that area of the sky. After shifting my attention, I estimate that I was looking at an azimuth of approximately 25 degrees (true), and approximately 75-80 degrees angle of elevation above the horizontal plane.
I immediately noted two very bright lights, each about the size/magnitude of the star, Vega, (located just west of the Cygnus constellation), that were moving slowly from south to north, and were located just “above” the top-most stars of Cassiopeia.
Given that I am generally familiar with that area of the sky, I immediately realized that the two objects were not normal celestial bodies. Moreover, within a second or two of my first noticing the two lights, I quickly realized that the two lights, separated by approximately one half degree of arc (i.e. the diameter of a full moon), were moving slowly; that they were moving “in train”; and that their level of illumination was increasing noticeably, and rapidly.
Within a second or two of my first noticing the two objects, the level of illumination of both of them began to diminish noticeably, suggesting to me that the objects might be Iridium satellites. However, within 2-3 seconds, the illumination of both lights diminished to the degree that neither of them was visible, which was my first hint that the objects probably were not Iridium satellites. My experience with viewing the “flares” caused by the reflective antenna panels on Iridium satellites is that an Iridium satellite can still be seen, even after its “flare” has diminished to a minimum.
I immediately looked at the time on my cell telephone, and noted that it was 21:23 hours (Pacific Daylight Time). (I later checked the time shown on the cell phone against computer time, and the times were within two seconds of one another. Consequently, I suspect that the indicated time was accurate.) Also, within an estimated two minutes of my sighting, I accessed the www.Heavens-Above.com website, in order to determine whether the two objects might have been Iridium satellites. That website indicated that no Iridium “flares” would have been visible on the date, and at the time of, my sighting.
I am baffled by what I have just witnessed. My suspicion is that the objects were reflective satellites, but I cannot find any reference to visible satellites, in close proximity to one another, for the time and date of the sighting. I am open to suggestions from anyone who reads this report.
I will check with a local astronomy society, in attempt to determine whether any of their members may have been out viewing on this date, and may have been witness to the event.