NFR: Fun with iridium flares


Active Member
Clear brilliant skies over here on the upper NE side provide some great nightime viewing for whatever might be in the sky. The ISS is an easy one to spot and iridium flares are cool when you time them just right. The astronomers on here know what I'm talking about but in case you are unfamilar with the term they are about 100 satellites in fairly high earth orbit that have large reflective panels that glint sunlight back to earth during their orbits.

These orbits are highly predictable and if you know where and when to look you might be rewarded with what looks like a flashbulb going off in space. Depending on your location the flares can be as much as twice as bright as the planet Venus. This is a good time of year to look for them as the nights are a little longer and a lot of us are going to be out camping on hunting or fishing trips.

To spot them go to the Heavens Above home page and put in your coordinates. A list will show up when you select Iridium Flares and you can pick the time that you are best able to view. The sight provides a star chart to make it easy to see which direction to look and also provides a ground track to see where it is crossing your location. Unlike Amtrak these are right on time. With so many of these things in orbit there is a certainty that one will be in your neighborhood soon.

A tip that will help you decide which one to look for is that a magnitude of -8.6 is vastly more bright than a magnitude of 1.6 for instance.

Happy viewing, Ive


Active Member
Thanks, and amazing what's in the nighttime skies. I have a (my, not my city wife's) home in MT that's on solar, 5 miles from lights and it's amazing what's in the skies with near total darkness. Definitely will check out the sites you posted.

Alex MacDonald

that's His Lordship, to you.....
I used to bowhunt near Highway 108 in central CA years ago, near Highway 97 on the East side of the Sierra; this is one of the darkest parts of the nation. There were times when we got up at 3am, and you could read the newspaper by starlight!


Active Member
You are not kidding about amazing stuff in the skies. I see things that defy conventional logic at times. For sure there are things going on that haven't been revealed to us peons.

Keep looking up.