December - snowflakes You are here: Home Photo gallery Astronomy Satellites Iridium flares


When Iridium Co. launched 60+ wireless phone communication satellites into Earth orbit, nobody could know that these satellites would make for an interesting phenomenon: satellite flaring. The Iridium satellites have polished antennae, 3 each, which are oriented in such a way that they can occasionally reflect sunlight from below the horizon downwards to an observer on Earth. The flare of reflection from the satellite can be as bright as magnitude -9, which is 10-20x brighter than the planet Venus can get! Since the satellites are accurately being maintained in attitude, the flares can even be predicted days ahead for any place on Earth, and it is certainly worth to observe a -9 or -8 flare.

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