Dual Iridium Flares Above the Church of St. Peter

June 10, 2007

Stpeterflarefr copy

Provided and copyright by: Chris White
Summary authors & editors: Chris White

On February 7th (2007), I was made aware of an opportunity to view dual iridium flares, with almost no delay between the two and with both center-lines within a half mile of each other. Iridium flares are brief but often bright reflections of sunlight off of low-orbit Earth satellites (the "Iridium fleet" of satellites). This event occurred just east of my home in metropolitan Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I had figured that the optimal spot between the center-lines was along 93.1705 west longitude (Dec Deg NAD27) and that the flare would occur at about 7:23:33 p.m. (local time). I then began looking for suitable foreground objects to frame the flares and eventually selected my target (Church of St. Peter in Mendota Heights, Minnesota) an hour or so before the predicted apparition.

The flares from Iridium satellites #59 and #96 were expected to be in the -8 magnitude range. At 7:27 p.m., I looked up in the sky and started counting to 90. The flares initially looked like dim fireflies. As I hit the shutter release, the flares grew to incredible intensity, before disappearing approximately 14 seconds later.

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