Monroe's Astronomy Pictures / Iridium flare 2


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Iridium flare 2

This is a photograph of sunlight reflecting off of the antennas of an Iridium communications satellite, taken in late 2000 from Belcamp, Maryland. Iridium is a constellation of about 70 low Earth orbiting satellites used to provide world wide cellular telephone-like communications services. Their antennas are highly reflective, and when the geometry between the observer, the sun, and the satellite is just right, its brightness increases dramatically for a few seconds. These flares can be predicted. Email me from the home page if you'd like to know how to see an Iridium flare from your location.

The trees in the foreground and the clouds are illuminated by the moon.