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Old 07-31-2014, 12:12 AM
 
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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Many years ago when I was at boarding school I was out at night just looking up at the stars (clear sky, no moon, no city lights). I was looking directly overhead at a cluster of perhaps five or six stars when the star in the centre began to move. It appeared to accelerate and as it did so it became fainter until it was moving quite fast and moved maybe three or four degrees (maybe more) before disappearing. I have always been puzzled by this and have never found an explanation. That 'star' was as bright as the others in that small cluster and was stationary for a quite a while (5 to 15 seconds maybe) before it began to move. In those days (sixties) satellites moved rather fast and were usually only visible in the late afternoon/dusk when the sun catches them, never at night. What could it have been?
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Old 07-31-2014, 12:37 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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Depending on the time of day and the season, I would guess weather balloon. The closer to the poles the longer the stuff in the upper atmosphere continues to be struck by the sun. If the balloon was ascending into an air current, it could appear stable ascending, then start to move, then begin to move in the shadow of a cloud or the earth's shadow.
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Old 07-31-2014, 01:50 AM
 
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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This was at about 30° latitude and well past sunset, probably around 8~9 pm (sunset around 6 pm) and looking straight up. Would a weather balloon be in sunlight that long past sunset? The sky was totally dark apart from the stars. I would have thought something higher up but how would that be possible?
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Old 07-31-2014, 01:56 AM
eok
 
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Keep in mind that the higher it is, the farther its horizon, and the longer till sunset from its point of view.
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:21 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
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Reconnaissance ship from some other civilization?
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:56 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 303Guy View Post
This was at about 30° latitude and well past sunset, probably around 8~9 pm (sunset around 6 pm) and looking straight up. Would a weather balloon be in sunlight that long past sunset? The sky was totally dark apart from the stars. I would have thought something higher up but how would that be possible?
You didn't mention the month (I would infer something around April or late September from the sunset), but yes quite possible for one to be in sunlight that long. I suspect a weather geek could, given more exact information on date and location and time, provide a minimum altitude. Some of the balloons go quite high.
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:55 PM
 
Location: West Hollywood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 303Guy View Post
Many years ago when I was at boarding school I was out at night just looking up at the stars (clear sky, no moon, no city lights). In those days (sixties) satellites moved rather fast and were usually only visible in the late afternoon/dusk when the sun catches them, never at night.
I don't know a lot about satellites in general, let alone in the 1960s, but is there a reason why satellites travel faster and can't be seen 3 hours after sunset back then? I would imagine because they fly lower, but then again several satellites in those days orbit more than 600 miles above the earth… 3 times the orbit of the ISS.

Anyway, moving star-like objects are pretty common. I wish I knew what they were also, but I tend to dismiss them for satellites so I'm not any help there. Another possibility is maybe our mind is playing tricks when we think that an object has been stationary for a while before it starts moving. Unless we look at that star intently and expect it to move, we'll never know if that object was really there that long (or if it ever was stationary there in the first place). It's almost like our mind is automatically filling in the gap in space and time without us knowing. Just another possibly I wanted to put out there.
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Old 08-12-2014, 02:15 AM
 
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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Well, I still puzzle over it. I cannot locate the likely group of stars I saw it in, not that it matters but I now live further south so overhead has shifted. I was just star gazing and happened to look at this small cluster of stars directly overhead when the centre one slowly began to move so I watched it and it sped up and became fainter. A weather balloon still in sunlight has been suggested and to check this possibility I need to have a look at how high it would need to be some two hours after sunset. A satellite seems unlikely as they don't change speed like that and besides, all the satellites I saw back then were late afternoon and moved pretty fast from horizon to horizon. This object I saw I think was in the east-west line. I don't think it was my mind playing tricks though (although such a possibility always exists). There was something there I'm sure, I just don't know what and my curiosity won't let me let it go.
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 303Guy View Post
Well, I still puzzle over it. I cannot locate the likely group of stars I saw it in, not that it matters but I now live further south so overhead has shifted. I was just star gazing and happened to look at this small cluster of stars directly overhead when the centre one slowly began to move so I watched it and it sped up and became fainter. A weather balloon still in sunlight has been suggested and to check this possibility I need to have a look at how high it would need to be some two hours after sunset. A satellite seems unlikely as they don't change speed like that and besides, all the satellites I saw back then were late afternoon and moved pretty fast from horizon to horizon. This object I saw I think was in the east-west line. I don't think it was my mind playing tricks though (although such a possibility always exists). There was something there I'm sure, I just don't know what and my curiosity won't let me let it go.
It could have been a meteor skipping through the upper atmosphere and back out into space. Such an object could also appear to speed up and become fainter.
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Old 08-13-2014, 03:12 AM
 
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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Quote:
It could have been a meteor skipping through the upper atmosphere and back out into space. Such an object could also appear to speed up and become fainter.
That makes sense and would explain what I saw. It's hard to imagine what else it could be. Thanks. I was thinking about the weather balloon possibility and I kind of think the speed was too great for a high level atmospheric balloon and I think it was fully in the earth's shadow (I still haven't checked - work keeps interfering with the fun things).
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