In the Sky This Month – July 2009

This feature highlights a number of meteor showers, comets and asteroids which are visible during the month of July 2009.

Note: If anyone has pictures or observations of these objects/events and want to share them, send me a comment. I’ll post them here.

Planets

Mercury - Mercury quickly drops out of view in the morning sky as the month starts. After superior conjunction (passing the Sun on its far side) on July 14, Mercury again starts to become visible low in the WNW in the evening. This apparition which is best in Aug/Sept will be great from the Southern Hemisphere but very poor from the Northern.

Saturn – Saturn is still the easiest planet to observe during the evening this month. By the end of twilight, Saturn is in the southwest under the eastern part of the constellation of Leo.

This year Saturn is dimmer than usual. At magnitude +1.0 to +1.1, there are at least a dozen or more stars that are brighter than it. The reason is the rings of Saturn contribute a lot  to the brightness of Saturn. But this year, is a ring plane crossing year meaning that the rings are nearly edge-on. As a result, the rings are reflecting much less light in the Earth’s direction this year.

Ring plane crossings occur once every half-Saturnian year (~15 years). Though the rings are over 70,000 kilometers (43,500 miles) wide, they are only 10 meters (33 feet) thick. Since the rings are seen edge, or width, on during ring plane crossings, they can actually appear to disappear in most telescopes. The last time this happened was in 1995. This year the crossing happens on Sept 4 when Saturn is too close to the Sun to be observed. Still, the rings will appear very narrow and line-like this month.

The 3-day old crescent Moon will pass a relatively distant 6 degrees to the south of Saturn on the evening of July 24.

Saturn_RL_earlyMay

Image of Saturn by Bob Lunsford from early May 2009.

Jupiter and Neptune - Jupiter rises late in the evening and is highest in the sky an hour or so after midnight. Other than Venus, it is the brightest “star” at dawn with a  magnitude of -2.7 to -2.8. Due to Jupiter’s location in the southern constellation of Capricornus , it never gets very high this year.

For those with a telescope or binoculars and a dark sky, Neptune is located within 1/2 to 3/4 degrees of Jupiter. Jupiter will be a bright magnitude -2.7 to -2.8 while Neptune will be a faint +7.8. That makes Jupiter over ~12,000 times brighter than Neptune. Even Jupiter’s 4 large Galilean moons are about a dozen times brighter than Neptune even though they are much smaller. The big reason for the faintness of Neptune is its distance from both the Earth and Sun. It is roughly 6 times further away from us and the Sun as Jupiter. The distance also explains its apparent small size of 2.3″. A good sized telescope will be required to see Neptune as anything other than a faint star. The Moon will pass within 3 degrees of both planets on the morning of July 10.

Jupiter_RL_earlyMay

Image of Jupiter by Bob Lunsford from early May 2009. Note one of its moons near the left edge.

Though Neptune wasn’t discovered until 1846, it was actually observed by Galileo on two occasions in 1612 and 1613. Similar to this month’s circumstances, Jupiter was passing very close to Neptune. Galileo observed and recorded Neptune as a star in the vicinity of Jupiter. There is also evidence that he noticed that Neptune had moved but didn’t follow up on it. So when you observe these 2 planets imagine what Galileo must have been thinking nearly 400 years ago.

Uranus – Uranus is located in western Pisces. It is bright enough to be seen in small binoculars at magnitude +5.8 but will still require a telescope in order to see it as anything other than a star (it’s disk is only 3.5″ across).

Mars – Mars can be seen very low in the eastern sky all month long. At magnitude +1.1, it is only as bright as some of the brighter stars. Mars and Venus start the month within 4 degrees of each. By month’s end, the pair will be 16 degrees apart. Mars will continue to slowly brighten and become better placed for observation as the year progresses.

Venus - Venus continues to slowly climb higher every night. It is currently a morning object and is best seen an hour before sunrise low in the eastern sky. For Southern Hemisphere observers, it has already peaked for this apparition and is slowly dropping back towards the horizon. For Northern observers, Venus will continue to climb higher until early August. For binocular and telescope users, Venus is now in a gibbous phase (between half and full) and is slowly shrinking as it moves further away from Earth.

Meteors

July marks a large uptick in the level of meteor activity. The year is usually split in 2 with January through June having low rates with few major showers while July through December (really through the 1st week of January) have high rates with many major showers.

Sporadic Meteors

Sporadic meteors are not part of any known meteor shower. They represent the background flux of meteors. Except for the few days per year when a major shower is active, most meteors that are observed are Sporadics. This is especially true for meteors observed during the evening. During June, 12 or so Sporadic meteors can be observed per hour from a dark moonless sky.

Major Meteor Showers

Southern δ-Aquarids (SDA) [Date range = July 12 – Aug 19, Max = July 28]

The Southern δ-Aquarid shower is the only major shower of July producing from 10-20 meteors per hour at their peak. They are part of the Machholz complex of asteroids, comets and meteor showers that are the result of the breakup of a single comet into hundreds of smaller objects over the past thousands of years. The complex includes comet 96P/Machholz, the suspected extinct comet 2003 EH1, hundreds of Marsden and Kracht group comets, and the Quadrantid and Arietid meteor showers.

It is the comets of the Marsden group that are directly resposible for the SDA shower. These small comets have never been observed from Earth. There are only seen by spacecraft that can observe very close to the Sun. Due to the very small perihelion distance of these comets (~0.05 AU) they only get bright enough to be discovered when close to the Sun. Currently there are ~33 comets that are known to be members of the Marsden group.

The shower radiates from RA = 22h 36m, Dec = -16 deg.

Minor Meteor Showers

Minor showers produce so few meteors that they are hard to notice above the background of regular meteors.

Piscis Austrinids (PAU) [Date range = July 15 – Aug 10, Max = July 27]

This shower of unknown parentage is a difficult one for northern observers due to the southern location of its radiant (RA = 22h 44m, Dec = -30deg). Similar to the SDAs and the CAPs below, it is active from mid-July to mid-August with a maximum around July 27. At maximum one can expect 2-4 meteors per hour from a dark site. Rates will be even lower for northern observers.

α-Capricornids (CAP) [Date range = July 3 – Aug 15, Max = July 29]

The CAP is yet another southern shower (RA = 20h 28m, Dec = -10 deg) that is difficult to observe from northern latitudes. With a peak on July 29, it can be expected to produce 3-6 meteors per hour. Unlike the PAUs, the CAPs appear to be associated with a known comet, 169P/NEAT.

Perseids (PER) [Date range = July 17 – Aug 24, Max = Aug 12]

The Perseids are one of the best meteor showers of the year and never disappoint… in August. During July, the shower is a consistent producer of a small number of showers as it slowly builds toward its August 12 peak. Expect to see a meteor or 2 per hour from the Perseids during the 2nd half of July. This is way short of the 60-120 meteors per hour that can be seen at its peak though this year the near Full Moon will cut down on those rates.

Comets

Naked Eye Comets (V < 6.0)

None

Binocular Comets (V = 6.0 – 8.0)

Comet C/2008 Q3 (Garradd)

This is the surprise comet of the summer. From time to time what appears to be a faint run-of-the-mill comet will undergo an outburst and brighten substantially. This is the case with Comet Garradd which was discovered by Gordon Garradd of the Siding Spring Survey (Australia). He used the 0.5-m Uppsala schmidt telescope to discover this comet back on 2008 August 27.

The comet was a faint 19th magnitude at discovery. With perihelion expected on 2009 June 23 at 1.80 AU from the Sun, it was expected to brighten but only to about 12th-14th magnitude. Two weeks ago the comet was sitting at 15th magnitude. Bright enough for CCD imaging but too faint for nearly all visual observers. On April 20th Micheal Jager imaged the comet and found it too be much brighter. Over the next few days, visual observers were able to confirm the outburst and estimated the comet to be as bright as magnitude 8.9.

Now more than a month after its outburst, the comet continues to brighten and has recently been estimated at magnitude 7.0. With perihelion this month, the comet should be as bright as it gets though one never knows with outburst comets.

The comet is now visible from both Hemispheres. It travels northward from Corvus into Virgo in the evening sky.

A finder chart for Comet Garradd can be found at Comet Chasing.

A nice collection of images can be found at the VdS-Fachgruppe Kometen (Comet Section of Germany) and Seiichi Yoshida’s Comet Homepage.

Small Telescope Comets (V = 8.0 – 10.0)

Comet C/2006 W3 (Christensen)

This comet was discovered over 2 years ago on 2006 November 18 by Eric Christensen of the Catalina Sky Survey north of Tucson. At the time the comet was located at 8.7 AU from the Sun which is nearly the distance of Saturn. The comet continues to move closer to the Sun and Earth and is currently 3.8 AU from the Sun and 3.4 AU from the Earth.

The comet is currently around magnitude 8.5 and should be at its brightest this month.  It is moving near the border of Pegasus and Cygnus.  The comet is best seen after 10 pm.

The comet will reach perihelion at a rather distant 3.12 AU from the Sun on 2009 July 6. Christensen should remain bright enough to see in modest sized backyard telescopes for all of 2009.

On the morning of April 21, I was able to observe this comet with both 30×125 binoculars and a 12″ dobsonian. The comet was much easier to see in the 12″. Observation was made under a moderately light polluted sky with a limiting mag of ~+5.5.

A finder chart for Comet Christensen can be found at Comet Chasing and Aktuelle Kometen (in German).

A nice collection of images can be found at the VdS-Fachgruppe Kometen (Comet Section of Germany) and Seiichi Yoshida’s Comet Homepage.

Comet C/2008 T2 (Cardinal)

Rob Cardinal, an astronomer at the University of Calgary in Canada, discovered this comet last October. The comet was discovered as part of a survey at  the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory for new Near-Earth asteroids at high declinations. In fact the comet was found within 10 degrees of the North celestial pole. At the time of discovery, the comet was ~14th magnitude.

At perihelion on June 13th, the comet passed within 1.20 AU of the Sun. The comet can only be seen from the Southern Hemisphere as it is located south of the Sun. The comet is currently magnitude 8.5 to 9.0 as it moves southeast from Canis Minor into Antilia in the evening sky. It is too bad the comet is located so far from Earth. At a distance of 1.8 AU from Earth, it is located on the other side of the Sun. If this comet has approached as close as Comet Lulin (0.4 AU) did, Comet Cardinal would be shining at 5th magnitude and be visible to the naked eye from dark locations.

A finder chart for Comet Cardinal can be found at Comet Chasing.

A nice collection of images can be found at the VdS-Fachgruppe Kometen (Comet Section of Germany) and Seiichi Yoshida’s Comet Homepage.

22P/Kopff

All of the above comets are long-period comets which will not return to the inner Solar System for thousands to millions of years. Comet Kopff is a frequent visitor with an orbital period of 6.4 years. Discovered on 1906 August 20 by August Kopff of Germany, the comet has been observed during every subsequent return except one.

The comet reached perihelion at 1.58 AU from the Sun on May 25. Though now moving away from the Sun, the comet still moving closer to Earth and will be located 0.78 AU from us at the end of the month. Recent observations place the comet at magnitude 9.5 which is about as bright as it will get this apparition. The comet spends July in Aquarius.

A finder chart for Comet Kopff can be found at Comet Chasing.

A nice collection of images can be found at the VdS-Fachgruppe Kometen (Comet Section of Germany) and Seiichi Yoshida’s Comet Homepage.

Asteroids

Binocular and Small Telescope Asteroids (V < 10.0)

(3) Juno

Juno was the 3rd asteroid to be discovered after (1) Ceres and (2) Pallas. It was found by German astronomer Karl Harding on September 1, 1804. With dimensions of 320×267×200 km (192 x 160 x 120 miles) Juno ranks as the 10th largest asteroid in the Main Belt though it is the 2nd largest stony S-type asteroid.

This month it will be moving slowly eastward through Pisces while brightening from magnitude 9.7 to 9.1. Peak brightness will come at opposition on Sept. 22 when Juno will be as bright as magnitude 7.6. A few degrees to the eats of Juno is another bright asteroid, (18) Melpomene which is described in its own section.

A finder chart (needs to be flipped upside down for Northern Hemisphere observers) can be found at the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand. Finder chart for Juno from Heavens Above.

(7) Iris

Iris is an inner Main-Belt asteroid that can occasionally get as bright as any asteroid. This year, Iris will not get as bright but will still become a binocular object (albeit a difficult one) at opposition on July 4 at magnitude 8.7. During July, it is located in the constellation of Sagittarius at magnitude 8.8 at the start of the month and magnitude 9.3 at the end. On the nights of July 23/24/25 UT, Iris will pass in front of the bright open star cluster M25 for a nice photo-op.

With a size of 240 x 200 x 200 km, Iris is the 5th largest stoney S-type asteroid. It was discovered in 1847 by John Russel Hind, the 1st of 10 asteroids he discovered.

A finder chart (needs to be flipped upside down for Northern Hemisphere observers) can be found at the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand. Finder chart for Iris from Heavens Above.

(18) Melpomene

Just a few degrees to the east of (3) Juno lies another nice asteroid target for small telescopes. (18) Melpomene is also located in the constellation of Pisces and is only a little bit fainter than Juno, brightening from magnitude 10.0 to 9.4 in July.

Melpomene is another stoney S-type asteroid and similar to Iris was also discovered by John Russel Hind. Found in 1852, it is his 5th of 10 asteroid discoveries.

A finder chart (needs to be flipped upside down for Northern Hemisphere observers) can be found at the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand. Finder chart for Iris from Heavens Above.

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About Carl Hergenrother
I am a professional astronomer specializing in the study of comets, asteroids and meteors. This blog will focus on my professional and amateur work in this field

88 Responses to In the Sky This Month – July 2009

  1. Martha B~ says:

    I don’t know what I saw. A green fireball?

    Around 1:00am, as I approached Exit 90 while driving South on I-95, a green fireball showed up in the sky straight ahead of me, it fell straight down. It was HUGE.

    I waited for the ball of green (flames?) to go out, or fall apart, but it kept it’s green glow as it fell behind behind the horizon. Someone else had to have noticed this.

    I’ve never seen anything this large fall from the sky. The green was the color of the Connecticut highway signs at night when car lights shine on them.

    It was actually a little frightening to witness. Did anyone else see it?

    • Carl Hergenrother says:

      Hi Martha,

      Yes, what you saw was a bright fireball, the result of a very small asteroid hitting Earth’s atmosphere.

      There have been numerous reports of the fireball over PA and NY. Since you were driving south on I-95 (actually
      more to the west at that spot) you would have been looking right at it,

      It is pretty amazing how bright and spectacular a fireball can look even when it is a state or 2 away,

      Thanks for the report and congrats on seeing it firsthand,
      – Carl

  2. Peggy L. says:

    My husband and I were on I-70 traveling NE in the state of Ohio, in the wee hours of Monday, July 6, 2009. We, too, saw a bright greenish fireball with a tail. It was traveling fast and seemed to be right above the horizon, off to our left. It was very odd looking since it was so close to the ground. We lost sight of it; it went behind some trees. My husband estimated that it was probably 100 miles away from where we were seeing it.

  3. keith says:

    I saw it too, was amazing, I live in Colorado, was lookin’ to the East, when me and my friends saw it fly right over us, looked huge.

  4. sheila says:

    I saw it too. I live in Tennessee. It was about 10:00 pm Eastern Time. It looked like it was so close.

  5. Larry says:

    My friend & I saw 3 very bright trails over the southern skies of San Diego at approximately 11:00 p.m., tuesday, july 7, 2009. It appeared to be something breaking up in our atmosphere. Does anybody know what that was ?

  6. Debbie Ferraro says:

    July 6th at 10:50pm central mountain time I was looking into the southeast sky and I saw a big fireball with a orange glowing tail. It seemed low in the sky and traveled from the west to southeast. I lost it over the mountain range. I live in Bailey, Colorado and saw it from 9400 ft elevation. It was quite impressive, since I’ve never seen anything like it before.
    Debbie

  7. Angie says:

    July 4, 2009 just before 10:00pm Eastern Iowa. We were in the pool and saw an orange fireball move slowing across the sky and then it just disappear. Can anyone tell me about that? It was so cool to watch!

    • anton stimpel says:

      I live in San Diego Ca. and on July 4 at about 8:00 or so I looked up and to the west of the constellation Scorpius, I saw what looked like a orange-reddish flare being dropped from very high up. It really did not move right or left. I went inside to get my phone to call someone to verify my sighting but when I returned it was gone. I watched it for about 2 minutes, trying to figure out what it could be.

  8. anonymous says:

    July 14, 2009 00:03 central time, in the western sky above Hartford, WI I witnessed an object fall from the sky into our atmosphere so brite that it lit up the entire surrounding area. At first it looked like a shooting star but it became increasingly brighter as it descended straight down to the earth. Its impact may have been visible if not for dense tree foliage. Its fall was visible for about 3-4 seconds before it was blocked by the trees. Seconds later I heard a faint eruption in the distance. If the object did land, I estimate it to be between 10-30 mi west/northwest of Hartford. Research suggests that it may have been a meteor from the showers that were predicted for the month of July 2009. The sight was breathtaking. Any information reguarding this sighting would be much appreciated

    • CAV says:

      I saw the same thing, I am from the Fond du Lac, WI area. It seemed closer to earth than the shooting stars that I have seen before, and this was BIGGER and BRIGHTER, too. I called my niece and she said it was probably a meteor. I looked up meteor pics on the computer when I came home, and they look similar to what I saw. It was weird, though, because as it got lost behind the trees of the horizon, I wondered if (and where) it would hit the Earth. ?

  9. Casey says:

    Hello everyone,

    So glad I found this site. No meteors last night that I saw, but I was up last night early at 4:15 A.M. and went to the window facing East. I saw the most vivid bright star or planet. I’m wondering what that was. I have never seen anything so bright. I live in Southern Oregon. I need to get up early more often!

    Thanks for your help,

    • Brenda says:

      I saw the same thing Casey reported. I was outside and noticed it about 1:30 am in the east. I checked again about 3:00 am and it had visually moved about the same amount and direction as the moon.
      It’s 11:10 pm here in southwest Ohio and the bright starlike object is not there (yet). I hope someone knows what it was.

    • Carl Hergenrother says:

      Hi Brenda,

      It sounds like you were watching the planet Jupiter. Right now Jupiter is almost as bright as it can get. Right now Jupiter rises above the horizon around 10 pm though with trees, buildings, etc in the way, it may take longer for it to be visible from your place. Every night Jupiter rises 4 minutes earlier, this is also true of all of the stars. By next month, Jupiter will be visible shortly after sunset and you’ll be able to follow it all night long.

      Jupiter is brighter than any star. Of the planets only Venus, and on the rare occasion Mars, gets brighter than Jupiter. If you have a pair of binoculars, take a look at Jupiter. It is big enough that you should be able to tell that it is a small globe. You may also notice up to 4 stars in a line next to it. These are its 4 largest moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto) which were discovered by Galileo in 1610, nearly 400 years ago.

      BTW, the object Casey was referring to was Venus which doesn’t ride till an hour or 2 before sunrise. Venus is even brighter than Jupiter.

      Thanks for writing,
      – Carl

    • Tony says:

      i live in tampa florida. Sunday night(july 20, 2009) i was out having a smoke at 10:30pm est and i looked south and saw the brightest star ive ever seen a little over the tree line. for about 4 minuets it glowed brightly, started to glow brighter yet for another minute, started diming dramaticly, then disappeared within seconds. i though maybe i just saw a star supernova somewhere out there and that no one else would see it. as soon as i picked up the phone to discuss this with my dad, the star flashed back to life just as bright as i had seen it the first time and stayed brightly lit for another few minuets. i was telling him what happened and to go outside to check it out, but before he had a chance to see it, it flickered and dimed all the way out again and i havent seen it since. does anyone know what that was? i was thinking maybe something in space blocked its path and i couldnt see it. but what would have made it disappear the second time and for so long? And if it supernova’d then why did i see the light the second time and for so long? I’d like to know what it was, if anyone could shed some light on this situation i’d greatly appreaciate it

    • Penny says:

      My daughter and I were star gazing last night at about 11:30 pm in Cedar Rapids Iowa and saw a bright flash of light shoot across the sky leaving some what of a tail, but it was so bright that it startled us at first, and then disappeared.

    • Brenda says:

      It’s 1:00 am July 15 and now I see the vivid bright star or whatever it is again. It is where it was last night at the same time.
      Anyone else see it or know what it is?

    • Carl Hergenrother says:

      Hi Casey,

      Based on your description, it sounds like you were seeing the planet Venus. Right now Venus is a morning object and is only rises 2 hours or so before sunrise. By far, Venus is the brightest “star” in the sky with only the Sun and Moon being brighter (and the occasional fireball or meteor). Venus switches back and forth from only being observable in the morning to only being observable in the evening. Next year, Venus will be back in the evening sky.

      Thanks for writing,
      – Carl

  10. Amy says:

    I live in Western NY. About 10P 07-14-2009 I was on the phone w/ my boyfriend (who live in NH over 400 miles away) we both saw at the same moment, what looked like the largest shooting star or meteor either one of us had ever seen. I have not seen or heard anything about the event. This is the first site that explained what two people in two different states saw at the exact same moment. What an amazing thing to see and share.

  11. Jo says:

    July 14, 2009, approx 1:00 AM EST (Daylight Savings), South Bend, Indiana. I only got about a 1-second glimpse at it, but I saw a huge fireball falling NNW from our home, I would guess many miles away. Haven’t heard anything about it on the news…I’m guessing it was a meteor. Pretty cool.

  12. Hunter says:

    It must have been HUGE folks.. as we saw it here in New Zealand .. We were driving in the suburb of “Newlands” which just so happens to overlook Wellington City and Petone.We were driving in an easterly direction and then the biggest flash of light,and what appeared to be a incredibly huge and fast moving object past directly above us – heading East.Because we had blanket cloud cover this seemed to “ëxcentuate” the phenomenon even more.

    Astounding!!!

    • Liz says:

      Hi – i am across the motorway from you in Churton Park and tonight (25 July 09) at about 5.15 – I saw something very similar to what you describe – a smaller flare of light broke off and seemed to spark briefly before both objects disappeared – they were travelling very fast moving east to west. Any idea what they were?? Never seen anything like it. My space mad daughter misssed seeing it but thought it might be ball lightening?
      Cheers

    • Hunter says:

      Hi Liz …

      “a smaller flare of light broke off and seemed to spark briefly before both objects disappeared”

      It was probably a smaller piece breaking off as it entered the earth”s atmosphere.

      I found it amazing that there wasn’t “ANY!!” “NEWS” coverage of what we saw.I mean this thing was monstrously,mountainous in size.For example .. if one were to rip The continent of Australia out of the sea and to roll said continent into a ball,and to hurl it though space @ 20 km per seconds (12 miles per second) that’s what we saw. “IF” we hadn’t been at that exact location ,with that topography,and the height we were at and angle – we would have missed it completely.It was a a truly “fluky” thing that we actually saw the object.

      No sonic boom – no news of 80 million more trees having been decimated and laying like matchsticks somewhere in the world.
      So that means it was traveling outside of the earth’s atmosphere.
      Lets hope they all stay there.

  13. Joanne says:

    Australia – July 15, I also saw what looked like a fireball. It even had a tail. It was big and bright orange/yellow. It was moving quite slow and I only saw it fall for about two seconds then all of a sudden it went backwards lighting fast, then disappeared. This thing, whatever it was, was heading south east. I thought it was really weird that it went backwards. Can someone explain to me what type of asteroid or meteor goes backwards.

    • Hunter says:

      Hi Joanne

      Where in Australia are you? and can you remember approximately what time you saw that occurrence?

      “heading south east”

      If your time corresponds with mine (Australia – New zealand .. give or take a minute” .. probably seconds”) ..then It was the same object we saw.

      “I thought it was really weird that it went backwards. Can someone explain to me what type of asteroid or meteor goes backwards.”

      Hmmmmm

      That is strange!!! I do know that the object that flew over our heads was extremely bright,silent, and traveling at near Star Trek warp speed.

  14. sophy says:

    I’m in north western France in Rennes. I just saw a very large ball (spectrum colors but mostly whitish blue) outside my window. Since it was moving, there was a tail. Wow! Truly spectacular. Anyone knows what I saw.

  15. Jada says:

    I’m in Central Alabama, United States and saw a large burst of falling light off to my Northwest. I could find nothing regarding it on the news or internet. It happened about 8:45 p.m. central.

  16. joseph ghantous says:

    today in lebanon i saw a very weird kind of fireball it was whitish orange fireball and it was going real fast (july 19th 8:30 pm, in lebanon) please tell me what it was.

  17. Derek says:

    Saw a massive bright meteor looking east southeast this morning right before going surfing here in southern Mexico around twilight 6:35am local time. was the most amazing red/blue ball with a tail about 1/4 the distance accross the whole sky. It lit up the whole beach catching my attention as i was not even looking up at the sky at the time. I had enough time to see the sand light up and then look up to see the show!

    Did anyone else see it?

  18. Murt O 'Brien says:

    last night about midnight I went outside for a smoke,when I saw six orange lights coming east over wicklow mountains,as I live on top of a great hill,we have a very clear view,maybe there were more as I saw the first one disapper and behind were two along side followed four in a straight line, looking from where we were at first thought it was planes,or helicopters,at this point I was joined by three other people,we all saw these, having said this where would you see six planes flying in a straight line with no flashing warning lights,we heard no sound either, we stood in awe, never witnessed the likes of this before and I’m sixty two,anybody else say this?

  19. Murt O 'Brien says:

    I would like to add I live in southern Ireland,we have our home in Wicklow,which is south east , overlooking Irish sea,next stop wales.

  20. Rachel says:

    We were in the mountains in Silverton Colorado and I saw a large shooting star. The tail was blue tinged and almost spanned the entire length of a Milky Way cloud that was visible that night. No one else in our group saw it, but we did see 4 other falling stars that night. This was July 14th. I’m not sure of the time.

  21. LL says:

    On July 12th around 10PM, I saw an aqua streak straight downward in the South Eastern sky. We were traveling South on I-75 from Tampa, FL to Naples, FL.

  22. kellyr says:

    I am also replying to something that happened on July 14 around 1 am spain time, so like 7 pm US time. We saw it driving south in Spain. It only lasted a second, but it was the biggest flash of light ive ever seen, like a star lit up 10 times brighter than everything else, and then disappeared. What we saw, however, did not appear to be moving or have a tail.
    is this what other people saw or was it something different? anyone else see that or have any idea what it could have been?

  23. Rob says:

    How powerful of a telescope would you need to view the planet Neptune. And what would you see;
    Thanks

    • Carl Hergenrother says:

      Hi Rob,

      Seeing Neptune depends on how dark your sky is. If you live in a dark rural location, then a pair of 10×50 binoculars can see Neptune with no problem. If you live in a suburban setting, 10×50 binoculars will still work if you can find a spot away from any lights. I know where I live it is hard to find a spot where someone’s porch light aren’t shining in my face.

      Just about any size telescope will be able to see Neptune from the suburbs, and definitely from a rural site. If you live in a bright city it may take a telescope larger than about 3-4″.

      Neptune is fairly small. In binoculars or low power telescopes it will look like a star. Even at high power it may not be obvious that it is a bit bigger than the stars around it.

      If you have trouble with Neptune, try Uranus. It is a little harder to find because it isn’t located near anything as bright as Jupiter, but it is brighter than Neptune and will appear larger in a telescope.

      Sky and Telescope has produced a pdf finder chart for Uranus and Neptune here …

      http://media.skyandtelescope.com/documents/Uranus_Neptune09.pdf

      Hope this helps and good luck hunting Neptune down,
      – Carl

  24. Sarah says:

    Thursday afternoon in San Jose California I saw a light as bright as a bright star during the daylight, the sun had moved west of my house but was still high in the sky, it was between 6 and 630 pm. It was directly overhead, higher than the sun would be and appeared to be stationary. I watched for 5 minutes before I went in the house quickly to get binoculars. I returned in less than one minute and it was gone. Any idea what this was? I’m wondering if it was a pass of the ISS, but I don’t understand why it would appear to stand still.

    • Carl Hergenrother says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I’m not sure what you saw. If it were in the morning, I’d say that you saw the planet Venus which is a surprisingly easy object to see during the day if you know exactly where to look. But by 6-6:30 pm, Venus would have been below the horizon.

      There have been a few occasions when I’ve seen very bright star-like objects directly overhead during the day. When I’ve been able to get a telescope on the object, they always turn out to be balloons. Some have been rather large balloons or large groups of party balloons. One balloon even had a CD attached to it by a string. I guess the folks who launched the balloon thought the CD would make it brighter.

      So I’m not sure what you saw but based on my experience it might have been a large balloon. At such heights they don’t move very fast and it is hard to figure out what they are without binoculars or a telescope.

      Thanks for writing,
      – Carl

      The Transient Sky
      transientsky.wordpress.com

  25. Jon says:

    Hi, I’m in southeast Louisiana, and I was looking up into the sky early July 24, about 2pm. There was a bright object about 45 degrees up in the sky from the horizon. I snapped some pictures with my digital camera. When I took them into my computer and zoomed in on them, I saw something weird. I have the pictures posted at this link. I’m sure it was a planet, but I’m not sure which one? I’m going out again tonight to see if it still there. The object was at least 5 times brighter than any star, and appeared to be “tall” if that makes sense. It didn’t look like a simple dot, but had a little length to it. I’ve been scouring the internet trying to find out what it might be to no avail.

    These are the pictures I took, any idea what this was?

    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=96175&id=606731793&l=f4ac725b10

    • Vicki says:

      Hey Jon,
      I live in a suburb of Perth, Australia. While surfing the net I came across some pictures just like yours from people all around the world. Google ‘star sign’ or ‘matreiya’ and you will find them. Just out of curiosity i went outside last night to have a look for this ‘star’ expecting nothing much but was blown away when I saw a very bright white ‘star-like’ object directly above me (it was about 11.00pm) I tried to convince myself it was an aeroplane light approaching very slowly, however there was no sound, it never got any closer and I watched it for twenty minutes. The points of the star seemed to grow and shrink as if pulsing. Not sure if this is just venus but it seems heaps bigger.

    • Carl Hergenrother says:

      Jon,

      Thanks for the photos. It’s hard to tell exactly what you saw since the photos are out of focus. This is common with most auto focus cameras since they have a very hard time focusing on point sources.

      Based on your description of the object, the time it was seen and its location in the sky, I’d say you saw the planet Jupiter. Right now Jupiter is as bright as it can get which is many times brighter than any star. Based on a number of other comments to my blog, lots of people are being surprised by how bright Jupiter is.

      Thanks for writing,
      – Carl

      The Transient Sky
      transientsky.wordpress.com

  26. Lisa says:

    At approximately 10:15 pm (est) July 24th 2009 my husband and I were sitting outside when he saw 2 objects that seemed to be traveling at a high rate of speed heading southeast. One of the objects was EXTREMELY bright and had a glow or haze around it. When the objects appeared the sky was clear with no clouds. The smaller object appeared to be leading and looked like a typical satellite. Anyone see this or know what it was? We are in the northeastern part of Indiana.

    • Sharon says:

      Hi Lisa
      My husband and I live in south central Kentucky and on July 24, 2009 saw something similar around the same time as you. We saw only one rather large object. Like what you saw, it was extremely bright, moving at least as fast as a jetliner, but no strobes, no red nor green nav lights that we could discern. The object appeared to be at least as large as a very large jet or larger.
      We were so mesmerized by it neither one of us thought to get the camera.
      I went to NASA’s website and tried to determine if it might have been the International Space Station (ISS) but could not tell from the info on the site.
      If anyone else saw this or knows what it was, please post a reply.

  27. Dee says:

    Hi Carl

    I live in Broward County, FL and am looking at a very bright white light hanging low in the sky, to the east of where I am. Is this Jupiter? If so, how long will it stay in this position?

    In advance, thank you for any information

  28. Deryk Peters says:

    I was looking west from Newberg Or. at 10.00 pm. It looked to me like the moon was black, with an orange ring. I’m not sure how to explain to my kids what I saw. Please help as my children were not there and want to know more. Sure wished I had taken a photo.

  29. pete says:

    Hi I think that it must have been a comet, it came from the east , heading south, loked like a small star , when i first saw it, as i was having a cigerrette outside the back door, then i noticed that it was not still, it was moving at quite a pace, it appeared to slow down, then carry on moving, it was not going straigh either, sort of arcing in the sky above, i watched it from the top middle of the sky above for about 3 minutes, untill it started to get low on the horizon, and was then covered by clouds.
    I’m guessing that the slow down and speed up was down to fine clouds distorting the light, don’t understand the path the object was travelling, as it was by far from straight. I would also guess that it was not a UFO as it have had to be absolutly massive, judging the distance it was away from the earth.

    anyone else see it ?
    tvwwg@hotmail.co.uk

    25 july 2009

    regards

    pete

    • Ann says:

      Pete, some friends of mine were at the Drive-In Sat. night July 25, 2009 and witnessed the sky light up. After that they could see a tail so they figured it was a comet. They live in Pittsburg and I’m not sure which Drive-In they were at. What was it?

  30. Dany Hart says:

    I was just outside at 9:15 pst July 25 2009. I saw an object going from west to east.
    I have seen many satellites but they always go east to west.
    I watched it from the west horizon to about 45 degrees from the east horizon when it disappeared , it was bright for the whole time I saw it till it got to the 45 degrees above the east horizon and dissapeared from view what was it?????

    • Ara says:

      I saw the same thing at exactly the same time in Los Angeles. At first I thought it was just a star, but then I noticed it was actually moving. So I figured it was a plane since it was moving as fast as a plane would in the sky, until I noticed it didn’t have any flashing lights! It was a bright white star looking object moving……very weird. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was moving too slow to be a shooting star!

    • Betsie says:

      I was out for a ISS SS sighting here in columbus ohio. We saw the ISS come into view, traveling NW to SE, What an awesome sight! As we were watching it, something very similarly ‘lit’ came up behine it, from the same direction, got ‘close’ to the ISS SS then just flew past it. Our local weatherman saw it but has no idea what it was either. The ISS had the SS docked to it so it could not have been that. Anyone???

  31. Deb says:

    July 26, 2009 – At 12:30 AM Central time in Topeka, KS – I saw a very bright low to the ground white light move quickly across the sky appearing to move from the NE to the SW. It left a long white trail that lasted about 10 secs. I’ve seen comets and shooting stars before – the front “ball” of this was the largest and brightest I’ve ever seen. It look like a lights from a low plane shining brightly in my eyes.

    • Randy Bohannan says:

      At around this same time we were outside in a very rural area SE of Kansas City, MO, we saw a bright orb moving quickly across the sky. The most amazing thing was the bright trail that it left emblazed in the sky for what seemed like moments.

    • Ashlee says:

      I was sitting outside with some friends and saw the very same thing you are explaining. We are in the very SE corner of Kansas. We were amazed at the sight of the tail, it stayed lit for what seemed like forever. It was very cool. Any idea what it was???

  32. Laura Z says:

    I was driving down the freeway around 10:42pm PDT in Fremont, CA (near San Jose) and saw the sky flash blue at least three times. I believe that it flashed from the East. It was almost like the sky looks when there is a lightning strike but it was a beautiful blue. And I did not see any lightning (which would be odd anyway because we rarely have t-storms here). Would love to know what I saw.

    • Jessica says:

      We live in Newark, CA and we saw the 3 blue flashes last night at the same time. We have no idea what they were, but they were a beautiful blue and lit the sky all around us for miles.

  33. Tania Cottam says:

    We r from New Zealand & last night (25 July) we were driving home, passing through Bombay, Auckland and saw what looked like a “mini moon” in the sky towards the south (??), although more of a yellow/orange colour? The sun had not long set & there were stars in the sky. It was definately much larger than a star – but a lot smaller than the moon & was sitting just above the horizon. We were totally amazed, but have no idea what this could be? It was definately not a light of any sort as it was well up in the sky (ie not attached to a building or lamp or anything), & had a clear edge right around it like the moon (not fuzzy like a light or plane). Can anyone help us with this please?

    • Leila says:

      for the past four, five days, tehran, we’ve been seeing this amazing huge star, shade of blue, And its distinctively larger than a star – with a naked eye! But so defined, from southish to south west and some what high up in the sky.

  34. Kayla says:

    Tuesday, July 25, 2009, about midnight or few minutes past, we were driving home, near McPherson, in Central Kansas, going East on 56 Hwy and the most spectacular meteor or whatever shot across the sky, North to South, showing material breaking off at the end. It was a slow, shallow arc and very white and bright. Anyone else see it?? It was beautiful!

    • matt says:

      I saw it at 12.15 last night. We live in the three state area KS,MO,OK. It was east of us toward Springfieldm MO, it was moving slow north to south, it was blue/white colored meteor, it was an amazing sight!! Definately was not a planet.

    • Patrick says:

      Yes, we were visiting friends outside of Springfield, MO. We were all sitting around the fire and were amazed at that long streak of light. It was so bright. Was it a comet? Pieces were definitely breaking off of it and it was extremely white. Never seen anything so vivid and close.

    • Deb says:

      Must be the same one I saw – I thought the time was closer to 12:30 but you’re probably right. It was huge.

    • Ashlee says:

      I saw the very same thing…It was so cool! Did you see the tail it left lit afterwards? I am in Columbus, SE Kansas and we were amazed! Have any idea what it was?

  35. Russ says:

    me and my friends were out on our patio ( July 25th 2009 2:00am ) and to the south we saw (think a star) but it was flickering on and off and moving …. it had no lights like an aircraft . and actually went black for 30 min then came back brighter and then dim we are all clueless and dont Know how to explain it …… also that night we saw a beatiful comet streak across the sky and it had a trail …. it was awsome

  36. Penny K. says:

    Columbus Ohio July 25th- Some people and I noticed a bright almost flickering Orange ball in the sky moving West to NE maybe around 10pm. I am really trying to figure out what it may have been!? We thought maybe a airplane, but the light was bright orange, with no red blimking lights. Maybe the ISS? But we thought the space station is a white dot. Please let me know if anyone else saw this or may know, comet, meteor? Thanks-PK

  37. Peggy L. says:

    We live in East Central Ohio, about 60 miles due East of Pittsburgh, PA. At 1:15 a.m. 7-27-09, we saw a bright streak, for a second or two, traveling EXTREMELY FAST NW to SE, directly overhead. Did anybody else see it? What the heck was it?

  38. Hello,
    yesterday evening around 21.00 UT I was looking at Jupiter with my telescope when, suddenly, I noticed a bright point that ran through the entire field of view of my ocular. Certainly was not an airplane. I have only been able to calculate the speed, in a rough, was approximately 0.02 ° / sec and went in the direction SE. What was an asteroid or a satellite ours? I was not equipped to document with pictures.
    Thanks for the answer that I’ll post on my Blog.

  39. Jon says:

    I pretty much confirmed that what I see is Jupiter. It’s still there, every night, beautiful!

  40. Tessa says:

    I was walking my friends to the bus stop in North London, UK at about 0200 on Sunday 26th and I noticed a huge bright light in the sky, I thought it was first a plane flying in my direction and therefore was that bright and then noticed no flaashing lights. It looked how a comet that passed us looked when I was a child, so bright, white light, it looked bigger and brighter than all the stars in the sky at about 40 degrees. I was a bit drunk at the time so thought I was imagining it to be so bright, I did stand and watch it for at least 10minutes expecting it to be a plane and change route or something.
    It’s mad that loads of people saw it!!

  41. Beverly Cameron says:

    Beverly july 26 while letting my dogs in at approximately ten or ten fifteen I saw a huge blue ball in the sky. It fell very fast and landed some where in the vicinity of north east of Kingman Arizona. It was a beautiful bright blue. I called the sheriff and they did not know anything Since being on the internet I feel better now that other people have seen similar things. What do you think it is. ?

  42. Joan Mahley says:

    What could have been in the Southwest sky July 27, 2009? It looked like a very large half moon but was red/orange. We watched it for 5-10 minutes. I went inside to get the camera and when I came back out it was completely gone.

  43. Tom says:

    Many shooting stars, mostly N to S or E to W (???). Big flash and large contrail from N to S around 1:20 AM.

  44. Tom says:

    Should have mentioned that I’m in S. FL so the big boy that came by was EST/

  45. Rachel says:

    12:30am PST (southern California to be exact) I noticed a planet shining brighter than any planet I have a ever seen before, it is to the East. What is it I am looking at? It is absolutely gorgeous. I know that Venus is bright and is visible a few hours before sunrise, but based on the time and the sheer brightness makes me believe it is not Venus. I am curious, I’d really like to know what it is. :)

  46. Claude says:

    looking at the sky in suburb Minneapolis outside at night around 9:30 pm on July 16, 2009 A tiny bright dot (like the smaller start you can possibly see at naked eye) was moving at a good speed from east to northeast then dissapeared then came back from northeast to east and did that afew time for about 15 minutes. I though maybe it was the space shuttle but I think it was too far. Sometimes the dot got bigger and brighter like a bigger star then got back tiny again alwasy in a constant motion in straight line. Was very neat to see. I ahd my wife and daughters with me and they witnessed it all as well.
    I wonder what it was??

  47. kay says:

    We were camping in Central Missouri (Bennett Springs area) And saw a bright light. At first we thought it was a shooting star but it was going to slow and left a glowing trail. Has anyone figured out what this was yet? Took place around 12:15AM Sunday, July 26th.

  48. Mary says:

    At approximately 12:45 last night (morning?), in Missoula MT, my boyfriend and i witnessed a bright flash of light streak across the sky leaving a reddish pink trail. we saw it for about a total of four seconds. What was it?

  49. Joe K says:

    And I thought I was dreaming. I live in Lower Hutt, New Zealand and I was by Seatoun when I noticed what seemed to be something on fire come hurtling towards Earth it was travelling sooo fast that I actually thought there was going to be an explosion but before it reached the horizon it disintegrated and faded away. The object BIG and bright enough to light the sky for at least 2 secs so how come this wasnt reported on the news??? whats goin on?
    The flames werent the normal colour you’d see with a falling star, the colours were whitish-yellowish with a bit of blue tinge.

    I can tell you I have seem meteors and falling stars and this was not a falling star.

  50. Phil says:

    My girlfriend and I were driving 9:30pm July 29, 2009 where in live in South San Diego, CA, USA and I noticed flashing of white yellowish lighting in skys from the west. I told my girlfriend to look at that direction and it flashed again. We were startled and curious what it was???!!!

    • Claire Bear says:

      Hi I live in England Sheffield and I have just seen a massive fireball tonight about 10 mins ago it was scary but awsome at the same time do you think this was a Meteor? this happened at about 10.30pm it was a bright orange glare and looked about the same size as a Brittish 10 pence coin from where we were stood. it was deffo on fire I’ve never seen anything like it before. It looked like the sun was flying over our house. it made a jet like sound too. (100% deffinatley not a jet though)

  51. Bo Abrams says:

    My husband and I were driving south with the ocean to our East in in Gloucester, MA at sunset when we saw a great green fireball flare from east to west relatively low on the horizon. It might have only lasted 6-10 seconds but it was awesome.

  52. Elle says:

    hi i live in halls creek western australia and was travelling to broome today and i saw a bright white light heading north of west aus about 1:00pm today on the 8th of august! it sort of reminded me of a comet not sure it was though! i couldn’t take any pictures because it was very bright and i couldn’t get a clear snap! did anyone hear anything on the news or anything? i thought for some reason it might have been fragments from space or something?

  53. cary malkowski says:

    i live in romulus michigan (which is surrounded by an airport) last year on july 19 2008 @ 11pm i seen the same thing that i did this year on july 4 2009 @ about 10pm. i haved lived around the airport my whole life literally its a block away and i know what i seen was not a plane.the planes around here are so close to my house your windows rattle!! the first time i seen the orange fireball it was me and one other person and no one belived us. all i can think to call it was an orange orb or ball of fire it had no defined shape and came down very low and then shot off down the street. so really it couldnt have been a satelite right? cause it wouldnt of shot off it was like it had direction. this probley sounds crazy to everyone. i have never stopped looking into what the hell that was it baffels me??? so belive it or not on the 4th of july this year all those people that made fun of me and my friend said hey cary is that your ufo right there? i couldnt belive it myself!! there had to of been at least 30 people that witnessed this!! but of course still some were saying oh yea thats fireworks. no it was the same thing i seen the year before. but guess what this year i gota picture on my daughters friends camera!!! to me its such a big deal!! i dont care what anyone thinks i dont care if people dont belive it i know what i seen i dont know what it was but until proven diffrent it is what is!! its very interesting so please if any one has any imput on this great please do explain

  54. Claire Rees says:

    In reply to Murt OBrien (posts 18 & 19) I was driving with my husband out if Dublin heading south on night of 19th September with I suppose what must have been the Wicklow Hills to our right. It was just before midnight and we saw, to our right about a hundred or so small orange (on fire?) lights suspended in the air and slowly moving upwards and dispersing as they went. There was no recognisable order to them. We pulled over onto the hard shoulder and watched for a while. As we squinted in the dark to see they looked as though they were things that were on fire but whatever was burning didn’t seem to burn out at all. Lots of people had pulled over to watch and no-one we spoke to had the faintest idea what it was. I have seen something similar in London once, I was standing with a friend at one of the bridges and first we saw the silhouette of a big plane (no lights inside nor outside) fly low over the city, then it seemed to slowly turn and fly away again. It made no sound. Immediately afterwards we saw these orange lights (again things on fire which didn’t burn out) only they flew one at a time across the city from south to north at equal intervals and all following the same trajectory. After about half an hour of craning our necks and with no sign of it ending we went home! My friend works in the police force and reckoned he plane was a reconnaissance plane. If so, were the orange lights some covert military operation? If so are the Wicklow Hills a good spot for military exercises too? Can’t find anything on the Internet about this and I’m really surprised since I know for a fact that everyone travelling on that motorway south of Dublin that night must have seen it!! Thank you, Claire

  55. Janice says:

    This morning around 7:00am in Northern California, Brentwood, CA I was driving south and I saw a quick bright blue flash and trail go across the sky. It was so fast that I knew it wasn’t an airplane, but it was quite startling. The sky was completely clear and the sun was up. Any idea of what it could have been?

  56. John Light says:

    I took the dogs out last night (29/10/09) at 12:24am and looked into the clear sky. I saw what looked like a firework, it appeared at about 10 o’clock in the sky and fell to below the tree level. The strange thing was it moved very fast and the colour was bright green and a bit fuzzy it seemed quite large. I have seen what I thought were meteors in the past they they have always been higher in the sky and more yellow. Location northern France between Laval and Le Mans.

  57. paddy kennedy says:

    Hi my wife was at the window in the kitchen a few minutes ago 9.20pm fri 1st jan 2010, and she called me over there was a very bright star with red &blue lights flashing on & off what is this object it is south east faceing over ireland

  58. Wendy Weaver says:

    I saw at 9pm on Aug. 15th a fireball floating through the sky. It was traveling through the sky like anything I have seen. it was just staying horivontile in the sky. the orange ball was kinda glowing or flickering. It was going south of in IL. It was not coming down or going up it appeared to just be floating along. I am not sure what it was. It had no tail or flames coming off of it. It was about the size of a baseball no sparkes coming off of it. I was trying to take a picture but i had no way to do so. It was traveling about 50 -60 miles per hour from what I could tell. Long enough to get a look but no way to keep up by vehicle or such. Did anyone else see this write me at Butterflie8031@yahoo.com or facebook Wendy Weaver……from IL

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