Bright “Comet” Seen Over Canada and the Northern US
September 10, 2009 9 Comments
I received a number of reports of 2 bright objects flying over Canada and the northern United States. All of the sighting occurred around 9:40 pm.
Cynthia reported: Tonight at around 940 I saw a star slowly moving across the sky with what seemed like a trail of very faint white behind it and at first i thought maybe it was a plane but there were no flashes or colors, just looked like a star. Then after about 10 seconds started to move farther away, as it disappeared another star the same size moved across the sky in the same direction and seemly on the same path and did the exact same thing, went across the sky then gradually out and disappeared…What is this I saw? It was pretty amazing to see.
What everyone saw was not a meteor or a comet or any extraterrestrial phenomenon.Rather it was a fly-over of the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery which has just left the Space Station a day earlier. Now usually the Station and Shuttle appear as nothing more than bright stars. The Station can often rival Venus in brightness and has been known to flare many times brighter than that.
The strange object with the comet-like tail was the Space Shuttle Discovery. Since its mission is almost over (it is scheduled to land today), the astronauts were conducting a number of “water dumps”. This is a process by which excess water is disposed of by venting it into space. The water quickly freezes and creates a cloud of ice particles. These particles caused the brilliant “tail” as they reflected sunlight. Unfortunately, the ice rapidly sublimates so the whole event only lasts for a few minutes.
A few pictures of the water dump can be found at Spaceweather.com.