Satellite Flare Visible in the Sky this Sunday

A sudden burst of light called a satellite flare will be visible in the sky in the early morning of March 30, 2014 (Sunday) as a satellite named Iridium 37 directs sunlight towards ground through one of its large reflective antennas. Even with just the naked eye, observers should see the satellite emerge from the northern horizon at around 5:16 am, slowly climb as it reaches overhead (zenith) at 5:23 am, and continue to brighten up as it moves southward reaching its peak brightness at around 5:24 am (Philippine Standard Time), positioned approximately 50 degrees above the southern horizon then eventually fade and disappear at around 5:30 am.

The illustration shows how the sky will look like on March 30, 2014 during a predicted sudden brightening (or flare) of a satellite (named Iridium 37) at around 5:24 am (Philippine Standard Time), approximately 50 degrees above the southern horizon. Satellite flares are caused by sunlight bouncing off a satellite’s reflective surface like antenna or solar panels acting as giant space mirrors directing sunlight towards the ground, with peak brightness lasting for several seconds. Map of the sky generated using Stellarium.

Aside from the satellite, naked-eye objects such as the Moon, Venus, and Mercury will also be visible in the eastern horizon, as well as Saturn and Mars in the western horizon. For a detailed map of the sky (generated by Heavens-Above) that shows the path of the satellite, click here.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

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