Unidentified Satellite/Star in Southern Sweden 2011?

Origo

New Member
On the eve of 16th November 2011 I noticed a distinct light source floating through the regular starry evening sky in the South of Sweden. It seemed to be blinking and glowing in a way not quite like the other blimps and stars I could make out in the dark sky. What mainly caught my attention was the way in which the light source/unidentified object was hovering slowly from North East to South East from where I was standing on my lawn. It seemed to me like the object/light source was much closer to my general area than the other stars visible in the sky. While I had no way of measuring the distance to the object from my home, it seemed more and more unlikely that it was a star, due to the way the object was floating across the sky in relation to other stars in it's vicinity. My best guess was that it was either a satellite or a drone. A rough estimate would be that it was a couple of miles away from me, but that's just gut instinct. Drones weren't as common where I live back in 2011 as they are now. I do admit that it might after all just be a star or an exposure error from the camera itself distorting/blurring the shape of the object . But due to the fact that I was tracking the object with my naked eye for almost an hour prior to capturing photos of it, and noticing it's peculiarities. I do believe there really was a physical object out of the ordinary apparent there somehow.

I'm very sorry about the horrible quality and lack of focus on the object. I blame the pitch black sky and a sub-par digital camera which I used. I also used the zoom function to it's maximum capacity on all but the one picture in which you can see the top of a house in the lower half of the image. I hope you can make any sense of the photos regardless. You might have to download the pictures and zoom in closely in order to notice the object in the black backdrop.










 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Some of those photos appear to be crops of other photos. This one:


Is a crop of the image of the house. Is that correct?

The object in that photo does have a light pattern that matches flashing navigation lights. Could be a plane or a drone.
20171107-121637-8r6ax.jpg
The wiggly path looks like camera shake from a 1+ second exposure.
 

Origo

New Member
Some of those photos appear to be crops of other photos. This one
Is a crop of the image of the house. Is that correct?

The object in that photo does have a light pattern that matches flashing navigation lights. Could be a plane or a drone.
View attachment 30033
The wiggly path looks like camera shake from a 1+ second exposure.

Yes, that is correct. 2 of the original photos were cropped and zoomed in by me, mainly because they were the two photos that showed the object clearest out of the rest of the batch. There was most likely some shaky hand movement as I was waiting for the camera to focus. If I remember correctly I might have even used the in-built night vision setting, to put more contrast to the object in the surrounding darkness. What struck me as initially interesting was that the shape of the object seems to stay relatively the same (a winged, wide shape), despite many photographic attempts at capturing it clearly. While I have no evidence to the contrary, I don't believe that the object was a conventional airline. While those do cross my regional area quite a lot, this particular object more or less "hovered" slowly from the South West to the North West of where I was standing for many hours. While I don't know much about astronomy, it seemed like it didn't move in accordance with the the rest of the rotation of the stars or constellations. It seemed like the object was at least within the atmosphere of the earth. Maybe only a kilometer or so above surface level. But this is of course all just speculation on my part. Some type of drone seems likely, if it was of man-made origin. But I have no idea to this day. I thought two of the pictures turned out quite intriguing though (while zoomed in).
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
There's not really any shape in the photos. I think it's essentially a single light source (which could be multiple navigation lights far away). It looks like the lights are flashing, which means it's almost certainly a human made flying craft. Edit: Changed my mind, now going with the scintillating star hypothesis.
 
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Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
My first thought when somebody mentions a light that appears to blink or flash in the sky is the star Arcturus, as that has a noticeable green/red flashing effect when viewed low in the sky, which is quite eyecatching.

You don't mention exactly where or at what time you made the observation, but setting the location as Malmö in southern Sweden, a sky chart shows that Arcturus was setting in the northwest in early evening, and was below the horizon for much of the night, which rules it out. However, Jupiter did travel from northeast to southeast (and on to southwest) in the sky on the evening of that date.

This is 9pm local time:

upload_2017-11-7_20-47-32.png
 

Origo

New Member
There's not really any shape in the photos. I think it's essentially a single light source (which could be multiple navigation lights far away). It looks like the lights are flashing, which means it's almost certainly a human made flying craft.

That does sound quite plausible. The main conundrum for me with this particular object was it's slow, wandering trajectory as well as it's basically constantly maintained altitude. Due to it's extremely slow movement towards the South of where I was standing, it looked more like it belonged to a star. But due to it's luminosity, it seemed much closer. Unfortunately I didn't capture consecutive photos a few hours after, but around 3 hours after these pictures, the object was still airborne at a similar altitude. Though a bit further South East at that point. It's the reason I initially suspected it to be a satellite or the likes, although on photos I admit it resembles a plane or drone. Then again, I have no evidence to back up the object still being present hours after I captured it on photo. I may even have mistaken it as still being present and visible.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.

This looks like a rocket contrail. The winds in the upper atmosphere quickly push the trail into these strange shapes. The sun is still shining on the trail so it's bright in the night sky. The iridescent colors are from refraction in through ice crystals.

Most likely a Russian rocket. Let's see if we can find a record for that date.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
That


This looks like a rocket contrail. The winds in the upper atmosphere quickly push the trail into these strange shapes. The sun is still shining on the trail so it's bright in the night sky. The iridescent colors are from refraction in through ice crystals.

Most likely a Russian rocket. Let's see if we can find a record for that date.
I think it's camera shake. If you bump up the levels on the wide shot (from which that is cropped), then you can see other lights (probably stars) that show the same pattern. They are less distinct because they are less bright and not flashing.
20171107-150310-lnt55.jpg
20171107-150427-zs7u2.jpg
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Okay, I'm convinced. We're back to a scintillating star. Not just scintillation, but chromatic scintillation. The star flashes in colors, like a diamond. Also described as looking like the emergency lights on a distant cop car.

The brightest stars look quite different than the hundreds of others we can see, and have generated quite a few UFO reports. The stars in the northern sky rotate counterclockwise around Polaris, which has fooled many a naive observer into thinking that they aren't moving like stars should.

This is a time lapse photo of a star. The photographer purposely moved the camera to get a trail. As the star scintillates and throws off those beautiful diamond like flashes of color, the trail looks multi-colored.

775794700381.jpg
My best guess so far is Vega.
 
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KAN DAEK

New Member
Okay, I'm convinced. We're back to a scintillating star. Not just scintillation, but chromatic scintillation. The star flashes in colors, like a diamond. Also described as looking like the emergency lights on a distant cop car.

The brightest stars look quite different than the hundreds of others we can see, and have generated quite a few UFO reports. The stars in the northern sky rotate counterclockwise around Polaris, which has fooled many a naive observer into thinking that they aren't moving like stars should.

Stars /suns do not ever flash in colors. If it flashes in colors it is a plane or space craft from other worlds. We have LOTS of those in our sky now. Scintillation and flashing are not the same thing.

Flashing lights on craft are flashing lights.
They look exactly like flashing lights on planes and helicopters. LIGHTS ARE LIGHTs.
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
It's bemusing for someone like me who has been star gazing for decades to be confronted with this kind of thing. I can remember seeing Sirius twinkling in the twilit sky in the spring of 1961. I was four years old. People suddenly start looking at the sky and see things they've been living beneath all their life, but never looked at and getting shocked and then insisting there's never been such a thing before. There's a term, as a matter of fact: "sky shock."

I've been meaning to start a thread about "disco ball stars." They're just scintillating stars such as Sirius and Vega. This kind of thing goes back decades. I can cite Allan Hendry's The UFO Handbook, 1979.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
LIGHTS ARE LIGHTs.

Lights are lights in the vacuum of space. But light through a medium like air can be all kinds of things.
http://earthsky.org/tonight/what-star-in-the-northeast-flashes-red-and-green

So - bright low stars = colorful flashing stars.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I had thought that the flashing was more likely a plane, but looking at the scintillating stars above it seems like that's the more likely explanation.

My reasoning was that the red and white "flashes" seemed to be of consistent length, but looking at it again they all seem to be a series of very short peaks in intensity, with an underlying dimmer streak. That's much most consistent with the star explanation.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
I've been going out in the pre-dawn lately just to look at Sirius scintillating. It's hauntingly beautiful. And I've always thought so. I promise it's been there since 1961, anyway.
 
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Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Vega would have been in the western sky at that time. Capella is another "twinkly" star that is a possibility, but I still think Jupiter is the more likely object.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Northwest. Moving to the NE. I know that doesn't match the OP's description. But people often make mistakes with compass directions. I'm still collating.

Edit: But Vega may be too low, considering the position over the roof. Planets rarely scintillate. Too big.
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
On the eve of 16th November 2011 I noticed a distinct light source floating through the regular starry evening sky in the South of Sweden. It seemed to be blinking and glowing in a way not quite like the other blimps and stars I could make out in the dark sky.

Here's what you say about directions...

Post #1
"...the light source/unidentified object was hovering slowly from North East to South East from where I was standing ..."

Post #6
"... extremely slow movement towards the South of where I was standing..."

"... the object was still airborne at a similar altitude. Though a bit further South East..."

If the you could tell us the exact time you took this photo...
... and the exact compass direction you were facing at the time you took this photo, it would make this a lot easier.

Try to reproduce this photo, but in the daytime. Stand in the same place and take a picture of the house in the same position. Then tell us the compass direction you are looking.

Do you have a compass? Or a phone with a compass app?
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Vega would have been in the western sky at that time. Capella is another "twinkly" star that is a possibility, but I still think Jupiter is the more likely object.

Jupiter does not really twinkle though. That's one of the distinguishing features of planets - they have a visible disk, so scintillate less. Stars are essentially points.

Stellarium actually simulates scintillation (Sky/Stars/Twinkle option). Rather surprisingly when I go to that time/place there was a very obvious flickering star in the NE sky, which is Capella.
20171108-100214-pe927.gif
All the stars are flickering a bit, it's most noticeable with the brighter stars. Jupiter is not flickering.

20171108-100620-9585b.gif

20171108-095707-qzdtf.jpg
(Bromma is just a random town in Sweden I clicked near, right next to Stockholm.)
 
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JFDee

Senior Member.
Is there any chance that the color changes are not happening in reality but rather are sensor- or processor-induced?

I googled a bit and found some things about "hot pixels" which may happen when using long exposures with a tripod- mounted camera; however that obviously doesn't apply to hand-held (shaky) exposures.

If the camera zoom was used "to it's maximum capacity", does that include digital zoom? What would digital zooming make of a shaky point light source, color-wise?
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Jupiter does not really twinkle though. That's one of the distinguishing features of planets - they have a visible disk, so scintillate less. Stars are essentially points.

Stellarium actually simulates scintillation (Sky/Stars/Twinkle option). Rather surprisingly when I go to that time/place there was a very obvious flickering star in the NE sky, which is Capella.
Sounds plausible. Capella was the other option I mentioned as being in roughly the right direction.

Is there any chance that the color changes are not happening in reality but rather are sensor-induced?
Possible, but the twinkling of stars really does flash different colours (typically green and red). Sometimes on a clear night when I am cycling home from the station my attention is caught by a green and red flashing of a bright star relatively low down. Arcturus and Capella are the most common. (Arcturus is low to the horizon on spring evenings; Capella is in a roughly similar kind of position on autumn evenings, from northern Europe.)
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Is there any chance that the color changes are not happening in reality but rather are sensor- or processor-induced?

I don't know. But it is best not to get too locked into one explanation in a case with so little data.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Capella should be visible low in the NE sky in the evening now. I'd try for a long exposure pic, but it's going to be cloudy.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
I missed one description in the previous post.

Post #1
"...the light source/unidentified object was hovering slowly from North East to South East from where I was standing ..."

Post #3
"...this particular object more or less "hovered" slowly from the South West to the North West..."

Post #6
"... extremely slow movement towards the South of where I was standing..."

"... the object was still airborne at a similar altitude. Though a bit further South East..."

Confusing. Let's wait to get an update.


Mistake I've been making: Not taking into account how early the sun sets in southern Sweden on Nov. 11 . About 14:22 UTC in Stockholm - (3:22 p.m. local). Let's wait for the update on what time this photo was taken.

I've looked at the star patterns around Vega, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Jupiter, Procyon, Capella... Nothing matches the pattern in the photo convincingly.
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Alright, so I went old-school and got my Sky Atlas 2000 off the bookshelf, and within 10 minutes I found this distinctive triangle of stars. It's Aldebaran and neighbors in the constellation of Taurus. See if you agree.

This is set to 5 degrees, which seems reasonable. There's one more star off to the right in the photo which is not included here.




Same chart with names and Bayer/Flamsteed codes




A star chart. Be careful about the green lines, which mark the constellation of Taurus. Our triangle starts at Aldebaran and Ain (Epsilon Tauri), and Gamma Tauri is at the point; with Lamda Tauri out beyond. A larger version of the photo I'm including below includes Lamda Tauri.




The stars in the photo above the roof of the house, in a version that includes Lamda Tauri off to the right. Each squiggle is a star. The squiggle shape is due to the handheld camera moving during the long exposure.



Our stars with names. Theta Tauri is actually a double star. Delta1 Tauri is also known as
Hyadum II - a part of the Hyades Cluster; as is Gamma Tauri.




Original photo




Kind of amazing that the camera captured these relatively dim stars. If the camera had been completely still I don't think we'd be able to pick out any of them except Aldebaran. They would have been indistinct dots lost in the noise of this photo with the boosted whitepoint. Ironically, it's the trails that give them some angular size and make them visible.

Now this isn't to say that the OP was looking at Aldebaran. Capella is fairly nearby, above, but off the edge of this photo. And so was Jupiter. Aldebaran is closer to the horizon and would be a strong candidate for scintillation. All of them, except Jupiter of course, are in the same place, just now; this being the same time of year.

But I'm wondering if he was actually looking at the nearby Pleiades just out of the photo. They would be just above. The Pleiades are an open cluster of stars, big enough to have a definite shape, but small enough to be ambiguous and strange. Depending on viewing conditions and eyesight, they can look like individual stars or a fuzzy cloud. And about the apparent size of a not too distant airliner. And from long experience I can say the same tricks the atmosphere plays on individual stars can make the Pleiades kind of pulse and waver. They can look odd. An odd pulsing glow.

OP quotation from Post #3
"I might have even used the in-built night vision setting, to put more contrast to the object in the surrounding darkness. What struck me as initially interesting was that the shape of the object seems to stay relatively the same (a winged, wide shape)..."

It wouldn't be strange if he didn't get exactly what he wanted in the frame. These dim lights in the sky aren't going to show up very well or at all in the viewfinder or on a display. Perhaps he was just pointing the camera above the roof in the general direction, and then assumed what he got in the photo was what he was looking at.

The Pleiades







I'm kind of ashamed of myself. The triangle of stars is an asterism of Taurus.
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
Alright, so I went old-school and got my Sky Atlas 2000 off the bookshelf, and within 10 minutes I found this distinctive triangle of stars. It's Aldebaran and neighbors in the constellation of Taurus.

As a sidenote: I watched Taurus move across the sky every night for several months earlier this year while lying in a hot springs pool in some foothills in Mexico and realised that it actually looks totally like a fox, and nothing at all like a bull. So I propose that we all start calling it 'The Fox' instead.

Alas, my other bids to more accurately rename constellations didn't get much further than 'The Line', 'The Triangle', 'The Other Line', 'Triangle 2', etc. ;)
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Let's not forget that "Origo" may have been looking at the Pleiades, since it seems he's describing something with a noticeable angular size rather than a point source.

If you're still here, Origo, let's try to determine how big it looked to you. Not it's real size, but how big it appeared in your eyes.

If you held an object in your hand, between your thumb and forefinger, and stretched your arm out, what would be just big enough to cover the mystery object?

1. Aspirin tablet
2. 10 Kroner coin
3. Golf ball
4 Apple


Or we could try the finger method... It works because people with fat fingers have long arms and people with tiny fingers have short arms.





I could also suggest that you simply look at the same part of the sky - At The Same Time of Night! - and you may see it again. The stars move across the sky, just as the sun does, so it has to be the same time of night.

This is the same time of the year so the stars will be the same as they were in November of 2011.


 
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Origo

New Member
I'd say it would be something inbetween the aspirin tablet and the 10 kroner coin. Quite small, yet very luminous and sparkling. I think that's what caught me off guard with the phenomenon. The offset of the coloring compared to other nearby regular stars (which mostly appear blinking white or blue), this object had a stronger more yellowish-red tone, as I recall. I'll be sure to provide you guys with photos of the exact same angle and at the exact same time of the year (albeit 6 years after these photos were originally captured). I'll probably have them ready by this weekend. Hopefully a replicated photo superimposed onto the old photo will be sufficient to debunk this mystery.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I took some photos of Rigel just now, as it's relative low, and easily identifiable with Orion's belt

20171121-215329-oxyyb.jpg

20171121-215339-r02ds.jpg

Focussed on Rigel with a long exposure:
20171121-215440-zo6dm.jpg

20171121-215522-xrlf9.jpg

20171121-215600-38z7a.jpg

20171121-215643-ew4xj.jpg

20171121-215708-7dxdf.jpg
 
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