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An Iridium flare or satellite flare is a flash of light in the sky caused by sunlight being reflected off an artificial satellite. More precisely, the term "Iridium flare" refers specifically to a flare produced by the Iridium series of communication satellites, whose large, reflective, panel-like antennae cause these very bright, predictable flares.
When they occur they can be the brightest things in the night sky and, because of the speed at which satellites orbit, can appear to move very quickly. The flares are short-lived as the satellite orientation with the sun and the observers on the ground changes quickly with the rotation of the Earth. As a result of their unique appearance and general ignorance about Iridium flares, Iridium flares are one of the phenomena most commonly mistaken for UFOs and little green men, second only to light pillars and refracted light from celestial bodies.
- Heavens Above provides a collection of online astronomy tools, mainly centered around satellite tracking, including prediction of satellite and ISS flyovers and Iridium flares
- YouTube video of a guy catching a predicted Iridium flare
- A zoomed-in video of another flare, note the drastic increase in brightness