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Snowkissed

Flashing Coloured Star

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Last night at 10.20pm my family, neighbours and I observed an intense flashing star which constantly flashed the colours red, white and green at a very fast rate. The star was stationary in the Eastern sky. No other visable star was acting in the same way. Three planes flew passed during this time and you could see a noticable difference in the flashing lights and of course the planes were moving. When we looked at the star through the binoculars we were amazed at the intensity of the colours we saw. Much brighter than LCD lights or the such. It reminded me of disco lights (Could they be having a party on the space station?) Truely a beautiful sight! My family and neighbours observed the star for a good half an hour and I carried on gazing at it until about 12.00am when I had to go to sleep. It never once stopped flashing in all that time.

I have searched the internet for possible answers as to what is causing the flashing; atmospheric conditions, space station, ISS, Sirrus, Mars, etc. However, nothing really seems to fit.

Has anyone else seen these 'chameleon stars' (for want of a better description)?

Could anyone give me a reason for the intense colours and pulsating movement?

:pardon:

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The following link should help. I think it is Sirus sometimes flashes like a rainbow due to our atmospherics.

http://earthsky.org/brightest-stars/sirius-the-brightest-star

Thank you for your link. Yes, I can quite see how this could have been Sirus. However, I am still not totally convinced of this, as I have lived in this house for 10 years, and avidily watched the stars in this time. I have never seen a star behave in this manner and I would have thought I would have noticed Sirus behaving like this before now (?) Also, this star was very high up and I would have thought the 'twinkling' would have been more noticable when it was lower, nearer the horizon. Saying this I am only a Layman - and I will bow to any other persons more knowledgable explanation.

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Last night at 10.20pm my family, neighbours and I observed an intense flashing star which constantly flashed the colours red, white and green at a very fast rate. The star was stationary in the Eastern sky. No other visable star was acting in the same way. Three planes flew passed during this time and you could see a noticable difference in the flashing lights and of course the planes were moving. When we looked at the star through the binoculars we were amazed at the intensity of the colours we saw. Much brighter than LCD lights or the such. It reminded me of disco lights (Could they be having a party on the space station?) Truely a beautiful sight! My family and neighbours observed the star for a good half an hour and I carried on gazing at it until about 12.00am when I had to go to sleep. It never once stopped flashing in all that time.

I have searched the internet for possible answers as to what is causing the flashing; atmospheric conditions, space station, ISS, Sirrus, Mars, etc. However, nothing really seems to fit.

Has anyone else seen these 'chameleon stars' (for want of a better description)?

Could anyone give me a reason for the intense colours and pulsating movement?

:pardon:

Hi Snowkissed

I have seen this many times whilst looking at the stars, and though I think it's most common whilst viewing those closer to the horizon (because of atmospheric influences as you have already read in the above link) it can also happen when stars appear higher in the sky in relation to you.

The 'colour' of the light entering your eyes depends on its wavelength, and the atmosphere, no matter which way you look, can play havoc with star light, especially smaller stars as they are often mere points and so in terms of our vision they are open to even fairly slight affects of refraction.

The following link explains things rather simply, but I think this is what you are seeing.

http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/elements/twinkle.htm

QS

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It does indeed sound like Sirius, which is the only star I know of famous for its scintillating behaviour (a combination of its brightness and the fact that it never rises too much above the horizon at our latitude). At this time of year, Sirius should also be rising in the east after dark.

Do you know your constellations? Sirius is just to the southeast of Orion (or below-left from the observer's point of view).

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Wouldn't have been Sirius...not at 10.30pm in October, anyway. It doesn't rise until well gone midnight at this time of year.

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Do you know your constellations? Sirius is just to the southeast of Orion (or below-left from the observer's point of view).

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The only vaguely bright star in the east at that sort of time would be Aldebaran, just below the Pleiades. It's not that bright though, so would be surprised if it was sparkling as much as described, so perhaps it's not the culprit?!

By 10.30, Jupiter's quite high in the sky, in the south east, but again, wouldn't twinkle as described.

skychartPDF.pdf

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The only vaguely bright star in the east at that sort of time would be Aldebaran, just below the Pleiades. It's not that bright though, so would be surprised if it was sparkling as much as described, so perhaps it's not the culprit?!

By 10.30, Jupiter's quite high in the sky, in the south east, but again, wouldn't twinkle as described.

skychartPDF.pdf

Thanks for the chart OON. I will go out side this evening with this chart and make sure I know where this star is. With any luck it might be flashing again.

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That chart is amazing.

Is it/could it be made available every day on here or some other place.

Just a thought.

You guys know your stuff, keep it up.

STORMBOY

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Last night at 10.20pm my family, neighbours and I observed an intense flashing star which constantly flashed the colours red, white and green at a very fast rate. The star was stationary in the Eastern sky. No other visable star was acting in the same way. Three planes flew passed during this time and you could see a noticable difference in the flashing lights and of course the planes were moving. When we looked at the star through the binoculars we were amazed at the intensity of the colours we saw. Much brighter than LCD lights or the such. It reminded me of disco lights (Could they be having a party on the space station?) Truely a beautiful sight! My family and neighbours observed the star for a good half an hour and I carried on gazing at it until about 12.00am when I had to go to sleep. It never once stopped flashing in all that time.

I have searched the internet for possible answers as to what is causing the flashing; atmospheric conditions, space station, ISS, Sirrus, Mars, etc. However, nothing really seems to fit.

Has anyone else seen these 'chameleon stars' (for want of a better description)?

Could anyone give me a reason for the intense colours and pulsating movement?

:pardon:

If you'd said it lasted for c. 5 minutes, I'd have said it was a plane on a direct course, or suggested the Solent coastguards wheelybird, but neither would stick round for that long. The odd-shaped square you were talking about is the "Square of Pegasus", and the only bright thing near there at the mo' is Jupiter, which doesn't scintillate. Defo not the Space Station, though as that takes less than 6 minutes to cross the sky.

CR

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Thank you to everyone who has taken the trouble to reply to this post. :rolleyes:

I went out every hour from severn o'clock (and at 9.00pn with OON's chart) to map the star. I am not sure if a vail of cloud was covering the Eastern sky last night but the stars in that direction were not as bright as Sunday night. I just could not see the star at all! At 11.30pm I looked for a last time and I think I found it. It appeared to be much smaller and much, much dimmer, it was still flashing(but this was only visable through the binocluars). However, it just didn't seem to be in the same position as when I last saw it (?)It was situated much higher than I remember it being before and I believe it to be close to Pleiades.

I can see how atmospheric conditions can affect the twinkling. There was a noticble wind last night (it was very still on Sunday eve). I can only think this is why I could not see the star as brilliantly as the first time I saw it.

I shall however endevour to buy myself a telescope and re-learn the constellations, as the next time I see this beauty I want to be more informed.

Thanks once again for all your help.

SK

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Wouldn't have been Sirius...not at 10.30pm in October, anyway. It doesn't rise until well gone midnight at this time of year.

That's certainly surprised me! I could have sworn in previous years you could see it this early, though maybe I just used to stay up late all the time (also, the clocks haven't gone back yet).

Hmmm, I am a little rusty on the constellations. However, after consulting with my Father who also saw this star last night, we believe the star to be just outside the 'Crow' constellaion (hoping we have the name right). We don't remember seeing Orion's belt close by. I did note that the star was situated below left of four other stars which were in a shape of a obscure rectangle (Equleus?)

Does that help? :blush:

The 'Crow' constellation would be Corvus, which you definitely cannot see at this time of year (it's a spring constellation). I can't think of any constellation in the eastern autumn sky which might be confused with a crow.

Aircraft and planets don't scintillate (they're too close to Earth as visible objects), so it must be a star. If it's not Aldebaran, it might be Capella: it's noticeably bright (the sixth brightest star in the night sky) and I've seen it scintillate myself when it's low on the horizon. At this time of year the star also migrates away the horizon very quickly, lying more or less overhead in the winter sky. It isn't too far away from the Pleiades either.

If it's not Capella, then I'm genuinely stumped.

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