You Can’t Be Sirius!

Last night around 9:30 or so, I glanced up into the clear evening sky and noticed a bright object to the southwest about 30 degrees from the horizon. At first it was no big deal as I considered it to be a jet or far-off helicopter, but then I noticed that the bright object was not moving from its location, even after 5 minutes. I then went inside, grabbed a pair of binoculars, and went back out to study the phenomenon. Through the glasses, the object appeared more vivid with pulsating lights of a definitive white, red, blue and what I thought seemed to be a faint trace of green. I figured it was a weather balloon or high-flying helicopter. It vaguely reminded me of the flashing lights of a police car way, way off in the distance. I mentioned it to my Father who was nearby, and his conclusion after giving it the once over, was that it was a satellite.

Today, I remembered to look this up on google, and found many other posts of people seeing exactly what I saw last night. The difference though, was that these posts by other witnesses, spanned a time period of about 5 years with nothing about last night. Usually the light was located in southern sky but not always. Others around the country have noticed it in the west and one observer from Michigan, just north of here, saw it to the north. One common denominator is that it appears in the late winter to middle spring months.

After digging around on the internet for about 30 minutes, I found some information from a professor of astronomy whose description of the bright pulsating light in the sky would indicate that it was the second brightest star in our visibility (outside of our own sun) named Sirius. He explained that the atmosphere of the earth creates the glittering effect due to the oblique angle from the point where the observer is located. I’d heard of Sirius (the star and the satellite radio station) through the years but never really noticed it in the sky before.

I am about 90 percent convinced that what I saw last night was the bright star Sirius, but there is also the possibility that it was Rigel, the 6th brightest star in the sky. I am continuing research on this topic and if any interested reader happens to have anything to share, please feel free to comment.

I guess I’m showing my age, because looking at that star was the highlight of my entire day yesterday. Being that 24 hours have now elapsed since the initial event that inspired this post, I took a peek outside and low and behold, there it is again!

Steve D.
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