Strange Light in Sky
September 19, 2009 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Strange one here... but just looking out my Brooklyn window, saw light in eastern-ish sky, very bright, almost as if a spotlight was coming down, then the source of it seem to dissipate, and then the "cloud" itself dissipated shortly thereafter. Any astronomy news tonight of any sort? Or something else? Or did anyone else happen to see anything?
posted by dearleader to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That sounds like landing lights on a jet at La Guardia.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:28 PM on September 19, 2009

(Wait a minute, I mean "at Kennedy.")
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:30 PM on September 19, 2009

Coming down directly at you or towards the ground? If the former, it could have been a specular reflection from a LEO satellite. I've never seen one myself, but the geometry would be right for it and someone I know has described it has "a helicopter shining a spotlight on you".
posted by DU at 6:09 PM on September 19, 2009

Not an answer, but I was walking home with my son, about 7:50 and he pointed up at the sky and said, "Daddy, what was that?" and I said "what" and he said "there was something lighting up the sky, like shining across it". My view at the time was blocked by a tree, by the time I got where he was pointing, it was gone or had stopped. This was in southeast PA and he was pointing north-ish. Weird, huh?
posted by qldaddy at 6:50 PM on September 19, 2009

Having planespotted around DFW many, many years ago, including at night, at first I thought this was landing lights too; most likely a plane taking off and the lights extinguishing as the gear retracts. Clouds aren't a factor as JFK has been reporting clear skies all afternoon and evening. My vote is leaning toward police helicopter. Saw plenty of them living near a big city and they do look kind of eerie from a distance. From a mile away you can't really hear any chopper noise, and they tend to hover at about 500-1500 ft and turn the spotlights on and off.
posted by crapmatic at 7:36 PM on September 19, 2009

How long did the light last?

If it was about 8-10 seconds, it could have been an Iridium flare. Use heavens-above to get times for your location. They are mind-blowing once you understand what you are seeing.
posted by intermod at 10:08 PM on September 19, 2009

If we could see it from Boston, I'm guessing it had to have been visible from Brooklyn:
posted by dreadpiratesully at 11:51 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Further info here.
posted by mmoncur at 2:49 AM on September 20, 2009

I just saw this and think that's it!
posted by peagood at 7:08 AM on September 20, 2009

Wow, thanks for posting this. I saw it too, in way, way, way upstate New York. I thought it must have been a helicopter, but it disappeared so quickly I was getting a little x-files vibe.
posted by saffry at 9:09 AM on September 20, 2009

Just saw this on Gothamist.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:11 PM on September 20, 2009

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