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Carmine, TX

Sighted on Monday 17. September 2012
Reported on
Shape: Fireball | Duration: 4 minutes
Source:

Large extremely bright star-like object moved steadily from zenith to northern horizonMonday September 17 2012 A friend and I were sitting on front porch (facing north) about 9 PM – the skies are very dark in the rural part of central Texas where we live (about 60 miles east of Austin and 100 miles west of Houston).Looking straight at Polaris directly in front of us at 30 deg. elevation (our latitude), Cassiopeia was a bit higher than 3 o’clock.A bright star-like object appeared just south (towards the zenith) of a line between Polaris and the central star of Cassiopeia (Gamma Cas). It was much larger and brighter than Venus has been this summer, so it was easily the most brilliant object in the sky.At first we thought it was an airliner with its landing lights on. We see these often from Houston airports and occasionally from Austin. But the airliners are never this large or bright and they always have little blinking red and green lights also, which are especially noticeable in binoculars. I looked at this object with a pair of inexpensive 8 x 40 wide field binoculars and could see no blinking red and green lights at all. Airliners usually turn off the landing lights before they reach this point in our sky, so I’m sure this was not an airliner. My friend was also sure of that. He said, “That has to be a satellite or spaceship of some kind.” The object moved steadily in a straight line just due east of north and crossed the (imaginary) line connecting Polaris with Gamma Cas at about the 20% mark measuring from Polaris. I followed it the binoculars for a minute or so after my friend could no longer see it with the naked eye. It continued to grow fainter as it neared the horizon, but the intrinsic brightness did not appear to vary, and I eventually couldn’t see it anymore.It reminded me of a satellite in polar orbit – the speed was about right – but I’ve never seen a satellite (and I’ve observed many) that was this large and bright. Total time the object was observed was about three to four minutes.

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