What I thought was a satellite passing overhead burst into a flash of purple light. (See full description.)My wife and I were the only folks camping at the remote French Creek campground (a U.S. National Forest Service campground) the night of July 3, 1999. Around 9:45 p.m. I was sitting in a camping chair stargazing (my wife was sitting near me but was staring into the firepit at the remnants of our campfire) when I caught site of what I believed to be a satellite. It was a pinpoint of light,(about the brightness of a medium star), that in my estimation was travelling across the sky at a "normal" satellite rate. Just as the object approached in my 12 o'clock position it exploded in a burst of purple light. This "explosion" lasted for 3-5 seconds. There was thin, whispy cirrus cloud apparently between the object and the ground. However, I find it highly unlikely that high altitude ice crystals could magnify a somewhat dim object manifold times. After the quick duration of the flash the object instantly resumed its previous light intensity and continued its traverse across the night sky (heading NNW, app. 320-340 degrees). I lost site of the object in a minute or so later owing to the mountainous landscape. My wife did not see the flash. I yelped just as the flash occured but she did not look up in time to see any of it. Further, she was not able to spot the object as it continued on its course.