12 June 2006: Iridium paroxysm

Jean-Luc Dighaye

On 12 June evening, a flare from Iridium 52 front antenna MMA0 was foreseen at POR Munich, in Virgo, -8 magnitude at 23:59:02 local time according to
Heavens above and -6.5 mag according to Calsky. The latter source indicated that Iridium 98, a spare satellite with unknown status, might flare (also from MMA0 front antenna) to -6.2 mag one second earlier (23:59:01), only 3.5 apart from the Iridium 52 flare, in Bootes.

Both flares went beyond expectations, the brightest one from Iridium 52 exceeding -8 mag, and the other one being almost as bright. It was the most spectacular Iridium event I ever saw.

Image: Canon EOS 5D, 60s exposure time, 85/1.2 lens stopped down to f/2.2, ISO 160. Image cropped to 20 field of view.