Dying satellite to light up the Derbyshire night sky tonight

Ten-year-old Freya Kirkpatrick sets up a camera to capture an Iridium Flare visible over Derbyshire tonight - an event that may not be possible to see again from this autumn.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 6th August 2018, 10:29 am
Updated Monday, 6th August 2018, 10:33 am
Freya Kirkpatrick looks to the skies. Photo by F Stop Press
Freya Kirkpatrick looks to the skies. Photo by F Stop Press

She used an app on her iPad to predict the exact bearing, elevation and time to photograph the heavenly event.

An Iridium Flare is when sunlight is reflected off an Iridium satellite. All 66 of these old, low-orbit, communications satellites are all currently being de-orbited and tumbling back to earth and are being replaced with new ones that will not reflect light in the same way. Many of these satellites will remain in a decreasing orbit for years to come but their ‘flares’ will become harder to predict.

Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium Communications said: “By autumn 2018 we will not need any more of the original satellites.

“So in terms of satellites that are under our control and still predictably flare, the last one will be around the end of 2018.”