Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

Iridum Flare Image Gallery

The observation and imaging of Iridium flares has become something of a cult. Iridium satellites' sole purpose is to assist in global communications (digitized phone calls, wireless electronic mail etc) and number 66 in total now that current orbiting plans are complete where eleven satellites have been allocated to six equally-spaced orbital planes covering the entire surface of our planet (original plans called for eleven satellites across seven orbital planes and, hence, for the name Iridium which represents the 77th element of the periodic table). These satellites are placed in low-earth orbit and completely circle our planet every 100 minutes (or 14.34 times/day).

Iridium flares represent the unique occurrence in space and time where the panels of the satellite perfectly redirect the solar or lunar light onto an observer on the planet's surface. Aside from the silhouette images that one can capture during a solar transit (see my web page dedicated to solar and lunar transits), Iridium flares represent the only other means by which a ground-based observer can detect or observe a satellite during the day. With a peak magnitude of about -8.4, these flares can easily compete with a well-developed crescent moon during darkness and can be quite visible during the day as well.

Although you may see references to Iridium satellites with an ID greater than 66, for approximately 88 such satellites have been launched to date, the ultimate number still remains at 66 Iridiums. The excess represent back-ups, various failed missions and some still not in their proposed operational latitude.

Please click on the image below to display in higher resolution (1200 x 950)

Iridium Flares
Image Satellite Date
Time
Range
(km)
Mag Mag at
flare
center
Distance
from flare
center
Flare
Type
Azimuth Altitude Exposure
Details
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
06
Jul 18/02
19:04 UT
957
-7.8
-8.2
5.0 km
W
Solar
73
53
FUJI 400 Superia, 35-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
08
Dec 20/01
03:47 UT
1111
-7.8
-7.9
3.0 km
E
Solar
343
41
FUJI 400 Superia, 60-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
19
Jun 26/02
03:47 UT
1798
-6.5
-6.5
7.4 km
E
Solar
44
19
FUJI 400 Superia, 30-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Rising full moon mitigating brightness of the flare!
Iridium
23
Oct 11/01
17:43 UT
1009
-7.6
-8.1
4.9 km
W
Solar
148
48
FUJI 400 Superia, 30-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
25
Jul 20/02
02:06 UT
2110
-5.5
-5.6
23.3 km
W
Solar
86
13
FUJI 400 Superia, 20-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Note rising Saturn to the immediate west of the flare!
Iridium
27
Imaging not possible
due to
satellite decay
Launch Date: Sep 14, 1997
Decay   Date: Feb 01, 2002
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
29
Jun 09/02
21:10 UT
1482
-5.1
-7.1
13.3 km
E
Solar
52
26
FUJI 400 Superia, 30-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
With intermittent clouds in the immediate vicinity.
Iridium
31
Jun 04/02
20:27 UT
1944
-6.3
-6.3
3.7 km
E
Solar
42
16
FUJI 400 Superia, 35-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
32
Nov 25/01
03:56 UT
1045
-8.0
-8.1
2.8 km
E
Solar
346
49
FUJI 400 Superia, 60-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
33
Jun 17/02
10:41 UT
1146
-7.7
-7.7
1.4 km
E
Solar
61
40
FUJI 400 Superia, 30-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
34
Jul 03/02
21:07 UT
1361
-6.7
-7.3
8.9 km
E
Solar
55
30
FUJI 400 Superia, 20-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
36
May 13/02
03:01
902
-6.3
-8.4
6.1 km
W
Solar
249
58
FUJI 400 Superia, 30-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Jul 07/02
20:52 UT
1197
-5.4
-7.6
10.7 km
W
Solar
60
37
FUJI 400 Superia, 30-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Flaring satellite through noticeable clouds.
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
40
Jul 14/02
01:46 UT
1199
-5.2
-7.7
11.9 km
E
Solar
282
37
FUJI 400 Superia, 40-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
45
Oct 05/01
17:43 UT
1031
-8.1
-8.1
0.5 km
W
Solar
133
48
FUJI 400 Superia, 40-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
47
Oct 10/01
17:21 UT
1045
-7.8
-7.8
3.0 km
W
Solar
177
45
FUJI 400 Superia, 40-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Note Mars and 7-day old Moon to the immediate south of the flare!
Feb 17/02
17:36 UT
1105
-7.9
-7.9
0.6 km
E
Solar
21
42
FUJI 400 Superia, 25-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
48
Imaging not possible
due to
satellite decay
Launch Date: Dec 20, 1997
Decay   Date: May 05, 2001
Iridium
53
May 12/01
01:18 UT
1969
-6.3
-6.3
2.9 km
E
Solar
107
17
FUJI 800 Superia Xtra, 45-sec exp
Canon A-1, 100 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
58
Jun 28/02
19:53 UT
928
-6.1
-8.2
5.7 km
E
Solar
71
56
FUJI 400 Superia, 30-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Note simultaneous pass by the Okean 0 rocket body to SW of flare.
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
65
Oct 20/02
16:38 UT
964
-7.3
-8.1
3.8 km
E
Solar
19
52
FUJI 400 Superia, 30-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Rising full moon and thin clouds mitigating brightness of the flare!
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
67
Jul 14/02
02:13 UT
1426
-7.1
-7.1
0.2 km
E
Solar
119
28
FUJI 400 Superia, 40-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
74
May 15/02
18:45
944
-8.2
-8.3
2.4 km
E
Solar
79
54
FUJI 400 Superia, 30-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
79
Imaging not possible
due to
satellite decay
Launch Date: Sep 08, 1998
Decay   Date: Nov 29, 2000
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
80
Oct 19/02
03:27 UT
1126
-7.6
-7.7
2.7 km
E
Solar
01
41
FUJI 400 Superia, 35-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
84
Jul 18/02
20:29 UT
1845
-6.5
-6.5
2.7 km
W
Solar
46
18
FUJI 400 Superia, 35-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece
Iridium
85
Imaging not possible
due to
satellite decay
Launch Date: Nov 06, 1998
Decay   Date: Dec 30, 2000
Photo
Available
Soon
Iridium
86
Jul 31/02
20:46 UT
1079
-7.9
-7.9
3.0 km
W
Solar
69
38
FUJI 400 Superia, 25-sec exp
Argus Cosina STL 1000, 55 mm @ f/2.8
Loc: Athens, Greece