Iridium flare tonight
These cold, clear nights are great for stargazing. Or in this case satellite gazing. For weatherblog fans in the Baltimore area, there's a great opportunity tonight just after 8 p.m. to spot an Iridium flare. That's a bright glint of sunlight reflecting off the shiny antennas of one of the constellation of Iridium telephone satellites in polar orbits around the Earth. At 8:12 p.m., look about halfway up the sky over the southeastern horizon and watch for the sudden appearance of a white light. It will flare up to become the brightest thing in that part of the sky, then fade away just as quickly. You have to be alert, and scan that part of the sky a bit to catch it. It doesn't last long. This time it's Iridium 84, launched Nov. 6, 1998 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. For more Iridium predictions for your location, visit Heavens Above, program it for your town, and click on Iridium flares. If you miss tonight's show, look in the same spot tomorrow night at 8:06 p.m. for Iridium 12.