general astronomy question

While standing at the bus stop this morning at 5:45 am PST here in Portland, OR I noticed somthing that was far too bright to be a star. It was just above the tree line at about ESE.

Was this a planet? Could it have been the space station?

Probably just a satalite.

I don’t know if Venus is visible right now, but it sounds like what you’ve described. A very bright “star” low in the ESE sky early in the morning. That’s my bet. Most satellites would be far too dim to see in the light of dawn.

Portland, Oregon, is 45.52 N, 122.67 W, and 7 hrs behind UT. The time was therefore 12:45 UT. The US Naval Observatory allows you to get the information you need

Celestial Navigation Data 
for 2002 Nov 25 at 12:45:00 UT
 For Assumed Position:
  Latitude    N  45 31.0 
  Longitude   W 122 45.0 

                        Almanac Data                
 Object       GHA        Dec         Hc       Zn    
              o   '      o   '      o   '       o   
 MOON       125 29.7   N22 59.7   +67 22.1   186.6  
 VENUS       47 10.4   S11 27.3   + 1 41.0   108.3  
 MARS        50 59.8   S 9 13.3   + 5 52.0   109.5  
 JUPITER    114 55.4   N16 02.9   +59 48.6   164.9  
 SATURN     168 24.2   N22 04.7   +46 13.4   253.3  

Your observation is too vague but I guess it was Venus rising.

>> Probably just a satalite

Satelites move very fast in the sky. It was not a satelite.

In case it is not clear to someone, in the above table, Hc is the height above the horizon and Zn is the azimuth from N, so Zn=108 is ESE and Venus was just a few degrees above the horizon and rising. Note that Mars was close by and just a bit higher up but Venus would be brighter. I am too lazy to check the brightness of each at that time. Maybe the bad astronomer or someone else would lend a hand.

By the way, we have answered the same question several times in the past. If you saw a bright object in the sky and it was moving, chances are it was an airplane. If it was not moving and it was not far from the Sun, chances are it was Venus and if it was far from the Sun chances are it was Jupiter.

Here’s a similar thread I opened, wherein I was soundly convinced the object was Venus and could certainly not be the ISS.

Venus has been extremely bright in the morning sky. And I understand Jupiter is quite spectacular near the moon these days, er, nights. I wish I lived away from the ambient light so I could drag out the ol’ telescope. Stupid suburbs…

I’ve seen Venus too, the past couple of days. The first day I noticed it was so bright, I thought it was an aircraft landing and had a its landing lights on, but of course it didn’t move.

I’ve never seen it as bright as it is now.

Definitely Venus. I’ve had this question asked to me at least three times in the last week and every time we’ve sat down and worked it out it has ended up being Venus. For some reason, people just don’t expect Venus to be so bright. Whenever it switches from evening to morning sky we tend to get a lot of questions about it.

I am comfortably asleep at those early morning hours. As My father once said: “Early to bed and early to rise . . . and you never meet any interesting people”.

Even more so when it goes from morning to evening, in my experience.

It may have been an Iridium flare. Sunlight bouncing off an Iridium communications satellite. Can be very bright, I think around -6 or -7 mag. Significantly brighter than Venus. If it was an Iridium flare, then it would have faded after a short amount of time.

Iridium flare? This almost sounds like someone’s been watching too much Star Trek.

All kidding aside. I’m pretty sure it’s Venus. I saw it again this morning only slightly higher… I think.

John Ashcroft just took your picture…:eek:

Not always, though this is the common answer I hear. I have seen what I was told repeatedly was a communications satelite in the sky. It was not moving at all. Geo-synch and all that.

You have seen a geosynch satelite with your naked eye as a bright object in the sky? I very much doubt the veracity of such an audacious assertion and would be very much obliged if you could provide some proof in support thereof.

Not to mention geosynch satelites would have a mostly southern azimuth.

Yeah, let me go back in time, film my lunch break with the guy I worked with that was taking an astronomy course in the community college and provide that to you the conversation we had at our 3:00am lunch break at work. :rolleyes:
Or any of the other lunch breaks when I overheard him telling other people that is what it was. It was in the southern sky.

I am assuming this means East/southeast?

How absurd is it that a satalite in the SE sky, at 5:00 in the morning, when the sun could easily be reflecting off it, be seen? Gee, how uttery craaazy!

You’re in bed before sunrise? Sounds like you’re calling it an early night to me. :wink:

That reminds me - last night I saw something extremely bright just below Orion. It was there for at least several hours. Any guesses about that one? I’m in the western US.