Informations about the Project
If you even have a small knowledge of night sky and astronomy in general, you have heard for sure about “Iridium Flare” phenomenon. Since 1997 the Iridium SSC company has launched in orbit around the Earth a constellation composed of 66 telecommunications satellites (called “IRIDIUM”) that allowed the realization of what until then had not yet been possible: to reach by phone any corner of the world thanks to the use of a satellite device.
An interesting feature of this fleet of satellites is that, having being equipped with three antennas with large reflecting surfaces, in certain conditions they are able to divert to the Earth the sunlight that invests directly generating an unmistakable bright flare of a few seconds that can be seen by naked eye at night, even in the city with a large light pollution. This phenomenon is called “Iridium Flare”.
After more than 20 years of honourable service, Iridium Communication (born from the ashes of the previous company), has completed the planned divestment of the first-generation fleet in parallel with the launch of new more modern second-generation satellites called “IRIDIUM NEXT”. The put into orbit task of this new fleet has been entrusted to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has already carried out, between 2017 and early 2019, all the 8 commissioned launches, bringing into orbit the new 75 IRIDIUM NEXT satellites. Unlike the first-generation satellites, the IRIDIUM NEXT ones do not generate the “Iridium Flare” phenomenon.
They remain therefore only a few weeks before that this phenomenon, which has accompanied the nights of many worldwide amateur astronomers in the last twenty years, becomes a mere memory. Before that happens, however, we would like to be able to take at least a picture of one “Iridium Flare” for each of the first-generation satellites still in use.
To achieve this mission, we need the collaboration of the greatest number of amateur astronomers possible.