Iridium atmospheric effects seen!

Paul Becker (pebecker@primary.net)
Sun, 12 Apr 1998 22:00:46 -0500

My wife and I were attempting to observe Iridium 59 from our house
tonight (38.4848N, 90.6260W).  Iridflar predicted a -2.0 flare at
21:22:25.9 local time (UTC-5) at 99azm, 51el.  The sky was beautifully
clear.

  A few seconds before the expected flare time, something caught my eye
overhead.  I immediately said, "Look straight up!" to my wife.  

  We both saw an unexpected sight.  Instead of a satellite (we've both
seen hundreds), there were two fuzzy glowing line segments, each about a
little-fingernail-width wide.  They were oriented end to end,
north-south, at least 5 degrees between them.  With an incredible pace,
they swept eastward, converging at about the point where the flare
should have been.  We saw no flare.  The whole thing took about 3 or 4
seconds at the most.  Right at convergence, they were gone.

  Additionally, my wife said she perceived the color to be somewhat
pink, although I saw only white.  I telephoned a friend of mine that is
about 5 miles west of my location, who was nearer to the flare center,
and he reported seeing nothing at all.  No flare, no satellite, no fuzzy
line segments.

  Neither of us have ever seen anything quite like this before.  I am
confident that we saw atmospheric lighting, but why would there be two
"beams", and why would they converge?

  Paul & Darla Becker