One of the most fascinating and just plain fun features in TheSkyX is the ability to predict, and watch simulated Iridium flares. Sure there are sites that can predict flares, but TheSkyX lets you actually see what the flare will look like from your back yard. Many flares are naked eye, so all you have to do it take a few minutes to step outside and look in the right direction. No equipment is required.
And you never know what other goodies you'll see while observing. Last night I was out with my family to watch a "so so" flare of Iridium 61, and happened to call my sister (a neighbor) to watch it too. Although we (my wife and I and my three young kids) missed the flare, my sister and her son saw it, and they also got to see (by pure chance) a spectacular view of the International Space Station pass near the waxing moon a few minutes before. Way cool! (And educational, too.)
If you're interested and own TheSkyX, watch the Iridium Flare Tutorial (Flash required) on how to use it to predict and simulate Iridium flares. For the next "bright flare", have your kids and neighbors participate in a fun, spontaneous astronomical observing event.
10-10-2008 9:53 AM
Daniel R. Bisque