In the animation above, one can see a particularly strange looking phenomenon that, when observed as it passes over in the night sky, can appear quite otherworldly. Watch the animation closely… have you ever witnessed this before? If so, what is it?

I was reminded of this upon recalling a conversation I had with a friend years ago who, during a nighttime “UFO watch”, had claimed that he and several in his company had been “flashed” by a UFO as it passed directly overhead. The object, my friend told me, had first appeared to be a satellite, moving faintly along above them and following a path that moved directly across the field where he and his companions were participating in the UFO watch. “Suddenly,” he told me, still very excited, “one of my friends flashed a laser pointer at the object, as if to signal to it. We couldn’t believe what happened next… the thing signaled back!”

As it turns out, though I was several miles away, on the very same evening (and at roughly the same time), I too happened to be peering skyward as this incredible illumination revealed itself from within the heavens… but I had a decidedly different take on what we’d seen. While UFO “night watchers” the likes of Ed Grimsley, Stephen Greer and others might have us believe we were seeing an extraterrestrial fly-by, it does indeed seem that in this case I was spot on about what was seen… can you guess what sort of conventional object flies through space, and flashes back at Earth as it does so?

Experienced skywatchers no doubt already know what my friends and I managed to witness in the sky, even though we were miles apart: it was a common satellite flare, sometimes also called an Iridium flare because of the Iridium communications satellites that can make them, due to odd arrangement of doorway-sized polished antennas mounted onto their main buses.

When conditions are right, one of the satellite’s antennas can reflect sunlight directly back in the direction of Earth, which appears not only in the sky, but at times also as a “predictable and quickly moving illuminated spot on the surface below.”

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Author: Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, and podcaster. His interests include areas of history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and the study of anomalous phenomena in nature. He can be reached at

2 Replies to “Signals From Heaven: The Enigmatic Iridium Flare Phenomenon

  1. Directing a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal offence

    “U.S.C. TITLE 18, CHAPTER 2

    Sec. 39A. Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft
    (a) OFFENSE — Whoever knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”

    for more details see:

    Don’t do it

  2. Thanks for this Jim, since folks attending skywatches, whether for stargazing or UFO spotting, often employ laser pointers, and should be aware of safety measures and the legalities involved.

    In the instance described above, the gentleman I had spoken to had witnessed people using what was probably a popular “star-pointing” laser of this sort, directed at what they believed at the time to be a UFO. It was, in reality, a satellite, and thus in this instance, not an aircraft.

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