This morning at 6:12 am looking south from Georgetown, Texas, there was a brief very bright stationary object what appeared to be a star that once I saw it within the next few seconds quickly vanished. Did not appear to be other than a stationary object. What was it?

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    $\begingroup$ Should have said it was just below the right leg of Orion. $\endgroup$ – Jerry Aug 19 '18 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ I'd add this only as a comment, not an answer. Sure is that this wasn't an Iridium flare. I've checked them for the given location and time, there were none of them. Nevertheless, other satellites can easily give very short and bright flashes, too. $\endgroup$ – SergiusPro Aug 19 '18 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Chappo The community tends to dislike unknown object identification posts. I my opinion, it may be correct in many cases, but not always. As a compromise, I suggested to create a single step-by-step tutorial for such identification requests (maybe as a CW post), and then close such posts as its dupe. This is what I tried to do also now, however I am in general for the lenient reviews and rare question closures. I retracted my close vote now and deleted my comment. $\endgroup$ – peterh Aug 30 '18 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ See astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/23656/… $\endgroup$ – ProfRob Aug 31 '18 at 16:32

Iridium satellites are known for predictable flare events but are gradually being de-orbited and replaced. In particular, Iridium 66 would have flared at 6:04 several degrees east of Orion, but its orbit has almost certainly changed since its de-orbiting process started on August 2. Other Iridium satellites have taken 3 to 5 weeks to finish this process.

Other satellites can flare too if a shiny surface catches the Sun just right. Heavens-Above shows two satellites passing south of Orion at 6:12 on the morning of August 19: USA 215, an American spy satellite; and Cosmos 2084, a failed Russian early warning satellite.

Another possibility is a head-on sporadic meteor.

Update: Iridium 66 finished de-orbiting on August 23.


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