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This occurred last night, August 3, 2023 in Boulder, Colorado between 10:00-10:02pm. I was walking my dog and stopped to admire the stars for a minute. I was facing east and saw a red dot move very rapidly from north to south. It came into and out of visibility very quickly, covering a very short span of the sky. It left no trail or wake whatsoever. It was slower than a shooting star, a bit larger too, but much quicker than an airplane.

I am aware the Perseids, Alpha Capricornids, and Delta Aquariids are active right now and mostly visible in my area, but this looked nothing like them in comparison. Would love some further insight into what this object could have been. Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ What kind of red? If like an airplane, then it was an airplane. S it was quicker, it's nothing natural, I assume, maybe a lower-flying plane or drone than a plane at 40000 feet $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2023 at 6:13
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    $\begingroup$ It was a solid deep red dot, and it did not have any flashing or blinking lights. There was a plane in another portion of the sky and it was quite different and much slower than the object in question. I mean the speed was remarkable, certainly much closer to the speed of a shooting star than any plane or drone I'm aware of. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Aug 5, 2023 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ Meteors run at different speeds. Ball lightening moves slower than a typical meteor. A plane moving from behind one cloud to another cloud can also explain this. As far as answering the question, theres not enough info to go on to make a decent answer. $\endgroup$
    – scm
    Aug 6, 2023 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ Wow. I just saw the very same thing tonight about 5 min ago! It was a bright red dot. Because it lacked a white light, I knew it was different from a normal plane. Then I noticed it was moving exceptionally faster than a plane. I waited for it to pass the window divider but it didn’t. So, I stood up but it was gone! Never seen anything like it. Strange. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2023 at 5:38
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    $\begingroup$ Shaniqua, thanks for sharing! This sounds pretty close to what I saw. It was so fast and was only visible for like one second, I just happened to look up at the right moment. What state did you view this from, and do you recall what direction you were facing? $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Sep 7, 2023 at 17:07

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Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora Colorado has an F-16 wing. Those planes are capable of moving very fast and often fly very low. I've had them "buzz" my car while driving (which I very much enjoyed!), and they really move fast, especially given the low altitude which enhances their apparent velocity.

There have also been a series of drone sightings dating back to 2019 which have made the local news outlets.
Mystery Drones Near Denver

No one has claimed responsibility for the drones, though the military seems to be the prime suspect, and that seems the most likely case to me. I would place my money on one of these two explanations.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your comment, John. I am fairly sure it was not an F-16 or a drone, considering how far away and high in altitude it was. Much closer to the altitude a satellite might be. Although getting "buzzed" by an F-16 would be kind of cool. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Sep 7, 2023 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Well, they were thoughts. I really hope that what you saw was something truly weird, because that would be cool and would expand our understanding. Those things are, obviously, harder to prove. Still, "weird" does happen. $\endgroup$
    – JohnHunt
    Sep 8, 2023 at 3:32
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12/12/23 Concord NC 8:15-20ish

Saw the same reddish dot; no blinking lights; definitely not a commercial plane or anything I have ever seen; but 1 thing in comparison - tic tac - ((wild guess)) (similiar to the US military footage.

Object moved like a satellite, west to east. No speed variation. Larger than a satellite; but my first thought was a drone.

My thoughts are the red could be infrared night vision (wild guess again) ultimately concluding gov’t spy drone.

I captured a crappy 2 second video of the “drone” and posted on youtube.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello NG. I don't think you have an answer to the question here. This is a "me too" post. The video doesn't help much. 99% of the time, UFO reports are unanswerable. $\endgroup$
    – James K
    Dec 13, 2023 at 5:45
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Sorry, my answer may be a little speculative

I think that the red dot you observed was satellite Cosmos 1959 r, it had the apparent magnitude of 5 (maximum is 6th magnitude in Colorado), it might have appeared bright due to an iridium flare or sattelite flare from the your parallax (an Iridium flare is a reflection from a bright object, given the albedo is not 0), it may appear as red due to the refraction from dust grains or may be the light source is slightly red shifted. I think that this satellite was the dot, because it was moving very fast, in fact, in only 10 minutes it crossed the horizon and it was moving from north to south too, just as described in the observation

It is unlikely to be a fixed star other wise it would not move, it could be a shooting star/comet too, because though it may seem as not coming in the average speed category of a shooting star, the range stretches from 11 km/h to 70 km/h, so the rate of parallax change or perceptible displacement varies based on their mass, original velocity, etc, with the red appearance due to the refraction spectrum of neighboring dust grains

Hope it solves your observation!

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  • $\begingroup$ how can it be a comet? Which flares are red? $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2023 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @planetmaker Sorry, I forgot to mention that. I will edit it. Thanks for the suggestion $\endgroup$
    – Arjun
    Sep 4, 2023 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, Arjun! I looked up the orbit and it fits the path described. I'm looking to find out where it was exactly on the night of August 3rd. My only concern is the speed at which it moved, and that it was only visible for a very brief second, and across such a short portion of the sky. In videos they move much slower across a wider portion of the sky. This object moved even quicker than time lapse videos of satellites. Every video I can find shows some amount of streaking as they move across the sky, and this object remained a solid red circle with no trail or streaking. Any thoughts? $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Sep 7, 2023 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Kevin Thanks, I am glad it helped you. I think that the streaks are in the videos, due to the FPS/Frames per second, it is only observed in videos due to the fast speed of the satellite, to the naked eye there are no streaks. $\endgroup$
    – Arjun
    Sep 8, 2023 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ Arjun, yes that could be true. I have one more addition to make, and that is upon looking up the flight path of Cosmos 1959, I noticed that it is moving in the opposite orientation from the object I saw. Cosmos 1959 is moving through the US from south to north, and the object I viewed moved from north to south. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Sep 8, 2023 at 16:16

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