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Mystery objects seen flying across solar eclipse by YouTuber leave astronomers perplexed

The web is debating whether these mystery objects are satellites, meteors, or simply bugs.

Mystery objects seen flying across solar eclipse by YouTuber leave astronomers perplexed
Cover Image Source: The Moon crosses in front of the Sun during a total solar eclipse at Lake Monroe on April 08, 2024 in Indiana, United States. (Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images)

On April 8, the Moon’s shadow swept across the United States, completely blocking out the Sun. Millions of people witnessed this breathtaking total solar eclipse. What made it even more special was that it was the longest totality on land in over a decade, offering eclipse chasers a rare chance to capture the phenomenon. Among them was YouTuber and aerospace engineer Destin Sandlin, who not only beautifully captured the eclipse but also discovered mysterious objects flying across his footage. 

Image Source: The total solar eclipse is seen before the game between the Cleveland Guardians and the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field on April 08, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Image Source: The total solar eclipse is seen before the game between the Cleveland Guardians and the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field on April 08, 2024, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Sandlin (@smartereveryday) uploaded his eclipse footage on YouTube with the caption, “I accidentally photographed something unknown during the eclipse.” In just two weeks, his video amassed over 3 million views.  "When I started looking at this footage, I wanted to see C2 (beginning of the eclipse) and C3 (the end of it), Baily's beads, around the edges of the mountains of the Moon, right?” Sandlin explained. Baily’s Beads are the final glimpse of the Sun before it’s completely shadowed by the Moon. 



 

Sandlin continued, "So, I started looking at it, and then I realized there is something flying across the sky, like right at C3. It could be a bug, it could be a plane, or it could be a satellite." He asked the viewers whether the mysterious object was a satellite or just a flying bug.

In addition to the initial object, Sandlin found another anomaly in the footage that appeared for a split second. He showed this segment in his video, revealing what looked like a glowing white plasma spreading across the edge of the solar disk and crossing the Moon's face. While Sandlin hypothesizes these objects are satellites, some astronomers remain skeptical. 

Image Source: he Moon crosses in front of the Sun during a total solar eclipse at Lake Monroe on April 08, 2024 in Indiana, United States. (Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images)
Image Source: The moon crosses in front of the Sun during a total solar eclipse at Lake Monroe on April 08, 2024, in Indiana, United States. (Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images)

Sandlin consulted astronomer Jonathan McDowell, showing him the footage. McDowell asked, “Is this in real-time?” When Sandlin confirmed, McDowell responded, “I think it’s a bug.” He explained that the object was "going too fast" to be a satellite, but acknowledged that the possibility couldn't be entirely ruled out. 

Image Source: The
Image Source: The "diamond ring" effect is seen during a total solar eclipse on April 08, 2024, in Lake Carmi, Vermont. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

“The Sun is about half a degree across and it took about half a second,” Jonathan pondered, “Let’s suppose that this is a few hundred kilometers away. Let’s say 500 kilometres away. Divide 500 by 60. That’s about eight kilometers a second. This is not inconsistent with the speed of the satellite going overhead.” He said there’s always a dim possibility that the object could be a satellite, “It doesn’t mean it was sure a satellite, but it’s intriguing,” he reflected.

Sandlin also shared the footage with YouTuber Jeff Geerling, who had also captured the mysterious object during the eclipse. The two noted they were 130 meters apart while recording. Geerling viewed the video and believed it was a satellite whizzing past the solar disk. 

However, an expert thought just the opposite. "I have strong doubts these are satellites," Dr Marco Langbroek, lecturer in Optical Space Situational Awareness at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, commented on Sandlin’s footage on X. "At the eclipsed Sun position, the phase angle of satellites is 180 degrees - i.e. you are looking at their ‘dark sides’, they are (like the Moon in front of the Sun!) not illuminated and hence, should not be visible."



 

Other people said that it could be things like meteors and Earthshine. But Marco said it couldn’t be Earthshine, otherwise similar objects would be visible in late twilight when satellites enter Earth’s shadow. “I doubt that is strong enough - visibility within earth shadow has been reported for the ISS and might be due to earthshine, but is very faint,” he wrote.

Image Source:  An airplane contrail is lit by the setting sun as a waxing crescent moon illuminated with earthshine. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)
Image Source: An airplane contrail is lit by the setting sun as a waxing crescent moon illuminated with earthshine. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Eclipses are strange phenomena. While astronomers are still trying to figure out what exactly these mysterious objects are, if they turn out to be satellites, the event would be noted as even stranger.



 

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