Published: 4:44 PM 10/20/2014
He was unsure what it could be, so immediately posted it...
A close encounter in the city's skies?
By Plymouth Herald - By SARAH WADDINGTON, Herald Reporter
AN UNFAMILIAR flare of light has been captured by a Plymouth photographer, prompting questions as to its origin.
Steve Hayward, who was taking a long-exposure shot of the International Space Station, noticed the fleck of light on the bottom of the photo.
He was unsure what it could be, so immediately posted it on Plymouth Astronomical Society's Facebook page.
David Wilton, chair of the astronomical society, said: "There is a big meteor shower that peaks next Tuesday, so possibly it could be one of these. These are caused by the Earth passing though the trail of the famous Halley's Comet.
"Or it could be a flare from a satellite, probably one of the Iridium satellites which are communications satellites.
"These particular satellites have reflective antennas with a shape that can focus sunlight on to the Earth's surface and cause a very bright flare."
Mr Hayward, an astro photographer, strapped his camera to the end of his telescope to capture the shot. He said: "I searched back and found a picture from 2011 by somebody which is almost identical to mine, so it doesn't look like this is a rare occurrence."
Author of UFO Investigations Manual, Nigel Watson, said: "You can brand it as a UFO because it is an unidentified object but it is difficult to pin down any evidence as there are so many explanations for even just a light in the sky.
"Because of the vast size of the universe there has to be life out there.
"I think it's wishful thinking, but to think it's a UFO flashing their lights at you rather than a meteor is much more interesting."
But Mr Wilton argued that the speck of light was anything other than a UFO. "There's no way it's a UFO; I'm afraid astronomers aren't really into UFOs," he said.
"It does capture the imagination a bit but I'm afraid we're a scientific society."
He added: "The Plymouth Astronomical Society will be out on Tuesday evening - weather permitting - hoping to see some of the meteors."