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OK, you guys are funny here, I would love to either see an answer or some really funny responses to my question. But my question if very real.

I'm not sure where to post this, so I'll post it here. Probably will post this on a couple of other boards as well to get an answer. I saw something really peculiar recently near Jupiter....so I wanted to share this.

Some background...

So I just got a nice, new eyepiece for the telescope I received as a gift almost 20 years ago. The telescope had been sitting in the closet for years and years. It's a lower-end Bushnell Voyager telescope (4.5 inch diameter reflector mirror), but for the price, produces excellent images. I think it's somewhere in the $100-$150 range. I didn't realize until recently that the eye pieces that came with the scope were bottom of the line generic eye pieces. The three that came with the scope produced magnifications of 45X, 72X, and 225X. Only the 45X was worth using. The other two were useless....too blurry and dim. The optics are quite cheap and had no coatings. There was also a 3X "Barlow" lens that multiplied those 3 eyepieces to 135X, 216X, and 675X. Again, only the one is worth using.

So I recently got a higher end eye piece from Celestron. This eyepiece alone was probably almost half the cost of the original scope. Man, it made ALL the difference in the world. The view was so much crisper and sharper, producing a variable magnification from 35X to 112X. I also bought a new 2X Barlow that increased the mag from 70X to 224X.

Enough of the background, probably wrote more than my original intention. Anyways, just recently, I got the telescope out at night to see the moon, Jupiter, and the Orion Nebula. The moon was spectacular to see. At 225X magnification, I saw all the craters and mountains, from the largest to the smallest, in the most exquisite detail. It was pretty impressive. It was like a shot of the moon that Apollo took as it approached to land only a few hours away. I also saw the Orion Nebula, an area in the Orion Constellation (near the belt) that's composed of dusts, gases, and material of various color that's an potential area of new star formation as the gases eventually clump together.

Then lastly, I focused the scope on Jupiter. Although not as spectacular as the moon, it was still stunning to see. Jupiter is slightly oval in shape because it spins at a very fast rate. Day is only like 14 hrs long. I saw the orange cloud belts (two main ones) going across laterally. However, I didn't see the big "Red Spot". Must have been on the other side. Surprisingly, I also saw 4 of its largest moons. They appeared as tiny stars. They were all orbiting in the same plane, in a straight line. Pretty cool. Jupiter actually has dozens of moons, but most are not visible because they are fairly small.

OK, so here is the point of my post. While viewing Jupiter, I kept seeing bright, quick flashes of light all around Jupiter. They would randomly flash. They lasted no more than maybe 1/4th of a second. And its brightness was roughly on par with the 4 moons I saw, sort of like dim stars. They would appear (no more than one flash at a time) all around Jupiter, but near it. For example, it would flash maybe twice quickly in 1 second on top of Jupiter, and then 3 seconds later, flash 3 times over 5 seconds from the bottom then to the right of Jupiter. It was all sorts of combinations. Then maybe nothing would happen for 10 seconds, then it starts up again.

This wasn't some one-off event. I saw this for a good 20-30 minutes. And I did NOT see this when I had the scope pointed to the moon or the Orion Constellation. There was something unique in the atmosphere or space in the direction of Jupiter.

So here it is. What in the hec did I see? Was it something that was actually occurring near Jupiter? If so, it must have been something massive to be able to see on a telescope. Jupiter is roughly 500 million miles away from Earth. Was it something my scope was picking up from the Earth's atmosphere? For example, maybe orbital debris, space junk, or satellites in orbit? Or maybe it was something no more than a few hundred yards away over on the other side of our neighborhood...maybe fireflies (lightning bugs)? Was it some sort of weird lightning? However, the sky was completely clear that night...absolutely not a cloud in the sky. And these were "point" flashes, not streaks as you would see with lightning.

Here are my thoughts on some of the possibilities:


- Satellites? I've seen satellites go across the sky before. They appear as a star, and slowly move across the sky in a steady, smooth trajectory. And their light is usually constant (ie, don't flash off and on), as they reflect the light from the sun. What I saw were random flashes of light that jumped all around various sides of Jupiter but in the same general area. Satellites aren't likely the cause.

- Lightning? Again, it was a perfectly clear night. No cloud in sight. And again, point flashes, not long thin streaks of light as in lightning. Maybe they were a specialized form of lightning not often seen?

- Space junk or debris? Again, they flashed off and on randomly, space junk would typically be a constant source of light. I guess it's possible that they were burning up in the atmosphere in several pieces? But they flashes gave no sense of motion and were lit in very quick flashes. Burning space debris should last more than a split second and show some motion. And this lasted for at least 20-30 minutes over the same area. Again, not likely.

- Fireflies? Maybe fireflies just a few hundred of yards away that just happened to be caught in the view in the direction of Jupiter? I have never seen fireflies in my neighborhood for decades. And the ones that I have seen do intermittently flash their light. But from my memory, they would sustain their light for a good 3-5 seconds, before turning off - and the intensity of their light would slowly wax and wane. What I see near Jupiter were very fast flashes, like strobe lights.

- Asteroids or comets hitting the Jupiter atmosphere and burning up? Maybe some sort of a meteor shower? This is a very possible scenario. I looked it up on the internet, but the articles show some examples...but the light emitted were relatively long-lived....at the very least, several seconds. And again, these quick flashes that I saw continually endured off and on for a solid 20-30 minutes.

- UFO's? Begin your jokes now...:-)

So as far as I can tell, none of these possibilities I listed seem likely based on the characteristics of what I observed.

Does anyone have any other remotely plausible explanation? Again, quick, bright flashes randomly all around Jupiter. Very strange.
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