I saw a fast-moving item overhead Frankfurt, DE (slightly to the east of Frankfurt) at approx. 20:35 UTC on July 27th, 2018 with a track of something between 010° and 040°.

There were no blinking lights and I didn't see any aircraft on flightradar24 in that timeframe. Also, the ISS orbit is more east-west above Frankfurt, isn't it? It was also faster moving than I remember the ISS moving when I watched it once a few years ago. The color of the light was white-yellow-ish with constant brightness, the same light as stars. It basically looked like a fast moving star.

Any ideas, what it could have been?

Also, more general, what is a good approach to look something like that up?


If it showed a visible trail, it was a meteor.

If it had no trail, it was most likely a satellite or an expended rocket stage; you might have some luck with this satellite observation planning tool on In-The-Sky.org.

ISS looks like the right candidate to me, peaking at 22:35 local time in the northeast. At magnitude -3.1 it should have appeared brighter than Sirius or any other star, and competitive with Venus.

enter image description here

I was about to add that the station's path past any given viewing site will vary greatly from pass to pass, but I see that Frankfurt's latitude is nearly the same as the station's inclination; for it to pass to the north of Frankfurt, it must be traveling very close to W-E, as you said.


It was almost certainly the ISS, as another poster has indicated. A fast-moving star with no blinking lights and no trail would have to be the ISS, or something like it. I can also confirm that the ISS was near the heading at the time and place you mentioned. You can use virtual planetarium software to simulate what the sky is like at a particular point in time (e.g. Stellarium). Also, see https://www.heavens-above.com.

  • $\begingroup$ What does "or something like it." mean? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 28 '18 at 8:24

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