Mysterious sighting explained

Sydney Observatory has received a number of reports of a strange glow in the sky, about the size of the full moon, seen on the early morning of Tuesday 20 February 2007. Two commercial airline pilots reported the sighting, one flying over Indonesia, the other over Malaysia. Another sighting was from the ground in Velencia NSW. The time was reported as around 4:10 am Eastern Australian summer time and it was seen for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

We were mystified by the sightings, but one of the airline pilots kindly rang back to say that Gordon Garradd on his website has images and the explanation that it was from the explosion of a Breeze-M rocket body.

The Breeze-M rocket is used as the upper stage of the Russian Proton heavy-lift rocket. The Proton is launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

Did anyone else see it?

12 responses to “Mysterious sighting explained

  • Could you tell me if anyone else saw what my cousin and I saw in the sky over Cairns last nite, Thursday 22nd January 2009?

    At 6.30pm We were looking west at what seemed to be a very very bright star or perhaps a planet. It was so bright and I had never seen a star or planet this bright in the skies of Cairns before.

    It didnt move position but it seemed to get brighter and brither every 5 minutes. It also gave a beam of light that rotated around the light and illuminated clouds around it.

    We watched it till 8pm. Then we had to go to the shops. We had gone for less than an hour and when we returned, the light we had been watching had vanished. We dont know what happened.

    My cousin does recall seeing the same bright light in the sky the previous nite (Wed 21st Jan 2009) at about 10pm and it was getting brighter and also changing tho very dull. She said she watched it appear lower than the position we saw it in.

    Has anyone else reported seeming something similar to this? Are thee any explainations?

    • Hello Shorn. You were looking at the planet Venus which is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon. It is currently visible in the western sky each evening and you should be able to see soon after sunset. Like every object in the sky it appears sowly to move acrodss the sky from east to west. It sets at the moment at about 9:30 pm eastern standard time as seen from Cairns. If you no could not see it after returning from the shops it it had either set or at least moved low in the sky.

  • hi, there has been sightings of an orange light and spaceship like shape in the sky seen in townsville,cairns and brisbane Queensland that i have herd of and seen in cairns, have any1 seen any pics or herd or them?? does anyone know what it was?

  • Did anyone see the extremily bright object in the western sky about 9.30pm (Tuesday 22nd May)? I would describe it as ‘comet’ looking; impressive blue, and a white tail. It was visible for atleast 3sec as it headed west and then disintegrated. It was magnificant and aligned to the closure of a spiritual healing session just conducted. Anyone?


  • Hi

    I watched it from Urana (about halfway between Wagga and Deniliquin) for about half an hour just after 4 am. It started out as a misty circle roughly the same brightness as the Milky Way and filled about three quarters of the field of view of my Celestron Explorascope 100. Over a few minutes this expanded to fill roughly the whole field while drifting in a northerly direction. A bright central point was visible the whole time.



  • Yes I was up & saw a gaseous circular glow while walking out to the car at around 4:15am ?? & thought it was a cloud at first… then looked around & the sky was perfectly clear & also.. it was perfectly circular.
    I thought maybe a distant star or something had exploded ???
    ….Then I forgot about it for nearly a week, & only tonight I remembered & decided to see if I could find out something about it.. & found this site..
    Thanks. Paul. ( Bendigo Victoria )

  • I saw a bright object on the same evening with an arcing trail falling from south to north. I was driving in my car between Gresford NSW and East Gresford NSW (Hunter Valley) heading east when I saw this bright object. It was around 9.30pm when I saw this object which reminded me of one I saw on television of a large meteorite entering the earth’s atmosphere and coming to land somewhere in South America (Brazil or Argentina?) some years ago. I reckon the object I saw looked like a galactic tadpole!

  • I’m not sure if it is related, but, last night (Wed 21 Feb 07) at about 9.35pm, I saw an object in the eastern sky. As viewed from the east coast, of the lower Central Coast, it was travelling rapidly from south to north. I would describe it as a curved ice cream cone shape, very very large, and glowed orange and red with impressive bright white tail. Not sure how to describe the size – suffice to say it was about 75mm – 100mm long and 20-25mm round at the front(had it been a photo. It travelled from high to low in an arc and was visible for about 1.5 maybe 2.5sec???

    I have seen shooting stars, satellites, the shuttle and a comet before, but never anything like this. I was surprised not to hear anything on the news.

    Any ideas?

    (I claim naming rights!)


  • Thank you Joy & Geoff for your reports. The explanation is now clearer. The site http:SpaceWeather.com reports:

    “One year ago, the Briz-M sat atop a Russian Proton rocket that left Earth on Feb. 28, 2006, carrying an Arabsat-4A communications satellite. Shortly after launch, the rocket malfunctioned, leaving the satellite in the wrong orbit and the Briz-M looping around Earth partially-filled with fuel. On Feb. 19, 2007, for reasons unknown, the fuel tanks ruptured over Australia.”

    More details and pictures and a movie on the SpaceWeather site. I am impressed how well the sky was being observed at 4 am in the morning!


  • Dear nick ,I had a sighting of a bright gaseous object with a bright central core at 4am Tuesday morning feb2007 north of Carina Neb. it was traveling north north east over a 45 minut period its brightness decreased as its size increased from about1 degree to 7 degrees .It passed through corvus at 420 am almost filling the little constellation and moved on to the north east expanding to 7degreesand disipating at 445am eastern daylight time
    It was brilliant yet rather eerie at the same time! I have been at a loss as to what it could have been. Thank you for solving this mystery for me.

  • Just had a ph/call from a fellow in Lake Cathie, which is about 15 mins drive sth of Pt Macq who saw this unusual sight on Tues at 4.10 AM.
    His name is Dean ? & he said it was in the sky for 20mins starting out at approx 5cent coin size, gaining to about the size of a basketball over time. He was concerned that it was some space junk that might be falling somewhere & injuring people. I advised him to contact you to report it himself, but he doesn’t have access to a computer.
    Wish I had seen it !!

    clear skies 🙂
    Joy Woods

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