Observations

Lights in the sky

Sydney Observatory often receives reports from the public about mysterious and unexplained sightings in the sky. Many of these are fireballs, which are small rocks from space hitting the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed and burning up brightly as they reach the denser parts of the atmosphere about 30 or 40 km above the ground. Others turn out to be aeroplane vapour trails, ‘dump and burn’ manoeuvres by Air Force aircraft, satellites, weather balloons or even exploding rockets or rockets venting fuel.

We invite you to report your observations here at the bottom of this page. Other people may wish to comment on your observations if they have seen the same object or seen something similar at another time.

When leaving your observations please give as much detail as you can including

– Where you were – reports without a location will not be posted
– The time
– The direction you were looking (north, east, south, west or in-between)
– How high up you were looking (horizon is 0° elevation, half way up is 45° and directly overhead is 90°)
– How long you saw the object
– The direction the object was moving
– Whether it was clear or cloudy
– Whether you could see the Moon or Venus or any other astronomical object
– Describe what you saw

We welcome reports from around the world, however we are unable to respond to international reports.

Thank you

4,684 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • At 6:30 this evening (Brisbane time) I saw two star-light objects just above and to the left of alpha-centaurus in the Eastern sky, about 45 degrees above the horizon. They were about the brightness of Jupiter or Sirius. They were close together ( a quarter of the distance between “the pointers”) and of the same magnitude. My view was obscured by foliage for a couple of seconds. When I saw them again they had faded and in a few seconds they had vanished. There was light cloud around, but this was not the reason for their disappearance.

    The lights did not move and did not appear to twinkle like a star. The moon was gibbous and in the north-west. The direction I was looking was in the general direction of Brisbane airport, but this was not plane-related.

    I have been observing the night skies for 45 years and have never seen anything that I could not explain.

    • Dr Fuller, You may have seen a pair of NOSS (Naval Ocean Surveillance System) ‘spy’ satellites. They travel in pairs, one slightly ahead of the other. Although they are normally too faint to notice from a city they must have (a/some) highly reflective surface panels because sometimes they do just what you saw – they brighten up considerably and noticeably. They move across the sky relatively slowly, too slowly to notice the movement when you are surprised by their bright appearance! I’ve seen this myself and this is the best explanation I have. At the Heavens-Above website you can see them, and their path past alpha Centauri. Be sure to enter your location; select “Daily predictions for brighter satellites”; “set minimum brightness” to 5.0; select the correct date; and you will see NOSS 3-3 (A) and NOSS 3-3 (C); clicking on the “Highest Point – Time” link displays a map of the sky.

  • Kallangur. Qld, 4503, 17.25pm, SE, 50 to 55 degrees, moving south east, cloudy, saw it for about 5 minutes. Seemed to be a relatively stationary object with another object attached below that was swinging around a bit .looked like it was either reflecting light (although it was cloudy), or possibly on fire. Weather station or something else?

    • Kathy, yes, that sounds very much like a weather balloon, possibly launched from Brisbane airport. The wind can change direction a lot as the balloon rises which could explain why it was heading back towards the airport. And the foil radar reflector below the balloon would have been reflecting the light of the setting Sun.

  • Saw a red/orangey light in the sky in south south east direction at around 7:55pm in Hobart. The object looked to be headed north east. Was a red orange light that brightened at the read sort of orange colour and had what looked to be a very small trail but hardly any. It was around 70 degrees from horizon. Stuck around for around 5 seconds and didn’t move across the sky to fast and I was slightly stunned. Haven’t seen anything similar to this before and suspecting it is space junk? Thanks. Let’s hope for nothing extraterrestrial.🧐😨

  • Tuggerah Lakes, NSW. Stepped out to watch the ISS tonight, 8/3/2019. I use the ‘Spot the Station’ predictions for Lake Macquarie sighting. 10deg. SSW at 8.42, bang on time, flew like a beaut, predicted to fade at 39deg. SE after 3 minutes, probably nearer to ESE in actuality. As ISS rose higher it became brighter, which right or wrong I put down to the reflective angle. When it reached 20 or 25 deg elevation and was quite bright, I could clearly see a smaller object on a path directly in front of it, say the width of my thumb at arm’s length ahead. Same speed. The small object faded about 5 deg. before ISS. Can you tell me what the smaller object was please? A quick search tells me naught. Sky was clear with very low white cloud SSE, below where the ISS appeared.

  • At 11:45pm on March 4th 2019 in East Setauket, NY I saw a orange flash fill the sky above an inlet next to a power plant. The light filled up a large cloud and the rest of the sky was mostly clear. The light lasted for about 3 seconds and did not occur again after. This is not the first time I have seen an orange light in Long Island, NY.

  • I was in Truganina 23rd of jan2019
    I saw strobe lights flashing , starting close together at the base In the far north-west, they beamed up and out and some parts were covered from the clouds and other parts were in front of clouds. The lights flashed for a few seconds and seemed to fade in and out of colours of the rainbow and also white. The lights went away and then five minutes or so later appeared again, this time they were just glowing and seemed to be without a base and stayed high but lose to us in the sky .
    Then today the 25th jan 2019 a bright orange flash filled the sky above us in a radious of about 400m or less and flashed like the light of a thunderstorm but without having a centre line. The flash brighted up the sky and also around us end the Went away. Then tonight in the north-west to west direction we thought we saw a massive fire, but it couldn’t have been because the fire would take time to put out, within3 minutes there was no orange light but only red and blue emergency lights from the emergency services attending to whatever it was, the orange light was the same colour as the flashes from earlier in the day that were right above and around us.
    I’m sort of convinced that the lights from the other night are some kind of strobe lights, and the lights from today and tonight, I’m not sure.
    Any one else see this in or around Melbourne Victoria Australia.?

  • Just double checking my star walk app, but is that Corona Borealis in the north-east direction about 30deg. from the horizon 4am?

    Saw it on the 18th Feb, couldnt verify today as it was cloudy.

    It seemed like the brightest object for a sydney sky apart from the full moon.

    • Yanko, Your app should show that Corona Borealis is at about 15-18 degrees above the NE horizon at 04:00am on the 18th Feb. At that time the brightest object after the Moon should be Venus, very low on the eastern horizon. The next brightest object was Jupiter at 30-degrees above due east. Perhaps it is the combination of Venus, Saturn and the stars of Sagittarius that have caught your attention – see our Facebook post of 18 Feb 2019?

  • Between nightfall and around 7.30 pm tonight I witnessed a strange light in the sky. I was sitting on my patio on 68 Stanhill Drive, Chevron Island, Gold Coast Queensland. A friend of mine, Sue Minturn, exclaimed,
    “ What is that light in the sky?”
    She had seen a “ white light” descend rapidly vertically across the face of Sirius. Responding to her, I picked up what appeared to me as a constant orange dot descending as rapidly as a falling star in a perfect vertical trajectory down the evening sky in line with Sirius. The object continued in this way as I managed to capture it on my smartphone. Not long after this we picked up another orange non flashing light dot, running perpendicular to the first in horizontal equivalence to the moon.
    Neither light flashed and the second light seemed much slower than the first. Neither light flashed and neither had any tail of any kind. The date was 18/01/19

  • I saw 3 lines like Aeroplane vapour trail, but its was purple in colour at the time of 5:50 AM . And the lines were not close to each other . The direction was 115° E
    10°12’58″N 76°16’57″E on the date of 3 january 2019. At the place Mala in Thrissur district in Kerala,India.
    There was moon of waning cresent phase.
    And some stars . Moon and one star looks like symbol of muslims some logo ( sorry I don’t know how to explain it)
    And there was some stars and I dont know wether it was a satellite or not .

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