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, as on 19 February 2007, exploding rockets.

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

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4,469 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • Yesterday evening before nightfall I sited a huge bright fireball as i looked south to the city from Centennial Park Sydney (31/3/07)- before it seemed to explode and at light speed headed at a right hand downwards trajectory leaving a long light tail behind it. There were no other stars or planets visible at the time. This fireball was golden and far larger or closer then a star would appear. Approx. one hour later- after telling a friend of this- again we were looking at the sky in a similar position- this exact same thing happened again!

  • At about 18:10 pm on the evening of Saturday 31st March 2007 whist driving from Wollongong to the Southern Highlands I saw a green/blue fireball.

    At this time I was driving south on the freeway heading towards Pheasant’s Nest after turning off the Picton road and I was about halfway between the two.

    The sky was clear and it was just before dark.

    I saw only one star off to my right at about 45 degrees but did not see the moon.

    I first noticed the fireball to the south as it was slightly to my left and directly ahead.

    The fireball was at about 45degrees above the horizon – it was travelling from left to right and downwards at about 60 degrees.

    The fireball was in view for about 2 seconds.

    I lost sight of the fireball beyond the hilly scub country whilst negotiatiating a shallow left bend on the road.

    The fireball appeared to be the size of a pea from my position but was some distance ahead as it seemed further than the line of traffic.

    The colour of the fireball was green/blue and similar to the colour of a flame given off by burning copper.

  • My husband and I also saw that “large fireball with a long brilliant white tail” in the sky as we were driving in Hornsby, Sydney, about 6.10pm last night (31 March 2007). The thing was heading west at a great speed – but it only last for about 3 or 4 seconds in the sky.

  • Sounds like I saw the same thing as the other posters! I was heading south down Alexander St in Crows Nest not too long after 6pm when I saw the fireball. It was easily the brightest thing in the sky and had a very distinct tail. I probably only saw it for about one second, heading diagonally downwards in a westerly direction, before it disappeared behind a building. Probably the most spectacular shooting star I’ve ever seen.

  • Travelling south from Wollongong across Windang bridge (6:15pm), and to my left, also saw this big bright light shoot across the sky (incredibly fast), heading south. Exactly the same as the other descriptions, but I also saw it split in two momentarily (a fraction of a second before the light disappeared)….. certainly no astronomy expert, but the size and intensity of the light, and seeing it break up made me think it was something entering the atmosphere.
    Pretty cool though. And good to find out I wasn’t imagining it 😉

  • On my way back from Sydney around Ulladulla at 6:15pm (today 31/3/7), it was only just getting evening, the auto switch on the car switched on the lights, the sky was still a light blue and visability was good and clear. From north to south there was the most amazing shooting star. It shot across the sky with a blue/green/white colour with a tail behind. It travelled in a straight line and it seemed to disintegrated somewhere further south. The speed of it must have been amazing fast, many times the speed of a jet plane. The whole spectacle lasted only about 4 sec. The blue/white light was extremly bright. Much much brighter than any plane during landing. Perhaps it wasn’t a shooting star but an astroid or perhaps a bit of space junk entering the atmosphere.

  • Thanks again Nick.

    That’s a great site. Once again as Astronomy is not my forte, the object i saw tonight was travelling very fast. The Heavens above site says that the ISS would be visible for some 5 minutes as it passes by (curiously, the times are very close). When one sees the ISS, does it generally zoom by at great speed, appear quite large and round and give off a green flame? Could two different objects have shared the same part of the sky?

    Paul

  • This evening Satuday 31st at around 6 pm, just as it was geting dusky we witnessed a light crashing down over southern Sydney SSE.
    It looked like a shooting star except it had a bright white flashing light in the centre.
    It lasted for about 3 seconds.
    I was baffled and waited for smoke or signs of a crash.
    I hadn’t had anything to drink.

  • Paul

    The sonic boom is likely to have been from something different. For the ISS check the Heavens-Above website.

  • Thanks Nick,

    I’m just a simple man so perhaps you could explain how it might be able to create a sonic boom?

    Also would the ISS be visible again tomorrow at approximately the same time and position ? This would be good to check and confirm if it was the same as what i witnessed tonight?

    Thanks again,

    Paul

  • Sue & Paul – you were most likely looking at the International Space Station which was passing low in the south at 6:17 pm

    Nick

  • 31st March approx.6.15pm noticed a very bright long white and green light low in the southern sky heading south. Saw it briefly through the trees. We are 15 KM south of Bermagui far south coast NSW Approx one minute later the windows in the house rattled. Possibly due to a sonic boom.
    Rang the local airport and they also heard a sonic boom.

  • 31st of March, approximately 6:17 pm whilst driving south on the Hume Highway, south of Narellan and north of Picton, i saw to my left a large green fireball with a long brilliant white tail head due south. (Easily twice and perhaps three times the size of venus) The fireball was observable for 3-4 seconds and looked to be quite low (when compared to a regular smaller white shooting star). I actually expected to drive further and see a fire somewhere!

    Thanks

  • Well observed Sara. I also saw what you saw last night. At 6:43 pm there was an Iridium flare. This takes place when the shiny surface of one of the Iridium satellites is angled just in the right position to reflect sunlight for a few seconds in our direction. The satellite was Iridium 13 and was about 940 km away from Sydney. Last night’s flare was the longest that I have seen as normally they only last a couple of seconds.

  • Last night, sitting on the hill between Bondi and Tamarama at around 7pm with my boyfriend, watching all the airplanes coming and going and discussing how much activity there was in our skies, something above us caught my eye, I looked up and shouted what the hell is that?! We watched what looked like a huge shooting star, flying across the sky, in an arc going north to south. It gradually disappeared after about 5/6 seconds. It could not have been a shooting star as it seemed to have a point and alot of drag. It had quite a long tail and was extremely white/bright. At 7pm the sky was not completely dark so whatever it was must have been big and fairly close to us. I’ve never seen anything like it. We thought it looked like a rocket??

  • Friday night (23rd Mar) at approximately 20:55 i was staring at the sky through an open window as i was visiting the toilet. Staring up at an angle of about 45-50 degrees I noticed a bright fireball appear suddenly. It was close enough that i could actually see the flickering of the flames and it glowed quite brightly in the sky. The fireball was moving in a slow descent in a westerly direction. I live in geelong, Vic and I was looking almost directly north when i saw it. It only appeared for 10 seconds or so and vanished as quickly as it had came. I have never seen anything like it before. My first thought was that a passenger airplane had erupted into flames, but i realised it was moving far too quickly to be any sort of commercial aircraft. I also have a very wicked imagination 😉 If anyone else saw this in the geelong region i would be happy to hear from you.

  • Yes i seen it…On Wednesday 21st March I was in Cranbourne East, walking at around 8:40pm with a friend as I seen what I thought was a shooting star but it was much to large & orange.
    We were travelling east & the streak of bright orange was travelling from north west to south east, then it disappeard as we had full vision of the sky, it was quite low & travelled slower compared to a shooting star. We visioned this for around 5 sec’s also. It was a very clear night all stars were out. We wathced in shock as we debated whether this was a meteor or fireball. I have been waiting for a report on the news but have heard nothing. We have discussed that others surely have sighted this as my husband does not believe us until he hears a report on the news himself. We were disappointed that we did not have our camera/video phone with us…Pretty exciting

  • On Wednesday 21st March I was in West Heidelberg, Victoria sitting outside, facing north when the brightest meteor?? I’ve seen streaked almost horizontally across the sky from the west to the east, about 30 degrees above the horizon. The color was mainly orange, with a slight tail and it lasted about 5 seconds then seem to disappear or it was below my view, in suburbia. It was fantastic and I just wanted to know what it was exactly but haven’t heard anything about it. Did anyone else see it? Cheers.

  • 10/3/07 We were on the forshore at St. Leonard and saw the meteor as well. It was really quite large and bright.. It certainly made our night

  • On march 11th 2007 at about 8:00 pm eastern North American time my wife and I spotted a meteor from north to south west. It was very large and burning very bright from white to blue. It lasted about 3 seconds and halfway across seemed to burst apart. We were traveling west and it seemed very close. We are west of Toronto, Canada.

  • Nikki

    The last quarter Moon with the bright planet Jupiter below would have been a spectacular sight at 3 am this morning. You could have been looking at Jupiter. Alternatively, it may have been the bright reddish star Arcturus was between north and north-east.

    Nick

  • This morning at 3am I saw something that looked like a star exploding, it was a bright white with flashes of blue, green, red & it seemed to be moving & was visible for 3 hours, I live at Rosebank nthrn NSW & I was looking in a nrth easterly direction, do you know what it was?
    thanks, niki

  • On Wednesday night, the 21st Feb 2007 sometime between 8pm and 11pm I witnessed a huge white ball of light to the east from where I was standing at Thornleigh. It appeared to be tear drop shaped indicating maybe a slight tail from the speed.The size of the light was at least 10 times the size of Venus as seen when it is at its biggest.From my perspective it seemed to be moving in an arc from higher up from the south towards the north-east where it disappeared down below the trees as far as I could see. It was very low and appeared to be from where I was standing in the area of sky where you would normally see planes.
    My first reaction was a plane had exploded, but upon watching this realised it could not have been an explosion as it was not dropping from sky but rather travelling in a downward arc and the colour of the light was bright white not the yellow or red which you would expect from an explosion.
    As it went below the treeline I was waiting for some kind of explosion but nothing was heard.If it continued in this downward arc after descening below the treeline I would put the arrival point in the Ku-ring-gai National Park.

  • Last night (Wed. 23rd Feb. from West Newtown/Stanmore area ) my son and I were looking up about 35degrees towards East.South-east sky (towards Randwick) at approximately 9.30 – 9.45pm and we both witnessed a bright trail like a fireball with a green tinge streak down until the flare disappeared behind rooftops. This of course suggests it could have continued to earth but we can’t confirm. Any other witnesses please?

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