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

4,641 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • Monday 16th January at 22.15 in Perth Australia. The sky was clear.
    Saw flash of white light at 80 deg looking East. Saw 5 more flashes about 20 to 40 seconds apart the last being at about 50 deg east . The second to last flash was longest and had an almost sweeping effect.
    Seemed way too high to be an aircraft plus the light was only ever white.
    I hope others saw it too and someone knows what it was.
    Thanks

      • Was in melbourne looking west; started from low in horizon and rose upwards in random motion. White light inconsistantly blinking and after a few movementa didnt blink again and was lost.

    • we saw it aswell, and its how we found your post through google search. It happened again tonight, slightly more east than the previous night. Certainly not a plane…and iv never seen “space junk” flash a rhythm of signals at such brightness.

      • John, What is your location? How bright would you estimate the flashes were? Compare their brightness to nearby stars and the planet Venus (visible in the western sky after sunset). Does any object noted at Heavens-Above match your observations?

    • 1st Feb 2017, Lights in Perth Skies: Saw the same lights tonight from Perth Northern suburbs at approximately 9:30pm , they were much brighter than any star or satellite that I have observed. Saw the same lights on 31st December at 11:30pm, at first I thought it to be an aircraft, but the height at which they appeared seemed to be to high. There were approximately 10 flashes of white light I counted just like an aircraft navigational beacon evenly pulsed, then it stopped momentarily before it lit up and took off in a Westley direction. There appears to be some strange phenomenon given the recent sightings. I have been photographing the Perth skies over the past few nights and have photos where a light will appear in one photo and then disappear and in a photo or two later appear again from an entirely different position.

  • It was wed 11th of Jan 17..in Peterborough uk.
    It was approx 17.00..i saw 2red lights not flashing in the East heading East I Think? About 45deg above horizon..they were vertical one above the other moving at same speed but looked to be a very long way apart! There didn’t seem to be anything in between the lights ,moving at speed very high up and a good distance away..they lasted about 10 seconds then vanished!? Any ideas?

  • I am in India, Bangalore(south India).
    It was 6pm.
    It was about 45degrees.
    I spotted the moon, which was not full, in the north western sky.
    Not very far from the moon( to the naked eye) a rectangular object as bright as the moon was moving away from the moon from west to east.
    The sky was clear.
    I could not see any other astronomical object close by- like Venus which I see every evening.
    The object was bright, milky white, the brightness did not change, it was moving very fast, lost sight of it within fifteen seconds.

  • Around 9:00pm in Sihanoukvilla, Cambodia. Between 10-20 orange orbs moving through the sky in total. All moving at different speeds and in different directions but mainly to the left and upwards through the sky. Most I saw at any one time was 3. They started off bright and then faded into nothing as they moved further away. I noticed one of the orbs as it was descending split into two before disappearing behind a rooftop.

    I managed to get some video (about 5 mins) but my phone ran dead.

    • 7Miles east of Albany, GA. Glowing “orbs” spotted on multiple occasions to my WSW. Often two lights that appear seemingly from nowhere, often brighter than any star or astronomical body, and remains visible for several minutes at a time, only becoming invisible when they go past the horizon 20degrees (we have almost no treesin property) or when they go behind the trees across the road).

      These lights move in every direction. At varying speeds and heights but are almost ALWAYS centralized @ 40 to 70° west to south west. They pulsate (rarely bling or flash) seem to respond to my light flashes (either approach close by and dim out or fly off at such a rate of speed they almost appear to dissapear into thin air) but they almost always come back to sweep the same patch of sky. After a while, they approach the horizon where they remain centralized and mmostlyappearingly stationary until they are out of view. The further away they are, the harder it becomes to see that they are moving.. At which time they appear to move only side to side. The average total time from the first across noticeable sighting to the last, is about 40 minutes . there have been times that they are noticeable for ten minutes and the longest lasting 71min. I often sit out all night to watch these things. I wonder the relation they may have with the logistics base here. Whatever they are, they dont seem to much care about being noticed. I also have seen red lights that appear in 3s and split each into 3s then dissapear, reappear and take off at ehat would have to be tens of thousands of mph in random directions. This has been going on since middle january and i have had a few people agree with me that something is definitely going on. But only after i point this out to them. I believe my curiosity and wide view of open skies plays a huge role in this.

      If anyone else in this area has any accounts of similar anomalies or information, further questions, you can send me a text @ 2028464110. TextNow number

  • We walked out through the garage and my 23 year old daughter pointed up and said look mom, I asked; why is the moon so red, she said the moon is behind you. I asked then what the heck is that? It was facing SW and the full moon was East. We saw it on Jan 11 2017 at around 7:50 pm. It started moving very slow towards west then it got faster and faster before it disappeared. This was in Raeford NC.
    (I posted this on my facebook same night)
    My kids and I just witnessed something weird in the sky. Has anyone else seen it? Red circular shaped. It was sitting for about a minute then moved really fast and disappeared. It was bright red! Very surprising! Was it a planet?

  • Longview, Texas 1/9/17 approximately 9pm looking 90° on clear night sky, I saw many objects that looked like small stars only they didn’t glitter. They moved north to south and seemed to be very high altitude. I saw one from the ground about a foot apart there were three more not quite a wing formation but close. Then I noticed a few small clouds and more lights flying that same path followed. There was a gap between the first few that I saw and these. The longer I watched it, i began to see these lights spread out east to west approximately three to five foot span judging from the ground, these also flying south. I lost count but I know I saw at least thirty of these. All were traveling at a extremely fast pace. The whole sighting lasted several minutes. I can only assumed they were more than 30,000 feet high

    • R.E. and everyone else: measurements like “about a foot apart” and “three to five foot span” are useless for describing star-like points of light in the sky. Much better to use angular measurements. You can use your fingers & hand at arm’s length for a comparison – this guide explains how. It is also impossible to accurately estimate how high the lights are without some sort of reference.

  • Lobethal, SA, 11:20pm 10th of January 2017
    Saw a bright light flash in the sky, then flashed again a few cm away, then again about few more times but continues to flash in a different spot, then just stopped flashing

  • 7th January 7.15 pm 2017, Nairobi, Kenya. Bright white light moving West to East across the sky, looked to be jet height in the sky. Took 30-45 seconds to go all the way West to East and there was no noise. Disappeared into eastern sky. Any ideas?

  • Last night between the hours of 10.00pm and 11.00pm we noticed what appeared to be a stationary light in the sky in Wodonga VIC. The light most likely continued after that time but I was asleep (LOL).
    It was in the North sky, almost due north and about 30 degrees above the horizon. At first we thought this light was a bright star as it did not appear to be moving but on closer inspection, we noticed that the light was changing colour. With the aid of binoculars we could see that the colour of the light would change from white, to red, then green and back to white (not necessarily in that order). We didn’t time the period each colour was seen, but it would have only been a second or two between changes of colour. There were no flashes of light as we sometimes see on the wingtips of aircraft, just a gentle changing from one colour to another.
    It was a clear night with other stars being visible, but no other bright lights were in that part of the sky.
    We live 6km South of town on an elevated block and quite often see aircraft lights at night as they approach the Albury airport. In fact, at first we thought this light was an aircraft but because it appeared to be stationary we thought it must be on a track coming directly towards us. It was the change in colour which first alerted our attention.
    In the hour or so we observed it, it may have moved slightly to the west but only a very small amount, if at all.

      • Thanks for your response Andrew. I well below the level of expertise of an amateur astronomer but I do have the old DOS program called “Stellarium.” Using this, and reproducing the night sky at 10.00pm EST on 6th January, my best estimate is that the object we saw was at 360 degrees azimuth and an elevation of 25-30 degrees.
        If I draw a straight line beginning at the centre star of Orion’s belt and project it through Taurus (Aldebaran), then stop that line at an elevation of 28 degrees, I believe that is approximate location of the object.
        This puts the moon to the west of the object and I believe the moon was at a similar elevation to Orion.
        We looked again on the nights of 7th and 8th Janury also, but the object was not visible.
        Please bear in mind that I am estimating the object’s position based on my best recollection. Unfortunately, I did not think to compare the actual position against any of the constellations at the time we saw it. To get my best guess of its location, I returned to the window from which the object was observed and used a compass and spirit level to estimate its azimuth and elevation.
        I hope I’ve given you enough information to help narrow down the options.
        Thank you for your help.
        Regards,
        John.

        • John, Thank you. You have provided excellent information, as good as any amateur astronomer. Your measurement are particularly helpful, and you did the right thing by looking again on later days. The colour changing is typical of bright stars when near the horizon, but the only astronomical object near your light is the Pleiades star cluster so I sont think that is the explanation. There are no reports of bright supernovae or novae that night (and it would be an exceptional one to be naked-eye bright!). I dont have any other explanation so we can only hope someone else saw the same object and reports it.

          • Many thanks indeed for your help with this Andrew. The fact that we don’t really know what it was only adds to the intrigue for me. It sounds like what I saw with the object changing colours as it did was too high above the horizon for it to be a star. If supernovae are not normally visible to the naked-eye, then it definitely wasn’t a supernova that I saw. We can leave it in the “too hard” basket for now. I’m happy with that, and the good news for me is that I’ve discovered your MAAS website because of this! Lots of homework for me to do here. 🙂

          • I saw the exact same object for the past few nights. I can clearly see it as I type this. I’m in Longbranch, TX 75643. The object is below orions belt. Only way I know how to explain distance is if I stretch out my arm, holding my fingers facing me ( minus my thumb) horizontally, it is 12 fingers below orions belt lol the moon is huge and bright, new moon I think, and this object is located the right of the moon, about the same distance as orion. The three of them make a backwards L shape. This object is bright, changes colors almost rhythmic but not. It’s almost pulsing and with each pulse it changes colors but also stays flashing it’s brightness. In the last hour it has moved irraticlly but stays within close proximity of its original location. It’s almost as if it’s playing tug-of-war, from all different directions. It’s 8pm here.
            I have been watching the night sky for years now. I’ve seen my fair share of flares, satellites, aircrafts, meteors, etc. I have yet to figure out what these are. You can find atleast 1 everynight. It moves, flashes, changes colors, and also seems to cross the sky faster than the others. Occasionally, a separate bright light will flash like a camera, then a few seconds later flash on the other side of the object, and a few more times here and there and then, POOF it dissappears. Not sure what those are either but they seem to be related. Do I sound crazy yet?

    • I saw a bright light travelling across the sky tonight it didn’t change colour and it didn’t have flashing lights like aircraft normally does when going over pearcedale and there was no noise what soever and to top it all off there was a shooting star that seemed to go across the sky in the opposite way i watched the light for about 5 mins then it dissappeard through the cloud

      • I saw the same thing, a bright light fly across the sky, at first I heard a noise but realised there was a jet that was at a higher altitude then the light. When the jet was far enough away I heard no noise, at this point the bright light was above me.

    • I saw the exactly the same thing except it almost looked like two stars right on top of each other. I live in a city building and was on my third floor. I know what you are saying about airplanes. Thats what made this stand out. It was different. It was white and would get real bright then lightly fade. Next it turned green and disappeared. I called my my mom who lives next door. As I was explaing it to her it appears! This time it looked like it was blinking red. I took a picture of it. When you zoom in you can see three green lights around something? Happened tonight. Sw Michigan.

    • Quite possibly a Plane heading almost directly away or towards you, and changing Altitude. This would explain the Lights appearing to change from one colour to another. The plane was obstructing your view of the lights as it moved position. I have seen it happen just after dusk with planes that have just taken off or on approach to land.

  • Red light hovering above Tucson Arizona tonight about 9:30 p.m. I was looking Southeast directly over Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and saw a red light in the sky for about 5 minutes and then noticed it was dropping slowly towards Earth and within about two minutes I lost sight of it. It was red in color and I noticed it about the 75 degrees mark it was much bigger than a star my husband saw it as well we both watched it together

  • I saw a big flash of light that disappeared within a second. It wasn’t moving like a shooting star but it was like a torch being turned on really bright and then it disappeard. The night was clear and it was about 30-35 degrees up. It was at 12:35 in Yackandandah, Victoria, Australia. It was about south-west.

  • HI,
    On new years eve 2016/17 around 1130pm ish, a few of us spotted what appeared to be a green star.
    We were in Newcastle area NSW and looking eastward.
    Thinking the cloud cover was providing some sort of refraction of the light and that this was not the strars true colour.
    On closer examination, the star was bright green(think traffic lights) and was clearly below the cloud level as it was easily visible.
    It sat stationary for approx a minute. Long enough for us to watch it and discuss never having seen a green star before.
    Then it began to descend slowly straight down very slowly.
    Too slow to be falling under gravity and not being slowed somehow.
    It’s decent also seemd to slow as it neared the ground and we lost sight of it.
    We considered fireworks as an explaination, however it sat stationary for too long at height to be so.

    If anyone else saw it, I’d be interested to know.

    • Brett, if it was an astronomical object the green colour must have been caused by atmospheric refraction effects. Could it have been a plane’s wingtip navigation light as it headed out east?

    • Today’s date is Sept. 7, 2018 it was about 11:00 or just a few mins after I live in Sampson county about 20 miles from Fayetteville NC. I always look at the sky at nite while taking my dog out. Tonight I saw what I first thought was a star, very near to where Saturn usually is in my nite sky. This was smaller though then I realized Saturn was just to the right of the object I looked again and realized it was moving very very slowly down. It appeared white one sec then green then almost like a lite blue, occasionally it would look like a larger flash. Not like airplane lights flashing at all I see those all the time it was not the same it almost looked as if the flash came from somewhere else neare by but I couldn’t see anything else. I moved a few feet over to use the top of my bldg to use a stationary point to make sure it was really moving and it was! But it went down so slowly I’ve never seen any aircraft move this slow and straight down eventually it was just above the tree tops and then it appeared to slow down even more, I just stood then in total shock until it lowered down past the tree tops where I couldn’t see it anymore. I watched another min or 2 just to make sure nothing else happened. How crazy is it that the story above sounds exactly like what I saw!?!?!? If anyone has a viable explanation for what I witnessed I’m all ears!

  • I realise what people will think on NYE, but last night at around 8.40, waiting for the fireworks and looking south/southeast from Northbridge golf course over the city, a large yellowy/white fireball with a marked trail dropped quite low at about 45 degree angle from west to east over Watson’s Bay. Lasted about 4 seconds and briefly disappeared behind cloud before dropping almost to the horizon. Definitely not a firework, (I happened to be a with a visiting astronomer from South Africa who also saw it) but would like to hear form others who might have seen it and/or be able to identify.

  • Tonight about 7:30 I was traveling East in Camden, SC and saw a round red ball of light falling from the sky. It was falling quickly so it disappeared in about 5 seconds. I’m not sure how high it was but I was driving so I was looking up very high.
    What could it have been?

  • last night around 10pm scone . n.s.w. i seen big bright orange lights. . buzzing around in the sky like almost figure eights …pattern. . to be honest .. i was shocked ive never seen such lights in the sky .. do you have any possible answers to this weirdly strange sighting? ?

    • Jay37, moving orange lights are regularly reported here (search the reports below). I’m hoping someone will post good quality video of them one day!

  • Bright light like a star appearing extremely bright one second and then invisible the next. It appears to be over Brisbane City and has not moved it is 17.33. It is higher than the level of an aircraft. Could it be a drone? We are seeing this from Kenmore Hills, Qld.

  • Gwynneville, Wollongong. Approximately 8:50pm 27th December 2016. Some thin clouds quite high up, three bright stars visible that I recall. Saw a bright orange light at high altitude, a bit larger than the brightest star. I spotted it at 60 degrees up, facing east. It travelled roughly West South West until 85-90 degrees, then veered South. It was above the clouds but bright enough to glow through the thinnest sections, travelling roughly at the speed and altitude I’d expect to see a passenger jet, perhaps a little lower. After 4-5 minutes I lost sight of it behind an awning, and couldn’t regain visual contact when I tried to roughly two minutes later; At the speed it was traveling I would have expected to be able to see it still in the sky, though it is possible it was simply behind cloud cover.

  • – Location – Rockdale (looking towards Botany Bay), Sydney
    – 9:28 P.M
    – Looking East
    – Around 45 degrees maybe a little above but below the star Canopus
    – How long seen – A few seconds
    – Downwards towards the horizon but never got that far
    – The transparency was around 5 but clear area with no clouds close by the object
    – Venus was visible towards the West
    – Describe what you saw: I saw a bright spark on the edge of my vision then quickly turned towards that area and saw a spark going down at a medium/fast speed with a long tail. Towards the front of the object there seemed to be a sphere of lights trails coming off. The colour seemed to be orange. After its appearance there were a few smaller darts of light flashing around the area in different directions but ceased after an estimate of 7-10 seconds. After researching it did not seem to be from a meteor shower as none were currently occurring in that specific area and same with comets.
    I hope this is enough information on the object and you are able to discern what it is as I am very intrigued by it. Thank-you Lillian.

  • I continually see strange lights in the skies here in Vancouver Wa. I first noticed these gold lights appearing, and disappearing 5 years ago, as I was smoking a cigarette around 3am, something caught my eye in the sky, like a shooting start, going from east to west high out of earths atmosphere and 90 degree angle looking up, when all of the sudden, right above my head at my roof line appeared a gold ball of light, traveling from north to south along my the roof line of my house, traveled 4 houses down (roof lines) and vanished! I continually see this at least once a night, even after moving 10 miles away. My neighbors have caught it on their security camera, but just appeared as a gold light. I’ve continually see them appear right in front of my eyes, and disappear before my eyes lasting no longer than 5 minutes, and always VERY CLOSE to me, never more than 35-40 feet above my head, mostly at a 45 degree angel, and different directions each time, make no noise, and it shows as a golden ball of light about the size of a softball, and fades away, and moves like an amber from a fire that has traveled out of a fire, but moves side to side not upward like an amber.

    • i too have been seeing them for several years from here in skagit county.
      They sit still, grow brighter and then dim, they move strangely, back and forth and occasionally seem to break off into more lights while looping around each other. Most of the time I just see them appear, grow large and bright and then dissapear in the same spot where they appeared.

  • Hi,
    Sunday 18th and tonight the 20th – saw a red light go fairly quickly up into sky, flash on and off, flash green and red then fall back down.
    My location is Epping.
    I was looking north / north west towards Hornsby hospital.
    Any ideas? Drone?

    • 23rd dec 16, 10:00pm -10-20pm, facing NW, watsonia vctoria. Girlfriend and Spotted wobbly saucer shape emitting/displaying red, yellow, green, white, blue LED like lights making familiar symbols and some not familiar symbols. I drew what i could make out but the symbols changed extremely quick. We also noticed a fog like aura surrounding the UFO. At this time i pulled out our tablet to record what i was seeing.i also phned my best mate who i told to run outside and look NW, he then responded by naming the colours he saw, he confimed that what we were all looking at was not “normal”
      About 15 minutes into the light display; out of nowhere, what appeared to be a Dark coloured aircraft began to rise up underneath it from the ground, it had 3 lights on the bottom; green and yellow flashing, as if to mimic the UFO. As the aircraft from the ground rose towards UFO, the UFO began to assend in a straight line, slowly disappearing into nothing. The black aircraft was silent, (and for anyone familiar with eastern suburbs, watsonia is on the border of simpson army barracks) the black aircraft flew low and quickly after the UFO vanshed, it too vanished into the army barracks was our observation. Anyone else notice anything? Im glued to the sky all day and night hoping to interpret the message properly and researchin nonstop. I cant stop thinking and need answers!

    • I saw the same thing tonight. I live in the Knox area in Melbourne. Too big for a drone I think. Maybe a balloon, but it definitely looked like it had caught fire.

  • December 18, 2016 at +- 11.15 pm Woolston, Christchurch
    A high speed fire ball that looked the size of a boomerang on fire, travelling from north to south, it came down at an angle until what seemed rather low in the sky and a very clear sighting, no clouds. We watched it for about 5 seconds and then it seemed to burn out.

  • We were travelling south east of sorrell
    we seen a bright red light it was lit up for about 5 second falling down very slowly then disappeared then re lit up again soon after disappering again.

    Does anybody have any idea of what this could have been??

  • Hi, walking the dogs about 9:30pm AEDST I noticed a long strip of flashing lights in the sky quite distant at around 45° elevation west/north west of Ashfield NSW. The object had fixed white lights at the eastern end with blue, red & white flashing randomly up & down a single plain.

    If it was closer to the ground I’d have guessed large construction crane with warning lights on the long boom but these lights are at cloud level. Next I thought a blimp or police helicopter but the lights didn’t observably move at all for over 25 minutes. Very strange! Anyone know what they are?

  • Hi. Early this morning Saturday 10th December, between 3.30am and 4.30am my partner and I were watching the sky. I live in Enmore NSW. I’m pretty sure the stars Betelgeuse and Sirius were above us. We think Jupiter was visible as well. In the space of about 10 minutes, 3 moderate paced bright objects, appearing like stars travelled in a northerly direction. First was 90degrees, the other two about 80-70 deg. The second or third was travelling north easterly. All from different areas in the sky. They were just cruising along until they disappeared out of sight. Estimated observable time at least 30 seconds for all. It didnt end at that. We proceeded to see a grand total of 10 of these objects, in every area of the sky, my partner identified one as the international space station on a star gazing app but none of the others. It was travelling in an easterly direction. The others travelled either N,NE and E. The last object we observed before heading in was not travelling as such. It seemed stationary, south east in the sky, about 45degrees, but was moving in short bursts in a side to side motion, then becoming still again, and then sporadically moving upward and outward and then becoming stationary again, and repeating, with no ordered movements. My partner saw it change to a red colour for a split second, and I saw a white flash of light in the sky just to the east of it. My partner went inside and I watched it a further 20 minutes or so, before my eyes got sore and I reluctantly went inside. It was fascinating. I wonder how many more travelling objects we missed because our focus shifted to the sporadic movements the other object was making!!
    Do you have any ideas what we were looking at. My partner is very level headed, assuming satellites, but after the 4th sighting I felt it could be something else!!! How likely is it that we saw 10 satellites in the same vicinity in such a short space of time? Oh, and some were a kind of orangey colour. I’m pretty sure the international space station was orange, and the others just looked like white stars on cruise control. Some were very faint and some were brighter.
    I look forward to hearing from you with any ideas on what we witnessed. Thank you

    • Melissa, Thanks for the good description. Yes its normal to see quite a few satellites before sunrise. I use the Heavens-Above (be sure to enter your location) website to find out what is overhead. This morning in that hour there were 15 bright satellites, the ISS and an Iridium flare! The red colour is because they are illuminated by the red colour of the sunrise. At their altitude its already sunrise – down below you are still in darkness. I have no explanation for the unusual object. I wish someone would film these jiggling lights – sensitive DSLR with a wide-ish field of view to include foreground and on a steady tripod, and well focused (sharp stars).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *