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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4,464 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • hi,

    I was walking down High Street near UNSW looking at the sky as I did (around 9pm – facing west). I saw what looked like a very large crescent moon. It was a dusty red colour. I continued to walk down the hill, and the moon shape object disappeared behind the buildings. I thought it a little strange that it disappeared but thought it must simply be hidden by the buildings.

    I have just driven back up to the top of the hill to show my husband the brillant ‘moon’. I couldnt find it.

    I know its a silly question – but what was it that I saw?

    Thank you

  • Dazza
    Thanks for your report, but you do not indicate what direction you were looking and how bright the object was. Maybe you were looking at the planet Jupiter that is bright at the moment and at 10:40 pm was about 55° up in the sky about due east.

  • Where you were : Sutherland, sydney
    10:40pm
    NE
    70 degrees up
    watched it for about 10 minutes and it is still there
    direction of travel, south i think
    clear with no clouds

    A comet with a faint tail is visible, quite interesting 🙂

  • Where you were – Telfer Western Australia
    The time – 6.15am WST Thursday 17th of May 2007
    The direction you were looking – North East
    How high up you were looking – 75 deg
    How long you saw the object – About 5 Seconds
    The direction the object was moving – Northerly Direction
    Whether it was clear or cloudy – Clear
    Whether you could see the Moon or Venus or any other astronomical object – No moon or planets in the area
    Describe what you saw – The sky lit up then there was a bright flash, like lightning, bright enough to light the ground up. Booming noise. Large trail left behind, object was not travelling as fast as a shooting star much slower.

    Did anyone else see it?

  • Hi

    Where you were – Sydney Park St Peters
    – The time: Mon 07/05/2007 05:40
    – The direction you were looking: east to approaching sunrise
    – How long you saw the object 1 second
    – The direction the object was moving: down, 11 0’clock to 10 o’clock high (but I wasn’t, I was drinking milk. I spoke to Fred Watson on 702 last night.)
    – Whether it was clear or cloudy: clear
    – Whether you could see the Moon or Venus: didn’t notice. – Describe what you saw

    it was like a white line being drawn vertically and expanding horizontally to the thickness of a thumb at arm’s length as it was drawn. The length was only about 30 degrees. And it disappeared almost simultaneously.

    Did anyone else see it?

  • Hi

    Where you were – on the Central Coast
    – The time 2140
    – The direction you were looking south east roughly 45°
    – How long you saw the object it’s still there now… hovering
    – The direction the object was moving up and down
    – Whether it was clear or cloudy clear
    – Whether you could see the Moon or Venus or any other astronomical object yup both and they were on completely opposite sides to the object
    – Describe what you saw

    What we first thought of was a star, but on further observation we noticed it changing in size minimally and moving extremely slowly up above some trees and slowly move back down, it also moved towards the left aswell. Not normal obs for a ‘normal’ space or atmospheric object. Have seen comets and meteors before along with satellites. Definetley wasnt any of these.
    I thought it may have been Gamma Velorum but it was indeed moving and looked like a disco ball in the sky, flashing lights of red green and yellow.
    Was not an aeroplane or helicopter. I mean this thing looked like party central.

    Did anyone else see this? It was a good distraction from my uni work thats for sure!

  • Early Early sunday morning… this massive comet like fireball with a HUGE tail went flying over Rose Bay Golf Course in Sydney, Australia whilst we were putting on the green @ approx 3:30am give or take a few hours. Its was going a million miles an hour and was really bright which was frickn cool. Thought it was gonna hit the ground somewhere but still haven’t heard any news on it… help me out am i just seeing sh*t????

  • On March 11th, 2007 my family and I were standing outside flying a remote control plane… we were looking up into the sky (because of the plane we were flying), and we all seen a bright green ball flying through the sky. It went on for several moments before we lost sight of it. It appeared to have fallen down behind some houses….

    We found out that it didn’t fall behind houses in our neck of the woods… aparently this was spotted by people in Canada, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan.

    Anyone know what this was? I’m curious because I’m watching a show on television right now where the Military is describing the same green balls of light, and they are saying that they think it’s UFO’S….. This is on the History Channel. They are saying it’s right out of the XFiles…. that it’s seriously a UFO. This is being shown on 04-30-07. You can view the archives online I’m sure….

    Thanks!

    Amber

    email

    amberdwyer@insightbb.com

  • Andy thanks for your detailed description. You are right that it could be possible to see Eta Aquarids this time of the year (they peak on 6 & 7 May), but only in the mornings. On Sunday 29 April at 10 pm the point from which the Eta Aquarids originate (the radiant) was 46° below the horizon and it would have been imposssible to see a meteor from that direction.

  • Location: Dulwich Hill, Sydney, NSW
    When: Sunday April 29th (approx. 10:00pm)
    I was facing north and spotted an object at approx. 70-75 degrees above the horizon. (I spotted when it came into view from my back veranda – so I don’t know how long it had travelled before I saw it).

    I observed it travelling fast in a northerly direction for about 3 seconds before vanished. It fell at, what seemed to me at least, a shallow angle. It disappeared around 50 degrees above the horizon.

    Description: Spherical. The majority of its mass was an exceptionally bright fluorescent green. Its circumference a deeper green. Its colour flickered vigorously as it fell.

    Before finally flickering out, there was a definite crimson flash beneath it – a C-shaped light, cupping what I figured was the object’s leading edge super-heating. It must have done the trick as the leading edge finally flashed a tiny lick of yellow/orange just before the main body’s fluorescent green flashed one last time and (puff)… Gone.

    Throughout it’s trip – I could also clearly see it was leaving a black smoke trail behind it. Inky black smoke, like tyres, but still very clearly defined.

    The sky had some cloud cover, but quite patchy. But the object fell across a clear patch of sky. I can’t guess at its real size, but the best approximation I can offer is – it was about a quarter the size of the nail on your little finger (pinkie) if you have your arm fully-extended. (Hope that makes sense!).

    I’ve seen one of these before (over Sydney again, in 1999). Incredibly beautiful. Was it part of the Eta Aquarids? Or is it too early? Either way – it was a real pleasure to witness it. 🙂

  • Last night at 7.30 pm in Braybrook, Melbourne my husband and I spotted a fireball that came out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly. It was like a flash.

  • last night about midnight (Folsom, California) My friend Karen saw this huge bright silver glowing ball coming almost directly toward us at a tremendous speed, we screamed and as it disappeared about 3 seconds later a small tail appeared & disappeared.

  • Today at aprox 7:30 pm from the western suburbs ( St Albans) looking out towards the south east my self and three others saw a fireball appear out of nowhere traveling extreamly fast and disapearing again 3 seconds later. The color and density of the object was very strong and clear, it was a green, red, orange color. leaving a distinct tail behind. What was odd was the object travelled accross the sky , not down or up.

  • Early on Sat 21/4/7, about 0030 hrs I was in the country outside of Braidwood NSW. There was no moon or cloud.

    I was looking at the N-E sky about 35 deg above the horizon with the naked eye.

    I saw an expanding faint white light that grew to about 20 star widths.

    It was not homogenous, in that it appeared to have a large number of expanding very diffuse radii of light within a lighter background.

    After reaching its greatest diameter it disappeared.

    The time lapsed was probably less than 1 second.

    I pass this on for anyone interested.

  • it was 20 of april 2007, i was at work having a fag when at 12.30am approx i was lookin up at 90 degres when i saw a light the sama coler as the stars appear out of nowhere it was there for just a sec then diserpeared it was a clear night, can someone give me a reason for this 1 second flash of light.

  • Brandon We saw the same object in CT on April 21. It seemed to hover moving sometimes slowly. The top flickered red and green. We watched it for a few hours trying to figure out what it was, but we came up with no explanation.

  • Denver, CO
    April 20, 2007
    11:05 p.m.

    We were sitting on our balcony in our downtown condo looking west when a large fireball flew across the sky. The tail was extremely bright with brilliant yellow and green tints. It was much brighter than anything else in the sky and traveled at about a 60-degree angle from left to right. We watched as it fell behind the skyline and disappeared. Visual lasted about 4-5 seconds. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It was so bright and distinct and lit up the sky. It looked very low to the ground and was probably about 25-30 degrees up in the sky. Object appeared to be heading north and would have landed somewhere northwest of Denver.

  • I was just spacing out then I caught a glimphs of the star it caught my interest and I told my parents and they didnt know. The colors of the flickering was between orange, red, but mostly green. I was staring at the star continuously but it just didn’t seem to move at all. So I ended up staring at it for about 10 minutes but still nothing.

  • Monday 9th April, Grafton Just after dusk. Clear skies. A large white ball with a long tail of red/orange appeared in the southern sky. It was travelling downward approx 45degrees in an easterly direction. It was moving relatively slowly and was clearly visible for about 5 seconds. The tail then disappeared and the white ball could still be seen for another couple of seconds. Seemed very close. Four of us witnessed this spectacle.

  • A report from Tony:

    city: Southport
    country: Australia
    comments: It’s midnight April 17. I look up and see this huge comet thingy rocketing across the sky south to north. Did anyone else see it? Can someone tell me I wasn’t imagining it. It was massive. What was it?

    Tony, without a better description and reports from other people it is hard to say, but it could have been a fireball, a small piece of rock hitting the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up.

  • An emailed report from Christine:

    city: Kendall NSW 2439
    country: Australia
    comments: On Monday 10th April 2007 I saw something very unusual, 6:12pm I was sitting on my back deck and I saw a white ball with a firetail which lasted only a few seconds, when this faded I saw another one almost identical to the first and faded within seconds. Each on appeared larger than a star and headed in a southeast direction. (Port Macquarie 31 south latitude as said by Port Macquarie observatory). Several other locals witnessed the same but only saw one fireball. Very interesting, what exactly did I see?

    Christine, could it have been somebody letting off flares?

  • tonight monday the 16th at 8;15 pm heading east over top of me in lake boga vic for about 3-5 seconds i saw a fire ball 4 times the size of a star with small fire balls coming off the back of it about 65 high in the sky on a clear night it was heading towards a satalight about 25 hight it was very fast, and then vanished at about 40 in hight of the ground what was it ? thanks troy

  • for deborah ingham of thornleigh ring wendy hi mate i saw something too thats how ive found you.i hope you see this deb.

  • Sunday 15th April, Adelaide, around 18:45-18:50, looking South-East. Below and to the left of Alpha&Beta Centauri TWO very bright star-like objects were visible, close (maybe half the distance between alpha and beta Centauri) together. Brighter than Sirius and Canopus. I knew there are no bright stars in this position so watched them. They faded to nothing within about 20-30 seconds from the time I first saw them – until I couldn’t see them anymore. Not sure if they moved – may have had a slow falling motion? They looked like flares dying out – but they definitely appeared to be ‘astronomical’. Was this a Double Iridium Flare? Checked the Heavens Above website – there was one predicted last night at 19:15 – I saw mine earlier and 2 not 1, and one tonight at 19:21.

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