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

4,692 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • At around 10:45pm I was outside looking due east and saw a odd light at about 45 degrees, what caught my attention was the flashing orange to blue to green.
    The night was clear, no clouds.
    The light moved in a zig zag motion, up and down then suddenly to the left, but didn’t move from the same general area.
    There were moments when it seemed to come closer as I could see disctinct lights flashing, blue, green, red. Then it would get brighter.
    I live out of the city and there was no noise at all.
    At about 11:30pm, I saw another light moving in the same fashion further to the south at about 30 degrees.
    The best I can describe the movements. Erratic sudden movements up, then sideways, then down, then left or right, no pattern to them, but never leaving the spot I initially saw them.
    I watched them until 12:00 am when clouds started moving in.

    • Hello Del. I am not sure what you saw, but one suggestion is a distant helicopter with the wind blowing away from you taking the sound away. Another is a small hot air balloon to which someone stuck led lights drifting in the wind. Maybe someone else saw the lights too?

  • At approx. 9:15pm on Tuesday 25 March, 2014 I have just witnessed a short (less than one second) flash of bright yellow light roughly the size of a 5 cent piece held at arms length. I can’t say it was moving in any particular direction since the flash was of such a short duration. It was in the Eastern sky at about 30 degrees above the horizon from a viewing location in south western Victoria; clear, still night with the milky way clearly visible, no moon. There are no visible stars in the area of sky where the flash occurred. Could this have been a distant supernovae explosion? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Hello Jon. What you saw was most likely an Iridium flash, which occurs when one of the constellation of Iridium communication satellites happens to reflect sunlight in your direction. I cannot check without a precise location, but you can do so yourself at the Heavens Above website. It was not a supernova explosion. There have only been two supernovae visible to the unaided eye in the last 400 years or so and they remained visible for weeks or months.

  • I have contstant yellow flashes in the night sky almost like lightning though the are yellow bolts and the look like they are coming from the ground the create the most powerful flash enough to the sky

  • Hi I just saw an orange ball of light going south across the sky looking east from the hunter valley it was going very fast but only lasted around 40 seconds before it vanished. The sky was clear at the time no clouds or lightning it looked like a shooting star but didn’t continue across the horizon before it burnt out.

    • Hello Simon. Thanks for your report. Earlier in the evening you could have seen a pass by the International Space Station and, depending on where you were in the Hunter Valley, an Iridium flash. So if you saw the orange ball of light at about 10 pm, the most likely explanation is a small hot-air balloon or Chinese lantern with a burner inside drifting in the wind. These could be released by pranksters or released as part of a celebration of some kind.

  • At home in Hunters Hill last night I could see bright flashing lights across the Sydney skyline from about 10.45pm. The colours ranged from bright orange & pink to bright white across a wide expanse from The Harbour bridge to the Anzac Bridge. At 11.45pm my daughter and I drove to Clarkes Point & Valentia Street Wharf in Woolwich to get a closer look at the city to see if there was a fire or some evidence to show what may have been the cause. Thankfully the city looked as beautiful as ever and it didn’t seem to worry all the people fishing at the wharf at midnight. What was it?

  • I was sitting in a back patio area, facing north west at approximately 10pm Sunday evening ( 23/3/14 )
    I am located in the north western suburb of MERRIWA in Perth W.A. Facing the general direction of the coast.
    The angle on the sky visible from where I was sitting would be about 40 to 20 degrees due to the patio roof, and the top of the colourbond fence line.
    The object fell slowly, leaving no visible trail as a meteor might do. Possibly 2 – 3 seconds only
    The object appeared about 2mm in diameter, but distance away was difficult to judge. I am guessing it was fairly large. Due to the direction of travel and the estimated size, I believe this object would have fallen into the ocean.
    The light was a solid bright white light.
    At the time, there were no visible clouds, and no sign of the moon etc.
    I am curious if others saw anything, or if there is some explaination as to what it might have been ?

    • Hello Paul. Thanks for your report. From your description it sounds as if you saw a bright meteor as meteors do not necessarily leave a visible trail behind. Meteors usually burn up at an altitude of 40 km or more so it was probably a long way away from you. If it was sufficiently large and dense enough to survive its passage through the atmosphere, then it may have fallen into the ocean.

  • Hi I live in mcgraths hilk and tonight I am seeing flashes in the sky. It looks like lightning but I has been going on for over 15 minutes and ut flashes ever few seconds. It looks like it is over the sydney city.

  • I am in moree nsw and at about 8:20pm on 22/3/2014 I was sitting out the front of my house and I notice a large orange ball of light about 30 degrees in the sky towards the south of my location, it was flying north west in direction for approx. 1 min.it was a very clear night sky. as it was flying over our house we moved out to the road to see where it was going and trying to figure out what it is, then we notice a plains lights heading south just north of the light then the light just seamed to disappear. the southern cross was just off the horizon towards the south east and there was not a cloud in the sky

    • Hello Joel. Thanks for your report. As the ISS was not visible from Moree on 22 March 2014, the most likely explanation for the orange ball of light is a small hot-air balloon or Chinese lantern with a burner inside drifting in the wind. These could be released by pranksters or released as part of a celebration of some kind.

  • Hi there,
    I just saw a bright orange light in the sky heading from east to west across Perth’s eastern suburbs. time was approx 2033hrs on 21/03/2014. The light started quite big, perhaps close to a small street light and disappeared in the east getting smaller as it traveled. I have seen many ” shooting stars” before but this looked much larger and more orange in color.
    Any news of what it was would be great.

    • Hello Hamish. Thanks for your report. As the ISS was not visible from Perth on 21 March 2014, the most likely explanation is a small hot-air balloon or Chinese lantern with a burner inside drifting in the wind. These could be released by pranksters or released as part of a celebration of some kind.

  • Hello

    Have seen flashes of what appears to be lightning in the same area behind the same cloud on an off all evening. Last time I checked it was around 10pm and it occurred within the space of 2 minutes or so. I was facing east around 80* I think. Anyone else?

    • Last night I saw some amazing lightning flashes inside a cloud cluster. Watched it over a fifteen minute period of time. Wow! Brought friends outside to watch it, too.
      Live in Chatswood. The bank of clouds was South East and travelled further south in the time that I was watching.
      Another friend saw something similar a couple of nights ago in Marrickville area.

    • > Hello I live in Kensington and I saw this to! It was so weird because it was only happening in the cloud and no where else in the sky. We thought it was some kind of prank but the lights were moving so fast, I just don’t think it is possible to fake that kind of event. We tried to film but the only thing visible to the camera were the clouds, it was so frustrating because we could see the lights clearly.. is this strange to anyone else? And than when we stopped that recording and tried to get a better focus the video could not even pick up the clouds, it was just fully black! Its so strange.. I am baffled and so glad my friends and I were not the only ones to experience this. Thanks for sharing guys any update would be amazing

      • I had the same problem. Went to take pics but the photos were totally black. Frustrating. Fascinating to watch the clouds though. Lovely.

  • Hi…
    Date 19.03.14
    Time. Around 9.30pm
    Loc. kellyville

    Was looking at the lightning off the coast when I sighted what I would describe as a ‘ falling star’ I would say in the east.

    First time I have seen this and am obviously curious if this was seen by others and what it actually was.

    Was quite bright, compact and looked like a sky rocket before it exploded but travelling down not up.

    Look forward to your opinion and / or advice on what it actually was.



    • Hi Gary. Thanks for your report. It does sound like you saw a bright meteor – small rock hitting the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up. It would be good to hear from others who saw it as well.

  • Hey,
    Between the 14th and 18th of March 2014 I have been seeing this orange light over Sydney’s Northern beaches. The light appears around roughly 3am every night. I’m not sure when it disappears as I end up going to sleep.

    The light seems to be centred roughly above Warriewood. Every night it is in approximately the same position, which made me think it was just a new fixed light which may have been installed or something, but during the day I can’t see any evidence of any kind of fixed light in the position I am seeing this light.

    Some straight things about it:
    It doesn’t really move at all, it essentially stays in the same position, though, I haven’t really looked at it for more then 10 minutes each night.

    Some nights the light will fluctuate, which kind of makes it seem like a chinese lantern, though the fact that it doesn’t move rules out this suggestion.

    I’m really not sure what it is, the first night I saw it, I just brushed it off thinking it was a chinese lantern. The next night I thought it might just be a helicopter checking something out, thought I have never seen a helicopter stay in the exact same position for such a long period of time.

    I’m really not sure what it is, it seems to be above the ocean, rather than the land so another suggestion I had was that it was a flare. But flares move quite a bit, and 3 nights in a row… Seems unlikely.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    • Hello Grayham. You were looking at the planet Venus that currently rises about 3:20 am. It is very bright and can be seen towards the east. When Venus is low down near the horizon it may appear orange for the same reason that the Sun appears red/orange at sunset – the long path through the atmosphere scatters the blue light, leaving the orange/red colour behind.

  • On the 13 March 2014 at approximately about 2215 hours myself and another person in the car had spotted a green ball of light going south west directions the sky was clear when we saw it it was 75 degree angel inside the car and land I think in the hills the object would have lasted about 3 to 5 seconds

    • Hello Nicky. Thanks for your report and it does sound as if you saw a bright meteor or fireball. You do not say where you were so it is not possible to anyone else to confirm your sighting. Incidentally, when you see a fireball seemingly hit the horizon it does not mean that it has landed, but only that it has moved out of your view.

  • At 1:51 am on Sunday, I was outside and looked up at the sky when I saw a bright red-orange light, it was very bright and was hovering in the sky. There was no noise coming from it and it was just moving towards my direction very slowly. It would move slightly from side to side and all of a sudden it looked like something was released from it. What ever it was it went down very fast and disappeared. Then the bright red/orange light moved up, and disappeared. The sky was clear when I saw the sighting, and the light was very bright that it even created a glow around it. It was hovering in the sky for 7 minutes. This sighting was in Ceres, Ca. What could it be??

    • Hello Linda. Thanks for your report. I think that the moving orange light that you saw was a small hot air balloon or Chinese lantern with a burner of some kind inside, drifting in the wind. These things seem to be released often by pranksters or as part of celebrations. When something dropped from it, either by design or accident, the balloon rose higher as would be expected.

  • By the way.. I was on the six floor and the object was about between 70to 80* its movement was pretty much always around the same point but it would disappear sometimes in direction “away from earth” and than come back on the same route…

    • Hello Dirk. Thanks for your report, but I have no idea what you saw. What are thunders? Did you mean the sound of lightning? And the Sun rose at 6:55 am on Sunday morning so that any light would have long faded by 8 am.

  • Two nights in a row me and two other people were observing a orange light, north east, from around 10pm all night till circa 8am this morning over manly. First it looked like a star..I Even took Venus in consideration.. But after circa 5 min we abounded this theory because of it’s strange ,very fast acceleration and incredible speed! More interesting and confusing were that this “thing” had a kind of “thunders” coming out from its bright centre… These “thunders” increased last night and it seamed the centre would absorb or release massive electric energy. These happened every 5/10min … The weird thing was that these “thunders” had defiantly a repeating “structure”. The sky was without clouds so even its movements were very clear to observe! No flying object,to me known,could ever be so fast in acceleration,flying and stoping! In my opinion it just can’t be a satellite ,Chinese latern, weather balloon or even other planets or stars,visible from earth. I heard even some explanation like some laser beams… But how do you explain the massive thunders coming out of the centre?? I will observe this for me ,bizarre but fascinating object, also tonight( in case its back..) would be great to hear some opinions about it…

  • Tonight, 14 March 2014 at approximately 9.30 pm I was sitting on my daughter’s verandah at Naremburn. There was a small circle of red lights in the sky with a green light in the centre which appeared to be blinking. It was hovering in the same position, to the south at an elevation of slightly less than 45 degrees, for approximately 5 minutes and then moved slowly to further west and higher in the sky and became smaller and dimmer as it moved further away. There was a light cloud cover over some of the sky which for a while partly obscured the red and green light. It hovered in that position for some time and then slowly sank lower until it was obscured by a large tree. I could see the moon in the northern sky and several stars. The red lights were circular but not a continuous circle and the centre was a green light which blinked.

    • Hello Jennifer. Thanks for your report. Your sighting does seem mysterious. I can only suggest that you saw the lights of a distant helicopter or remotely-operated drone, though the latter are not meant to be operated at night.

    • Jennifer drury – I saw exactly the same thing – red light with occasional flashing green. At first I thought it was a helicopter, but it was dead silent. (I can hear helicopters miles away ). My Flatmate witnessed it also. It seemed to make slight circles in the air ( hovering low) then stayed completely still in the air …then seemed to drift down (and behind trees in the distance so I could no longer see it). I just saw it at 7:30pm tonight – about 7 minutes north of Perth. It was slightly north of me in joondanna. North west position. I did a search online to see if anyone saw this & found your post!!! The strangest thing is ever since, my foxtel satellite keeps dropping out.

  • Thank you for your reply. There was a light smattering of white cloud in the sky. I mentioned the area of the sighting. I thought with a search light or laser, that a beam to the object would have been visible. What would the beam be reflected onto as the object was most times in clear sky. I don ‘t think a star could travel very rapidly at an angle, and then reverse in a
    new direction about 20 0r 30 degrees above the horizon . I am open to
    suggestion, as I have never witnessed anything like this before.
    Thank you for your interest, and hopefully an answer to what I saw.

  • What I saw was in the early morning 5.15.am, it was moving north from south and it was a horizontal line moving very fast

    • Hello Shirley. Where were you? When? What did you see? Was the sky clear or cloudy? Without these details no one can indicate that they saw the thing and I cannot make a suggestion on what you could have seen.

  • Just submitted my experience of a sighting of ‘something’ in the sky.
    I forgot to add the time of the sighting, which was between 10p.m. and 10.30 p.m.

    • Hello Shirley. Thanks for your report and adding the time. At that time in the evenings the planet Jupiter is just to the west or left of north and shining brightly. Are you sure that was not what you saw? If you see a planet like Jupiter through gaps in the clouds, the movement of the clouds can give the impression of movement in the planet. Otherwise a searchlight or a laser beam does seem as a possibility.

  • On Saturday 1st March – a very bright light at about 55 degrees looking North above Surfers Paradise. It change from brilliant white to brilliant red.
    It did not move so it wasn’t a plane, and was too big for a star. While I
    was looking at it – is shot down through white clouds but was still visible. I
    travelled so quickly I thought perhaps it was a falling star – but having travelled at a 45 degrees angle, it stopped still. I tried to attract my neighbours so that |I would have witnesses. (I am on the 10th floor of a highrise building). While trying to attract their attention, the light zoomed left in a straight line and once again hovered at about 20 degrees above the buildings. I went to get my phone to ring the neighbours, but it had gone before I got back to my balcony. It wasn’t a laser beam. I have never seen anything like this before…ever. Anyone see it other than me???

    • On March 2nd at approximately 1.00am myself and my wife witnessed an extremely bright white light close in shore off the far south coast of NSW. We thought it might be a search light from a boat as it was down near the water line and as we drove away from the coast for 20 minutes or so we could still see the bright glow in the sky like the moon rising. There was no visible moon that night!
      As we again approached the coast on our travels we stopped and observed the light many kms out to sea on the horizon, still extremely bright. I don’t think a water craft could have traveled that far in such a short period of time.
      The only explanation I can offer is perhaps a helicopter as it remained to still for a fixed wing aircraft but I have never seen a light shining so bright from so far away.
      We then drove to our house about 20 kms inland over hilly terrain and when we arrived we could still see the glow in the sky from the light – quite strange??

  • Did anyone witness the huge falling light at 3.56am in adelaides north was the largest unexplained light ive seen .

  • End of April 2006, clear night in Derby, England. Having a cigarette out of the skylight in my mums bungalow, looking into the sky. There was a cloud covering roughly 10-15 degrees squared. A green pulse emanated from the centre of the cloud (seemingly) either starting or finishing with a green sphere (light). The cloud was the only one I could see in the sky from my 360 degree view. There was no sound, I thought nothing of it but have not found a similar description on the internet (albeit without a crazed amount of searching). I am most certainly intrigued by this, I studied physics at undergrad. Anyone heard anything similar?
    I don’t believe it was a plane as there was no accompanying red light, the cloud didn’t appear to be very high and I would have thought I would have heard a plane flying this low. East Midlands international in 10 miles away from derby, so it could have been a plane. Information I’ve read suggests green and blue light near the horizon. Another piece of information was that the cloud lay between 45-60 degrees from the horizon, maybe 0100-0230 hrs..

    I welcome any and all suggestions, ps I don’t believe it’s ‘extra terraliens’ or special tech, some kind of meteorological phenomena of some description….?

    • Hello David. I would guess that what you saw was lightning inside the cloud, a fairly common phenomenon. If the cloud was sufficiently far away from you and maybe the wind was blowing towards the cloud than you may not necessarily have heard any thunder.

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