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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4,477 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • In Sydney on Sat. 28th July and at about 9:25pm, I saw what I believed to be a very bright fireball. It was about 45 degrees above the horizon heading westerly and broke up before it passed the horizon/roof tops. Lasted about 5 seconds. The night was clear. Anyone else see it?

    Thanks

  • Hello Tony. The only astronomical object in the north-east sky that could fit your description is the planet Mars. That is red and reasonably high in the sky, just over a handspan (with stretched fingers at arm’s length) above the horizon. It is getting slowly brighter as the distance between it and the Earth reduces until the opposition in December.

  • this morning at approx 4am we were looking at the stars and saw a orangey red object at aabout 45 degrees in the north eastern sky both my wife and myself abserved this over a period of 1/2 hour and the object seemed to be moving backwards and forwards but ever so slightly moving downwards at 45degrees. We have never noticed it before. It was an extremely clear night. We live on the mid north coast of NSW.

  • Hello Raeanna. the bright, orange-looking object low in the west at 11 pm was the planet Venus. I am not sure what you describe as the streak, but the Moon was at first quarter, in other words half the face was visible, and would have been bright. The Moon set soon after midnight and so would not have been there when you looked later on.

  • and i forgot to put the date and where i seen this, im tired, sorry guys!

    June22 2007-June23 2007
    Oakfield, Maine (where i was driving from,
    and
    Island Falls, Maine(where i live)

    United States.
    -raeanna

  • okay well heres is what i viewed tonight and i was wondering if someone could tell me what I’ve seen.

    11:00 pm is about when i noticed it,
    i was heading home from my boyfriends house and something caught my eye.
    i thought it was a wire from a telephone pole ( i thought the light was reflecting off of it like phone wires do from the street lights) but it was up too high in the sky to be a wire. i thought ” whatever, it probably is a jet trail like you see in the day time”
    then i looked at what i though was the moon but it was really low to the horizon in the west –so maybe it was the sun (????) but whatever it was it was extremely bright and orange-y looking.

    when i arrived at my house, at about 11:15 pm i got out of my car and looked up at the sky. running from north to south or south to north, not sure where it began or ended, was that same streak– directly overhead (90 degree angle) and arched slightly like a rainbow. above it was relatively bright. there were many stars out– actually it was one of the clearest nights ive seen in a long time here so it wasn’t fog or anything i dont think. it was still visible for a while after that. around 12 (midnight) i went to look at it again, and it was gone. completely.

    this large streak that i seen appeared to be stationary.
    it really reminded me of a rainbow directly above made out the trail of some sort of plane/jet. it was quite wide too.i’d say the width of two moons side by side.

    so please if you have any information please get back to me.

    thanks.

  • On June 21, 2007, between 9:45 & 10PM MT USA, right after watching the ISS and Space Shuttle (now separated) pass over Albuquerque, NM, both my wife and I were facing the western sky when this huge fireball shot from east to west at about 30 degrees. It lasted about 3-4 seconds and disappeared. It was the largest one we’d ever seen in our 70+ years on earth,
    all bright orange and red…unlike a white meteroite streak. A real blaze! Local news stations failed to observe and report it. Sorry we took so long to contact you with the observation. Any one else see it?

  • Where you were: Stanmore, NSW
    – The time: About 6pm, Friday 6 July 2007
    – The direction you were looking (north, east, south, west or in-between): West
    – How high up you were looking (horizon is 0° elevation, half way up is 45° and directly overhead is 90°): 60 degrees
    – How long you saw the object: Still there at 6.39 after first sighting
    – The direction the object was moving: Not moving. Steady.
    – Whether it was clear or cloudy: Very clear.
    – Whether you could see the Moon or Venus or any other astronomical object: Could see stars.
    – Describe what you saw: It looked like a classic star shape, very bright. Through binoculars, it it appeared like an exploding skyrocket at the New Year fireworks, then changed shape to appear like a concentrated point of light and was also swirling with a hole in the middle. It was a changing sight. A spectacular sight. Brighter than anything else in the night sky.

  • On summer solstice Thursday June 21, 2007 at around 10pm my dad spotted an odd light in the North East sky over Texada Island. We were viewing from his kitchen window a large bright orange glow in the sky. Using our binoculars we saw a flaming glow. I thought it looked like a Solstice bonfire, but then realized that it would have had to have been quite huge to see it that large. We watched it and called my mom and my daughter to see it. It was probably in the same spot for about five to ten minutes and then it disappeared.
    We were in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island at the time.

  • This morning at 4.30am on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Appeared to be a Metorite with flaming ball and tail coming to earth. It seemed to be very near, I listened for an impact explosion, but heard nothing, so I guess it went into Narrabeen Lake. I was in North Manly looking NNW, the “meteorite” fell almost vertically with a slight West to East track.

    Hard to judge how big it was, because I could not be sure of how far it was away. If it was as close as I think it was maybe half a metre in diameter. The weather was clear and windy.

  • Nick,

    re sighting this morning in the eastern sky – the object was not moving , did not appear to have any sort of a trail or tail and remained visible from the time I first sighted it at around 6.15am until sunrise (approx an hour) .

    what ever it was, it was acceptionally bright and to the naked eye appeared to be flickering – when observed through a telescope it exhibited a mixture of colours (predominately Blue and Red)

    It maybe visible again tonight –

  • Hello Megan and Izaak. Thanks for your reports. Bright object just before dawn in east – it cannot be Venus as that is still visible in the evenings. Once again it seems like a vapour trail from an aircraft backlit by the rising Sun. Both at sunrise and at sunset these can look spectacular and with the cold weather we seem to be in a season for vapour trails.

  • In the eastern sky – location – Portland Victoria

    sighted – what appears to be a supernova low in the sky about 10 degrees above the horizon.

    with small telescope was able to see coloured lights of red, blues yellows. it looked like it had a hole in the centre.

    the time was 6.45am on the 27th June 2007

  • portland victoria
    6:45am 27/6/07

    east
    10 degrees
    till sun rise
    was not moving
    clear
    no
    i look like a super nova

  • sighting on friday 22nd june 2007

    Very impressive daytime sighting. 4.33 pm friday 22nd june 07.
    a large metior about 3 finger widths long and almost one wide, i spotted it when it was about 30 degrees from horizon traveling south (i think ) it took about 3-5 minutes to get to 20 degrees and went out of site.
    It was very bright and appeared to be moving slowly. long white tail, i’m just glad i saw it of a day.
    spotted at kareela golf course in the sutherland shire while out playing. no clouds in the way.

    did anyone else see it ? (besides who i was playing with)

  • Has anyone seen an object in the sky similar to this report?
    I did not report it immediately as i thought an explanation would appear in the media at some time.
    Approx. 3 weeks ago on either 28th or 29th May( i think) at roughly 2pm my wife and i saw an object 45o in the sky from Harbord, Sydney looking in a SE direction. The strange thing was that it was stationary. We got a very good pair of binoculars out of the car and looked at the object. It appeared very large and high up and still no movement was discernable.
    The shape and colour of the object was extremely unusual.
    Two angular (wing- like?) upwards pointing sections that were dark green to black in colour, and a shiny creamy-yellow ,round base. After a few minutes of observing i moved to get a better view but could not find it.
    There was a weather pattern indicating high altitude winds – so if this was a weather balloon or other similar object wouldn’t it’s movement be noticeable?
    It seemed like a large object and was quite easy to see with the naked eye- though the colours weren’t evident.
    I’m an amatuer astronomer and I am at a loss to explain this object. I also note that there have been some recent reports (by pilots) in the media of a very large object coincidentally rather similar in size, description and colour to this object.
    Did anyone else see this object or can they attempt to explain it?

  • Hello Matthew. From your description it was most likely to have been a vapour trail from an aircraft backlit by the Sun. You are most welcome to name it after your son and the Kellen Vapour Trail does have a nice ring to it.

  • Hi Nick, Well i’ll have to order a copy of your book- am happy to support a good blogger plus associated with the PM 🙂 Other than visiting the PM a few times, i worked there one night as a temporary waitress for an Environment awards night function 🙂 was good!
    Best wishes with your work 🙂
    Michelle

  • Saturday 23rd, trail seen in a NW direction. Trail was travelling quite fast. It was approximately at 15 degrees above the horizon and slowly declining in a westerly direction towards the horizon. I was able to view the trail for around 15 minutes until it went below the horizon. I was located in Camden NSW 2570. The time was at 4:40pm and the sun was setting, no clouds. The trail length was approximately a fifth of the length of the last comet a few months ago. Seemed to be moving too fast to be a comet, and I havent seen a meteor look like that before. Any information would be much appreciated. considering I beleive that I was the first to see it, I would like to name it after my son “Kellen” whatever it was, even if it was a plane. Cheers and Happy gazing.

  • On Thursday night 21st June 2007 at around 6.15pm, i was driving home south on the Dandenong-Hastings road around the Lyndhurst (Victoria) area and saw a very clear bright object trail at about 35 degrees from NE to SW. It lasted approx 2-3 seconds and was the brightset “shooting star” i have ever seen. I cant remember seeing the moon at the same time but would love to know if anyone else saw this and find out exactly what it was?
    Jay

  • Hello Michelle. Thanks for your nice comments. Just a couple of points:

    Meteor showers generally have fainter meteors as they are due to small particles about the size of a grain of rice hitting the atmosphere. Bright meteors or fireballs due to small rocks are not predictable and could happen at any time.

    The Australian Sky Guide http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/publications/2007_sky_guide.asp published by Powerhouse Publishing and prepared by your humble blogger also mentions the main meteor showers during the year.

  • Great to hear everyone’s feedback regarding the sighting last Wed 13th June. Without this website i probably never would have worked out that i saw a fireball- thanks Nick for confirming! 🙂
    I only remembered to check back to this site today… so had a big smile on my face to see all the entries. I would have just thought i was seeing something that night… and i must admit i was waiting for a bang or smoke or something- the fireball looked so close and big!
    I emailed my story to my family and friends- and got a reply from my sisters friend- who i know has an interest- in meteorlogy. He said: “Awesome !!!!
    I have seen one “amazing” meteor at about 7ish around 15 years ago !!! It was a massive green / white glow, really REALLY big, I actually thought it would have become a meteorite – but heard nothing on the news so I guess it didn’t hit the ground.
    It was on the corner of Parsonage Rd and Windsor Rd looking out Crestwood way over the valley. My Dad also saw it so I have a witness !!! : )
    These thing go anywhere from 20,000 – 60,000 km per second – crazy !!
    If you get copy of Astronomy 2007 book in Natgeo shops they will actually tell you where to look at what time to see most meteor showers. : )
    You will see many more in Tasi when you go !! :)”
    I am moving to Tasmania soon- so will definately buy this book and keep a look out for more objects in the sky!
    So – great to have seen this amazing chance event – during such a boring occassion as driving home from office at night.
    Thanks all- and great feedback service Nick 🙂

  • On Wednesday June 13th 2007 I was at a house in Howes Valley (about 100km North of Windsor on Putty Road), sitting outside enjoying the clear night and preparing for some sky watching with my new telescope when my wife and I witnessed what we’ve since found out to be a fireball at around 1930.

    It appeared quite round and white with a long yellow flaming tail. It lasted in the sky for several seconds and appeared to be travelling in a southerly direction as I was facing WSW. It was quite high in the sky, probably 60 degrees.

    I’ve witnessed ‘shooting stars’ before, but this was much larger and more amazing to watch.

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