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

4,771 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • Bateau Bay – Central Coast. It was after 1800 and just starting to get dark. We were chatting with friends in the front yard. I was facing North and looked up at about 70°and saw what I would describe as something similar to a shooting star or comet, but very bright. It was traveling from East to West. It seemed so close and was visible for about 5 seconds then disappeared. I have seen shooting stars before but nothing like this.

  • Forget to give full location of the sighting of the object in sky. I was standing in the carpark, Rachael Close, Silverwater, Sydney, NSW, Australia

  • Friday, early evening 21st Sept, 2007
    I was at Silverwater leaving work when I looked up from the carpark into the sky as a bright object shot past. it was about 6:00pm and the sky was quite bright although dusk had commenced. I was looking NNE and the object appeared travelling from left to right (NE) at maybe about 40 -45 degrees elevation.
    It was visible for about 2-3 seconds. It was moving very fast, much too fast for a plane and the sky was very clear, no clouds. I was not aware if Venus or the moon were visible. What I observed was an intense, bright, yellow/white light. As it shot past its trajectory appeared to deflect slightly upwards again before it just faded out. I had seen shooting stars before in a black night sky but this was very, very bright and I had not observed the trajectory change before. I am guessing that it was an object re-entering the atmosphere and then as it started to burn up it maybe bounced off the atmosphere and then disappeared back into space or vaporised. I had never seen anything as bright as this and the trajectory change was quite clear. I was with another guy called Russell who also saw it. Did anyone else see the same thing?

  • In a clear sky at dusk I saw a very bright object, no other stars visible yet with the sun having just set. The object had a tail and was moving very rapidly across the sky in a NE direction. It was visible for 2-3 seconds…I was looking north at about 80° elevation. It was Friday afternoon 21st Sept 07, while driving home on the Comenarra Parkway, West Pymble,(Northern Suburbs of Sydney), at around 18:00 Sydney Time.

  • At about 6.20 pm today my wife and I saw a fireball in the sky heading west to east across Lake Macquarie, near Newcastle. It had a white centre, red tail, was visible for about five seconds then appeared to burn out.

  • September 14th from Breakfast Point, NSW, facing west. Saw a red fireball at 75 degrees west, very small tail if any, looked very close. I don’t think venus or the moon were in the sky.

  • Nick, yes I agree with you. I took your advice and read up on Iridium Flashes [ never heard of them before ] and Meteors etc. The best bet is a ‘ Point Meteor ‘.
    A Meteor seen heading directly at you, hence no trail.
    Many thanks for your advice.
    Nigel. Southampton, UK.

  • Hello again Nigel. Sorry to disappoint you, but what you saw was NOT a supernova. These last for days or weeks not for a second. If it was too late in the evening for it to have been a flash from an Iridium or anorther artificial satellite, then it was a meteor, a flash as a tiny particle from space burns up in the atmosphere.

  • Nick,
    Tks for reply.
    Where can I check if it was a Supa Nove ?
    Where are they first logged / recorded ?
    If it was one, it would be a big event within this Field of Science. This could be my only ever sighting of one, I don’t want to miss out ……….. if it was one !

  • Hello Nigel. Check if it was an Iridium flash (see my comments below on 29 August 2007) though it was probably too late in the evening. Otherwise it could have been a bright meteor.

  • I live in Southampton, Hampshire, UK.
    At abt 2323 hrs UK Local,2223 hrs GMT,
    Wednesday 5th Sept 2007 .
    Facing North, abt 45 degress above the horz’, I saw a bright white flash, lasted abt one second.
    A star was just above it [ abt one degree ? ]. One flash. No trail. No aircraft. No noise.
    I have street lights, so to see this it had to be very bright. Much brighter than the nearby star.
    Like a Supa Nova ?
    Anyone with any info on this sighting ?

  • Last night, August 29th approx. 7pm Heading North on freeway just before Picton NSW, we noticed a bright object, blue/ green and light filled to the East approx. 45 degrees on the horizon. It was on the North Eastern side of the freeway. It moved to the West of the full moon and was at least as large if not twice the size of the moon. The night was perfectly clear. It appeared stationary and as we pulled the car over near Wilton, we watched it slowly pass over in the distance in front of us. We then saw the red and blue lights from beneath it and the circle of lights underneath moving around in a clockwise direction. As well as the distinct lights, there was blue/green vapour like light moving underneath. It moved to the west where it remained stationary for several minutes until we started to drive (unfortunately we had a 7.30 appointment). It then continued North along side us, still in the distance, yet very visible. The last sighting was at Menangle where it appeared stationary. It seemed that many cars on a road West of the freeway had stoppped to view it. It was eliptical in shape, well lit up and visible and it appeared to have many windows along it. When passing over in front of us it was very evident that it was saucer shaped with a top and clear lights underneath.We are in no doubt that it was not of this world and we feel blessed to have viewed it, and hope others did too.

  • Hello Mike. Well observed. You saw a flare from an Iridium satellite, no 18. These are reflections of sunlight from the antennas and solar panels of a constellation of 66 satellites. On 28 August there was a flare visible from Sydney at 6:47 pm just to the left of due south and about half way up the sky. You can get predictions of Iridium flares from http://www.calsky.com.

  • Hello all, just wanted to report something I observed last night, August 28th while watching the lunar eclipse. A friend and I were watching from Bald Hill in Stanwell Tops, and around 7pm (we didn’t get the exact time, may have been give or take 15 minutes) a star flared very brightly, then slowly faded away. We were facing east, and after locating the South Celestial Pole, it was a short distance to the left, maybe 3 fingers held at arms length. Did anyone else see it? Better yet, can anyone tell me what we saw?

  • I saw something really amazing last night. Not sure what is was. In Melbourne in Eastern Suburbs looking East a huge what looked like a fireball (we could hear a dull roar if we were silent) @ 11:45 pm (August 24th 2007) it travelled from North to South and it was bright bright orange and semi circular and it really scared us.
    Would love to know if anyone else saw it!?????

  • I saw an unidentified fireball very bright, green I think at 2343 yesterday (Friday 17th August) The size appeared about 1/5 the size of a full moon. It appeared as I was travelling east just outside Sawyers valley, Western Australia. It travelled north – south at about 20 degrees and disappeared below the horizon, having been visible to me for 1 – 2 seconds. Conditions were clear at the time

  • Hello Antony and Kathryn. A bright streak at dawn facing east – that is almost certainly an aircraft with its vapour trail backlit by the Sun. Sorry to disappoint you.

  • This morning, at 6.23am (approx) myself and a friend witnessed a streaking fireball hurling across the sky over the Gold Coast. Facing east from the Isle of Capri, we saw an orange streak moving slightly downward and towards the South / south east. We viewed it at around 30 degrees elevation, and saw it moving steadily for around 60 – 75 seconds. The sky was cloudy below the moving object, however the remaining horizon was clear. We are unsure of whether or not the moon or venus was visible, due to our excitment of the sighting.

    We would appreciate any feedback.

    Thank you. Antony and Kathryn.

  • On saturday 11th august at approx 9.30pm my husband and i were outside his parents house which is located in Wingham ( mid north coast) having a star gaze.It was a beautiful clear night and as we were facing north a huge blazing fireball looking shooting star flew threw the sky.It lasted for about 6 secs and was travelling in a southerly direction.It was about 30′ above the horizon.We could not see the moon but venus was visable.It was so amazing and i am curious to know exactely what we saw and if any one else was lucky enough to see it.

  • Around 6.45am yesterday (Thursday August 9th 2007) I was having a cigarette on my friends penthouse apartment balcony in St.Leonards. The sky was beautifully clear and blue as the sun was rising. I looked to the right of me – possibly towards the sea…and saw a light in the sky which wasn’t moving – I asked my friend to have a look also, he said ‘oh that’s just a plane’ and I said, but its not moving! he agreed and went inside – I then thought that maybe it was a tower with a light at the top…until I saw the object move very slowly to the right and then it faded into nothing. Just disappeared…I would really like to know whether anyone else saw something yesterday morning?? Thanks.

  • This morning at 6.30am, 7th of August I saw a object streaming through the sky. It was a gold fireball with a long tail and moved reasonably fast.

    I was looking out over Homebushbay in NSW towards the city. Did anyone else see it?

    Dante Hauff
    7 Years.

  • Natasha reports the following. It does sound like a fireball (a bright meteor) and it could be the same object reported by Dan S, though there is a time discrepancy of 10 minutes or so:

    I was just sitting outside my house at approx. 9.38pm on Saturday 28th July. When I saw what I thought was a shooting star. It seemed to be quite low and quite large.. It was silver and blue in colour but I could also see red behind it as it flew across the sky, From where I am I saw it for about 3-4 seconds. I live in Botany, NSW, Im not sure of the direction it was flying in, I was hoping maybe someone there would know wether it was just a shooting star or something more.

  • At approximately 8:40 PM July 31st a stationary, coruscating red and yellow object was seen nearly directly below, but a small way to the east of, Venus. It was visible for the full duration of the thirty minutes it was observed and longer, though the exact length of time is unknown. Viewed from central Maryland, USA.

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