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

4,764 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • On saturday evening (20th October), I was on a property near Rylstone when I saw an object that I initially thought was a flare or firework flying through the sky and disappearing into a nearby gully. It was predominantly red and green coloured. I was amazed, as it was still (just) before dusk, and the sky was still quite light. I also knew that it couldn’t have been a flare or firework, as there was no-one nearby who could have set one off.

    About 45 minutes later, a friend arrived at the property, whose first words were “did you see that meteorite!” , he had seen it while driving through the Capertee Valley, and had had an uninterrupted view of it – he also said it was red and green.

    I rang the Sydney Observatory on sunday, and the woman said that there had been a few sightings of this meteorite over Sydney.

    I am fairly sure that it (or a part of it) landed fairly close to us in an adjacent gully, as when I saw it, it had been below the cliffline. I was a bit concerned, in case these things can start bushfires ? All in all an amazing sighting – we will have to go exploring in the near future to see if we can find any sign or remnant of it.

  • I live in Miranda in the Sutherland Shire. At approximately 6.30pm during sunset I was looking out my upstairs lounge room window towards the north when I observed an intense white light with a long tail traveling at extreme speed from west to east at a declination of approximatly 60 degrees. My first sighting was at an angle of about 20 degrees so the time of viewing was brief around 3 or 4 seconds.

  • When out walking this evening in Bentleigh Victoria, at 8.27 pm 14 October we saw a large green light which we took to be fireworks above the city of Melbourne around 12 kms away and in the NNW. The ball plummeted to the horizon (obscured by house roofs) and appeared to break up with a green tail. It was quite fast and coming in at an angle from the NNW to the N of around 27 degrees. My husband is an astronomer and said immediately – it is a meteorite and the tail is copper or it could be space junk. There was a definite trail of debris. It was as big as a large firework. We saw it for at least a couple of seconds and got a chance to look at it. It was no flash in the sky. The sky was very clear with a thin moon off to the left of the object around 90 degrees or so. The other major stars were clearly to be seen. This was much bigger than a star.

  • During the course of early this year (and if I recall correctly, throughout the last couple of years) I have witnessed a planet/moon-like movement in the night sky.

    I have no doubts it is easily explained, and my reason for contributing here is simply for satisfying my curiosity by finding an answer.

    I live in the Ryde area and have good views across the horizon featuring Homebush on the left, Silverwater (and those refineries) in the centre and whatever other suburban vista to the right.

    From the top view of my window at approximately 9pm on the nights this has occurred, I have witnessed what I thought was the moon making its way slowly through the sky.

    I made nothing of this initially, and dismissed interest in it.
    Until, for a period of about a week or more, every night, I saw this “moon” – which is much larger than that the actual moon, much brighter and more crisp yellow-white rather than the white-grey of the moon – appear at the top of my window view and within the space of 2 hours completely disappear over the horizon.

    To the best of my recollection, the “moon” appeared to go through phases ie quarter, new, etc. (My memory is a bit fuzzy on that detail.)

    Then, one night, while the “moon” was doing what it does, I went to the back door, which looks toward the city side and north ryde area, and there it was – the moon… THE moon, sitting high in the night sky – just like normal.

    So, can someone tell me what planetary activity has been happening in the night sky?
    What have I been seeing?
    I haven’t seen the activity in a while and as best as I can recall, most of the activity was in or around May, or earlier.

    I’d really value some input, and if it helps please email me at twohandsdancing@hotmail.com

    Many thanks,

  • On the morning of October 6th 2007 at 1:30 AM in the sky above Saxonburg PA a star expaned to the size of a softball and then colapsed to a dim point.Through the binoculars I seen colorful rings pulsating from the object. It now resembles a dim star.

  • On Monday 8/10 about 9.25pm, seen from Berowra, a long, fat, fiery white streak heading from due west at about 50 degrees above the horizon to below the horizon to the WSW. Transit time about 5 seconds.

  • On Monday 8th October at approx 9.26pm i was driving through castle hill facing north west when i saw i big fluro green light in the sky.. It was too big too be a star and too fast to be a plane!! It looked like it was heading down towards the earth but then all of a sudden it disappeard like a “zap”, it didn’t fade out like a fire work or flare would… It also had no trail of colour behind it.. I’d be very interested to know what it was!!

  • Hello Tania. You don’t say where you were or in which direction you were looking. I assume though that you were looking west, in which case what you saw was an aeroplane vapour trail backlit by the setting Sun.

  • On Monday afternoon approximately 5pm I saw a light falling towards earth.It had a very long tail and was pale yellow with a slight tinge of orange.
    We first thought it was a sign writing plane but the line was too solid and it did look far away.
    The angle was approx 60 degrees.It took 2/3 minutes to disappear into clouds on the horizon.
    I would like to know what it was and I have photos if anyone is interested.

  • Last night 9th October 2007 at around 9.10pm i say a large object with a tail of coloured flame {blue and orange}. This object was seen from Liechhardt, Sydney looking west at around 40 degrees.

  • On Saturday 6th October 2007, I was in the backyard of a friend in the Northern Brisbane suburb of Kallangur. I was looking up at the clear night sky between 1830 and 1930 hours Australian Eastern Standard Time and looking in a Westerly direction, when I clearly saw what looked like a meteor with two bright tails heading across the sky from East to West. The elevation was fairly high, approximately 60 to 70 degrees, it was visible for about three seconds, and it diminished as it moved to the West. This was the brightest meteorite I have seen, and I have seen many over my 50 plus years. It seemed much lower and closer to Earth, as it appeared larger than any previous sighting I had made. There was no moon visible in the sky at the time, and the sky was dark and very clear, with just a few wispy clouds to the South West. I had not seen a meteorite for a few years, so I was delighted to have had such a clear view of this one. I was with some friends, but by the time they looked up after I cried out in wonder and told them, they missed it. Did anyone else observe this same phenomena, and was an official observation made?

  • Hello Joel. Your description sounds like that of an Iridium flare – a flash of sunlight reflected briefly in your direction by one of the constellation of Iridium satellites. These flashes can be bright and spectacular. They are also predictable – check out http://www.calsky.com to see if an Iridium flash was expected in your part of Wisconsin at that time.

    Hello Sam Cookson. Most likely you were looking at an aeroplane vapour trail backlit by the setting Sun.

  • On Saturday, October 6, 2007 I went outside to view the International Space Station go overhead. I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. It went over my location at 7:42 PM local time. The sky was very clear. It went over from southwest to northeast. Just after it passed overhead, (straight up and about 15 degrees to the north) I saw a light that was almost as bright as the ISS at about 45 degrees up from the northern horizon. It quickly dimmed to just a faint light. I’m wondering if anyone else saw it or if someone might know what it was? (Supernova, or whatever.) Joel.

  • On thursday 4th October 2007 at about 5.30pm (sun was just about to set), I was driving back from Canberra with my mum and 2 kids and we were just coming into Braidwood – we looked up and saw a bright white trail of light in the western sky which started quite small (inlength) and then became much longer over a period of about 5-10 minutes. It semed to be almost completely horizontal. It didn’t move up down, left or right in the sky – remained pretty much stable in position, but seemed to ‘grow’ in length (not width). After about 10 minutes of wathcing this whiteish, yellowish trail, it appeared to break in half and then seemed to begin to disintegrate. Some 15-20 mins later the clear ‘line’ had been replaced by a smokey trail in the sky which just seemed to hang there… we’ve no idea what it was. Did anyone else see it and have any idea what it might be?

  • Excuse me, but did anyone see a fiery ball lighting up the sky, traveling east by northeast at supersonic speed, up the east coast of the U.S., dropping from the sky then hugging the horizon, just north of Fernandina Beach, Florida?

    If you saw it, it was beautiful and eerie, with a golden ball of fire, turning aqua-green towards the rear, with a long golden kite-like tail, sending flashes through the cloudy rain-soaked sky; and completely silent.

    It was as if one could reach up and touch it, and it wanted to be seen.

    Although it seemed to be a huge meteorite, it wasn’t; it seemed to be man-made and on a recon mission; because it flew through and over sensitive military terrain.

    Anyway … investigate and report your findings, because I saw it and it has changed my life, in an instant, where it said to me through telepathy, that, men should not fight, because we are all brothers, and it wants total peace in the world.

    When the thing flew over me on October 5, 2007, at 2:30 AM Eastern Time (USA), it gave me the sense, that, it wanted to tell you, that, all men are brothers, for real.

    I am not kidding. I think it was GOD. 🙂

    Later, flowwolf

  • I also saw the meteor (didn’t know what to call it until i found this site) on Oct 2 somewhere between 9:30 and 10pm.
    Standing on St. Georges Rd in North Fitzroy waiting for a tram when a very bright greenish coloured streak shot across the sky to the north east but closer to the east. was beautiful, i’ver never seen anything like it. the streak lasted in the sky for 10-15mins. there was a couple kissing eachother right next to me when it happened and when i asked if they saw it they looked at me like i was crazy. too bad for them, would’ve been quite romantic.
    the most intriguing thing for me was the distance it ostensibly covered in such a short time – must have been travelling at an incredible speed although it looked so close to the earth.. awesome!!

  • last night 2-10-07 i was outside having a cigarette i was looking to the south at about 45degrees when i saw this beautiful meteor . i live in somerville on the mornington peninsula vic on a farm so i have no light pollution it was so bright that i could see my own shadow cast on the ground and all of my horses in the ajcent paddocks. the tail for want of a better word was a beautiful emerald green and left a smoke trail that was visable for 10 minutes after the enitial flash, the noise of it could also be clearly heard as it ripped through the atmosphere it sounded like a boat flare burning thats about as close a sound that it conjures up. something i will never forget.
    cheers, Matt Patterson

  • I was driving home last night from Mansfield Vic to Booralite heading south about 9-45pm when the whole sky from horizon to horizon went a greeny blue colour. The sky was clear and there were no clouds, it looked fantastic and scary at the same time, the colour change was followed by a huge glowing comet with a wide long tail flowing a shower of orange. It lasted for about three to five seconds, it was awsome, the most stunning thing I have seen. As it is very dark along the Woods point jamieson road at night the view was fantastic.

  • Thank you for all who reported on their sighting of the bright streak over Melbourne last night (October 2) at about 9:48 pm. It was presumably a piece of rock from space, the size of a potato or larger, that had hit the Earth’s atmosphere. Sightings of a bright meteor are referred to as a fireball or as a bolide. If some fragment of it survives the scorching journey through the atmosphere and hits the ground it becomes a meteorite. As this one was moving north to south any fragment is likely to have landed in the ocean. There is a brief article at http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/10/03/1191091123285.html

    Nikki you were looking at the planet Venus – see my reply to Vivian V.

  • 3rd of October 2007, about 9.45pm, Endeavour Hills, Melbourne, Victoria

    Have been searching everywhere to find reporting on this, couldn’t find anything but this website.

    Same as what everyone has explained;

    I was in my backyard when suddenly a bright, light fluro purple light lit the whole neibourhood (similar to police helicopter spot light). I immediately turned around & looked up to see a massive shooting star cutting across the sky. All I can remember seeing is the head of the shooting star running across, & & leaving a bright white trail behind, followed by smoke trail that lasted for a few second. The best way I can explain what I saw was like someone slashed the black sky open. It was so bright it lit the ground & surroundings up. Definately a once in a lifetime experience.

  • Re: Vivian V comments

    “For the past few mornings at about 4:30am i’ve spotted this very bright star looking object( East from Cabramatta area Sydney)so this morning at 4:40am i used a pair of Binoculars and looked at the object. It was a very bright orange colour and it was shaped like a crescent. What was it that i saw?”

    I woke up on the 27th at 4:20am and saw the exact same thing: an enlarged bright star over the east coast of collaroy!!

    I watched the star until it vanished at 6:20am. All other stars disappeared at 6:10am

    What was this star?? it was very low in the sky, very bright & very large..

  • I was driving home from university late tonight and was close to my house in Glen Waverley at approx. 9.45 when the sky lit up to be pale blue. I expected it to be like a lightening flash however the brighteness lasted far longer than anything I had experienced so I slowed the car and glanced out the windown, to see a low flying fireball, no more than 45 degrees to the horizon (even less because I was on a hill), shoot straight past and I was waiting for a huge explosion. Thankfully, it must have disintegrated. But the ball was orange in colour followed by long bright yellow tail. Once out of sight (prolly only after 2 seconds max), the path that was taken could be clearly seen due to a black line of smoke which was left behind. It seemed only a few hundred metres above the ground, as if it was at a light planes’ altitude, even less. It was a clear sky with no clouds, and stars could be seen perfectly. But it was definately not something occuring far up into space, but rather closer to the ground that it was frightening. I was driving at the time towards NorthEast, and the fireball went perpendicular to my path. So I guess that makes it heading in a North Westerly direction, towards the city.

  • hi again i just wanted to add that Simon your explanation is exactly what i saw,

    i was looking at the ground at the time and my friends started screaming, the whole ground lit up and i thought spotlights were on us!

    and a massive amazingly bright blue and yellow ball of energy silently shot over our heads.

    it changed colours from blue to purle to green and the size and brightness of it is completely unbelievable.

    i thought it was a firework or flare for a second but soon saw the utter size and brightness of it. it lasted for about 4 seconds and left a trail of light in the sky for about 10 seconds after it.

    i didnt hear any explosion as it must have been disintergrating?

    i am desperate for an explanation!

    absoloutely amazingggggg

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