Observations

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

4,707 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • Dear Nick,

    it appears that I have seen the same flashing object as Darren M.
    On Saturday night 29 Dec, about 10.00PM I received a phone call from a friend at Woodford in the Blue Mountains who was watching a “flashing” light in the northern skies.
    We (I was at Bathurst)both then continued to observe the light for some 15 minutes, after which the flashing appeared to have ceased.

    We looked again (from Bathurst) on 30th (not visible), 31st (not visible, but we were in well lit surrounds), and last night 1st Jan when the flashing light was again observed and clearly visible from about 10.00 PM until 10.15PM.

    The location of the light was about a palm width (fully extended arm) above Aldebaran (and a bit to the right) in the Taurus constellation – say at about 50 deg elevation.

    On the 29th it did not appear to change location, but may have moved about in the same area on the 1st.
    The flash varied in intensity on both evenings from a clear flash as though a shutter had opened and closed to a lesser visible flash.

    Best regards,
    John Shield

  • This object was observed between 21.00-22.00 on Saturday 29th Dec 2007 from Colyton in Western Sydney. It was in the NW sky at approx 50 degrees altitude and was observed to flash periodically. It was roughly one flash every 5-10 sec. Not an aircraft as I looked through my binoculars, more the same height as a passing satellite, magnitude about 3 and like a camera flash. Object appeared to be geo-stationary. First time observed and not an iridium flare. Clear conditions. I am thinking some low-mass space junk. Any other ideas?

  • I was at Woolgoolga (about 20km north of Coffs Harbour NSW) on Friday night and hoped to see something from the Geminids. Prior to about 1am I spotted 3 shooting stars moving north to south, but only one was bright and lasted any length of time. Unfortunately it then clouded over putting a stop to any further viewing.

  • Saturday 15th 2am – 4am we watched the North/East sky for the Geminids (at 45degrees) – we counted 64 ‘shooting stars’ heading West. Some were spectacular with tails, others were quite faint and very fast. We were watching from Arcadia NSW and it was was a great show!

  • Hi, this morning I watched the sky for several periods of up to ten minutes from 2.30am to 3.50 am. I sighted a total of around 6 or 7 meteors during this time. They were fast and not lengthy and were mostly travelling from north to south in the western sky. Some were low down and others 45 and 60 degrees high. I suspect they were associated with Geminids. I learned of this event on the radio as I travelled to work. All in all not as spectacular as I had hoped but nonetheless it was great to see the number I did. I was at Redfern and the city lights probably thwarted the sighting of many more.
    Cheers.

  • At 3.31pm Sat 15 Dec 2007 whilst laying on beach at Broadbeach Qld I noticed a jet stream high in the sky just right ie south of me. The jet (unseen) was in a trajectory heading north.I looked for the aircraft ahead of the jet stream which had terminated. I could not find the aircraft. Whilst searching i noticed a bright star like object – it was the shape and intensity of a bright star at night – but this was daylight. Clear blue sky, the object was pretty much directly above ( say 80 degrees) but below and to the left (north) of the terminated jet stream.
    My wife who was laying on the beach beside me saw the object too after I said to her – ‘look up directly above, can you see anything, like something bright?’ She pin pointed it almost instantly We then both watched it.
    First I thought it was the aircraft reflecting light from the sun but it was not moving. then slowly it moved, slightly erratic ie up (west) and down (east). then it moved across the sky below the cresent moon which was directly above it. The track was north. It was not fast – just a slow movement
    We both watched its movement for about 6 minutes – my wife could see it longer than me as i lost it from my vision
    It tracked a distance of my full 2 hand spans across the sky in the time we observed it.
    It was consistently bright, quite a sharp but pin point intensity.
    The sky was blue, largley free of cloud. The temp was about 26 C, the wind was ENE
    Neither of us have seen nor reported such an observation before.

  • Hi, at about 12:30am this morning I saw a large white ball racing across the sky heading from North to west. It changed to a vibrant blue colour, back to white, then after disappearing behind my neighbours roof there was an explosion of light visible where it was last seen over the top of the roof. I am in Kurunjang, Victoria, was facing north and saw it north/west of my position. The sky in that direction seemed clear. Did anyone else see it? As a rediculous coincidence I took a photo of my house a year ago to the day, and looking back at the photo there was an image of what i think may have been a meteorite, there were reportings that night!

  • 06 December, 2007

    Sighting from Drouin, Victoria. Large fireball which crossed half the expanse of the sky – kept flaring up then fading, flaring up, fading as it travelled slowly across the sky. Spellbinding 🙂

    Jacqueline

  • PS:
    Time: 9.00 pm to 12.00 pm.

    Direction I was looking: 90 degrees.

    It was east, in Melbourne.

    It was a perfectly clear day.

    And I think we saw Mars.

    Thankyou!

  • On December 1st to December 3rd, i was stargazing in Melbourne, and my family and I witnessed a fast moving star-looking object (with no tail or colors) moving in a straight line. Thinking it was a satellite of some kind, I didnt think much. But then we saw about 15 more of these fast moving stars going in all sorts of directions, still in perfect straight lines. These unidentified objetcs, did not look like anything I had ever seen! Please let me know what it might be.

  • On Sat 30th Nov 2007 my husband and I were driving home through Rosewhite and looking north east towards Dederang Vic Australia about 10 20pm and saw a very bright light which looked to me like a huge star falling straight towards the ground from about 45degrees. It was very quick we thought it was a shooting star but it didnt trail away it seemed as bright the whole way down til it dissapeared on the horizon, no idea what it was but assume it was a meteor of some sort that could have hit the ground. Very awesome. Anyone else see what i did?

  • I heard a noise outside at 2.30am went to investigate and heard some cats fighting next door.

    I looked up at the moon and saw some chem trails a plane had left behind but the weird thing was a strange blue planet looking object up there…

    I grabbed my camera to take some shots and I managed to get 2 pretty good ones,
    I added the extra shots in for perspective as i was trying to focus my camera on the area as best i could, so Picture 8 and 9 you can see the blueness in the area where it is –
    but pictures 2 and 3 show the mysterious object best..

    is it a planet?
    is it earth reflection on the atmosphere?

    either way a UFO of some kind

    any help on the subject would be great…

    thanks
    Blun

    http://s215.photobucket.com/albums/cc122/blunner/

  • Hello Kurtis. I have no idea what you were looking at – maybe fireworks? However, there was a lot of activity in Sydney’s sky on the evening of Sunday 18 January at about 9:30 pm. At 9:20 pm and 42 seconds there was an Iridium flash high in the eastern sky. A few minutes later the International Space Station appeared in the WSW at 9:24 pm and reached its brightest (brighter than Jupiter had been earlier in the evening) in the WNW at 9:28 pm. And, of course, the first quarter Moon was high in the western sky.

    Lill: I am a little sceptical of your sighting being a Leonid as the radiant, the part of the sky from which the meteors appear to come, did not rise above the horizon until 2:30am, which makes your sighting a little early to be likely.

  • 18/11/2007
    Narrabeen Lake, Sydney.
    Approximately 9:30pm – looking in a NW direction (towards Narrabeen headland)
    From about 20 degrees through to about 120 degrees.
    I n a SW direction on a clear night with light cloud cover.

    A bright object seemed to ascend from the ground or ocean from behind Narrabeen headland, it travelled at a steady (but not very fast) pace and flew up into the sky at an unknown height, then continued to fly in a Southern direction.
    Following this first ‘fireball’ another four rose up at seperate intervals, each travelling in the same direction, at the same speed.
    The objects were rounded in shape and had an orange-red tinge, in the distance (South) they looked like moving stard before they dissapeared from view.
    The ufo’s made a faint roaring sound like a hot-air balloon as thy passed overhead.
    Observed with five friends and many members of the public.
    Moon and stars were visible.

  • I have my own answer – the Leonids meteor shower. Guess if I had been out of the city I might have seen more and clicked. Lucky spotting.

  • On morning of 18 Nov 2007, somewhere between 0100-0130 hours myself and friends witnessed a bright yellow / red light travel downwards in shooting star fashion from East to West direction. In the night sky it appeared at incoming air traffic level over the Balmain, Sydney area. It took approx 5 seconds to fade from eyesight, long enough for all of us to say “What tha!” and stare in awe. Any word on what it was?

  • Claymore 2559
    14/11/07 11:40pm
    looking north north west
    Trees about 100m away. Looking above them
    Watched it for about 3 mins
    The object was movin up down round and round, all over the place
    It was cloudy
    Strange object changing size and shape making strange maneuvers. The one contstant was it orangy color before it shot off at warp speed in a north north west direction.
    What the hell was that thing

  • – Where you were
    West Pymble

    – The time
    Approx 8.55 – 9.10 PM Monday 12th November 2007

    – The direction you were looking (north, east, south, west or in-between)
    East

    – How high up you were looking (horizon is 0° elevation, half way up is 45° and directly overhead is 90°)
    50 – 60°

    – How long you saw the object
    Only a few seconds

    – The direction the object was moving
    NNE-ish

    – Whether it was clear or cloudy
    Clear

    – Whether you could see the Moon or Venus or any other astronomical object
    Nope

    – Describe what you saw
    Was stopped at the traffic lights when I saw this illuminated object zip past in the sky.
    shooting star I guess =]

  • NOVEMBER 10 2007 – TAMPA FLORIDA 9.00PM LOOKING EAST AT 60 DEGREES THE NIGHT WAS CLEAR. I OBSERVED A FAINT REDISH ORANGE LIGHT TO HIGH TO BE AN AIRCRAFT. I THOUGHT IT WAS A ROCKET FROM THE CAPE AT FIRST, BUT IT WAS NOT MOVING NOR WAS IT BRIGHT ENOUGH IT GREW BRIGHTER AND BRIGHTER TO A ROMAN CANDEL RED. MUCH BRIGHTER THAN MARS IT STAYED THIS WAY FOR ABOUT 5 MINUTES APROX.. THEN STARTED TO DIM BACK TO REDISH ORANGE THEN ALMOST YELLOW THEN FADED OUT TO BLACK NEVER MOVING. I NEVER SAW IT AGAIN. I CHECKED NASA’S WEB SITE NO LAUNCHES REPORTED. SOMEBODY KNOWS WHAT IT WAS MAYBE THEY CAN ENLIGHTEN ME!

  • Hello Colette. You seem to be observing the planets Venus and Jupiter at various times and assuming that they are the one object. The colours you when they are low in the sky are due to the atmosphere and occur with any bright object. Venus is currently visible in the mornings in the east while Jupiter can be seen in the evenings in the west. Look for them and enjoy them – there is no reason for you or anyone else to be concerned about seeing planets in the sky.

  • I live in the west of Ireland. During the months of May and June this year I saw a star like object in the night sky which was the biggest in the sky. It was in the North East. This ‘star’ was flashing orange and green, quite visible to the naked eye and huge through binoculars [x50]. What is it? This was the first time I witnessed it, but a neighbour has watched it from rising around Christmas time, to it’s disappearance around October. It travel a little each night, starting at Christmas in the North West above Kilronan Mountain and moving/rising slowly until it reaches the North East/high in the sky/October. The colours at the start of its’ journey are red and blue, changing to green and orange, flashing on/off like car lights. Others here have witnessed it and we all feel uneasy to see it. What is it?

  • Tonight at around 6pm while still daylight I was in Innisfail NQ facing roughly nth,nth east at around 30o and I saw what seemed to be a fireball but it was punctuated by two explosions after each of these the fireball altered direction slightly and then dissapeared leaving only a trail of smoke and two puffs where the explosions occured. It was all over rather quickly probably not more than a couple of seconds. It appeared to me to be at a point in the sky where you might expect to see a jet vapour trail or at that height if you know what I mean.

  • Peter Fontaine reported the following sighting on Sunday, 21 October 2007 at 7:41 pm:

    I just spotted a meteor travelling from west to east (travelling from right to left as I looked up in the sky). The event was all over in a couple of seconds (if that), obviously travelling at a huge speed. It was a fireball, and I saw it extremely clearly. From where I was standing it seem to come from the direction of Venus, and headed east. In terms of brightness it would have been 25-30 times the size of the light generated by Venus, and seem to have a light trail, which lasted only a fraction of a second. There was no sound, and it was impossible for me to determine how far away it was.

    It appeared to travel at angle of about 10-15 degrees to the horizon. I was looking up to the event at angle of about 25 degrees.

    I live in Cheltenham, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

    I have never seen anything travelling that fast before.

    I saw it very clearly, as the night sky was extremly clear. The light from it appeared to stop abruptly. The colour of the light was a brilliant white/creamy colour.

    I guessed that if it was a meteor, it would land in the Tasman Sea or even New Zealand – it was so fast!

    Hope this helps!

  • Leonie Barron sent the following to another blog (presumably by accident) at the Powerhouse Museum:

    “On Saturday, 20th October 2007 between 10.30 & 12 midnight I was sitting on the lounge talking to my friend and I was looking out through the large window facing southeast in the country area of Mt. Burrell. I saw a large circular ball of light traveling from east to west high above the gum trees at the front of the house. The ball of light was surrounded by sparkles. It was in my view for three seconds and then disappeared. I rang the Sydney Observatory and after describing this object was told it was a meteor (bolloid), it had no tail. If I had drawn a circle on the window it would have been between 3 to 4 inches.”

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