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

4,790 responses to “Lights in the sky

  • Just double checking my star walk app, but is that Corona Borealis in the north-east direction about 30deg. from the horizon 4am?

    Saw it on the 18th Feb, couldnt verify today as it was cloudy.

    It seemed like the brightest object for a sydney sky apart from the full moon.

    • Yanko, Your app should show that Corona Borealis is at about 15-18 degrees above the NE horizon at 04:00am on the 18th Feb. At that time the brightest object after the Moon should be Venus, very low on the eastern horizon. The next brightest object was Jupiter at 30-degrees above due east. Perhaps it is the combination of Venus, Saturn and the stars of Sagittarius that have caught your attention – see our Facebook post of 18 Feb 2019?

  • Between nightfall and around 7.30 pm tonight I witnessed a strange light in the sky. I was sitting on my patio on 68 Stanhill Drive, Chevron Island, Gold Coast Queensland. A friend of mine, Sue Minturn, exclaimed,
    “ What is that light in the sky?”
    She had seen a “ white light” descend rapidly vertically across the face of Sirius. Responding to her, I picked up what appeared to me as a constant orange dot descending as rapidly as a falling star in a perfect vertical trajectory down the evening sky in line with Sirius. The object continued in this way as I managed to capture it on my smartphone. Not long after this we picked up another orange non flashing light dot, running perpendicular to the first in horizontal equivalence to the moon.
    Neither light flashed and the second light seemed much slower than the first. Neither light flashed and neither had any tail of any kind. The date was 18/01/19

  • I saw 3 lines like Aeroplane vapour trail, but its was purple in colour at the time of 5:50 AM . And the lines were not close to each other . The direction was 115° E
    10°12’58″N 76°16’57″E on the date of 3 january 2019. At the place Mala in Thrissur district in Kerala,India.
    There was moon of waning cresent phase.
    And some stars . Moon and one star looks like symbol of muslims some logo ( sorry I don’t know how to explain it)
    And there was some stars and I dont know wether it was a satellite or not .

  • 24/12/2018 2am AEDT (approx), Otway Ranges Southwest Victoria, Australia.

    Walked outside and a very bright moving object caught my eye. At an elevation of around 40 degrees looking to the South I saw a moving bright patch which looked like a comet with a bright nucleus and bright white V shaped trail fanning out behind it (ie. < ). The V shape would have been roughly the width of the moon in terms of how big it appeared in the sky. It was moving in the direction of the Pointers, SE about the velocity of a high orbit satellite (perhaps one third to one quarter the speed the ISS appears to move across the sky).

    The bright point at the apex appeared to gradually move away from the cloud/trail and faded to a dull pinpoint within a minute or so, passing just below the bottom pointer as it moved toward the horizon to the South East. It was followed by two cloudy areas which appeared to be what the V shaped trail had morphed into (one moon shaped/sized cloud followed by a large arc of diffused pale white-ish mist). Was a clear sky so the cloudy areas were definitely vapour related to the object. From the time I first saw it until the time it had faded too much to see any longer was about 5-6 minutes. Faded out heading toward the South East around 10 degrees.

    First thought was it might have been a very near earth asteroid or a satellite burning up without fragmenting. Did an online search and found others had reported the same from South Australia at 1:30 am (which fits in with the timezone). There are photos and video on an Adelaide based news website which reported it. Falcon 9 launch had been put forward as a possibility but no confirmation.

    Could the Space X launch or any ejected bits of rocket have passed this low over the Southern Hemisphere or might this be something unrelated? Pretty impressive sight. I shot some video but missed the best/brightest bit at the beginning as my big clumsy thumb couldn't find the camera record button in the dark -dammit!

    • We saw it too, in Mount Gambier, South Aus. Your description is so perfect, could not have been anything else. While the fading pinpoint was eventually no longer visible to the naked eye, my phone camera screen still clearly showed it up until it went below the horizon, yet filming and still photos showed nothing.

    • Surprised there was no television news media coverage of this one as it was very bright and hung in the sky for a significant time – must have been witnessed by a lot more people than the few who managed to snap pictures. Below is a link to only news article I could find relating to the sighting. The video and pictures taken by separate people in South Australia are very good and show the same object I observed from SW Vic very clearly.

      Any comments from the resident astronomer?

      “Strange, unidentified light seen over South Australia”


      • Just an afterthought – wondering if the launch of the Chinese craft that landed on the far side of the moon may be in any way related. No mention of a Chinese rocket launch in the above media article, only Space X.

    • Just noticed my follow up post was removed for some reason. Assuming it may have been due to pasting a direct link to a news website.

      Without posting either a direct link or the article title, for anyone interested in finding the article use the search terms “ufo south australia christmas eve”.

      There is good quality video and pictures shot by several different people across South Australia.

      In the deleted post I also noted that I thought it was odd this sighting wasn’t given wider coverage (not a nod on television news as far as I’m aware). Given how vivid it appeared, the festive time of year, mild weather and clear skies many people must have seen this also.

      Any comments from any of the resident astronomers? Would like to get to the bottom of the Space X theory or if this object appears unrelated.

  • 9/12/2018 @ 9.39PM
    Hampton Park-Vic, Aust
    Cloudy evening. Vivid sunset full of oranges, pinks hours earlier. No Moon visible.
    Looking SW-WSW & Approx 15-25°

    Started by hearing pulsating booms loud enough to be heard indoors (similar to thunder but reverberated longer & more frequently)
    Ventured out to take a look & accompanying the sound were feint large red ‘flashes’ lasting milliseconds

    The noise lasted 10 minutes straight but the red flashes occurred at roughly 15-30 second intervals (captured one on video but not as vivid as with naked eye- and even then, unless you were looking in the general direction the flashes weren’t vivid enough to catch your attention)
    Red flashes were stationary & didn’t resemble lightning strikes. They were rounded in shape, similar to the glow of an angels halo?! That’s the only way I could describe it!

    Did anyone else see this/know what it could be?

  • last night from 7.30 pm i saw 2 green lights flashing in the north eastern sky from herveybay, last time i checked at 9.30 pm they were still there in the same spot flashing randomly. every now and then the left on seemed to move slightly. i am wondering if we where the only ones to see them?

  • December the 5th 2018 at 5.35am at Port Augusta regional South Australia. Just began walking our dog down the beach when directly overhead caught a sudden flash, this flash appeared to be in the earth lower orbit or even higher (unsure). I pointed the flash position to my wife who also observed this now erratic pulsing and fading flashing object, (small white circular) Now i regularly go out of my way to observe
    the ISS and have a basic understanding of satellite characteristics and space junk re-entry etc. However this object began to move at phenomenol speed then change direction laterally and began flashing and fading in and out again whilst changing position. I could only find its position once it began sporadic flashes or blinks. This changing of position DID NOT happen in a straight line. Object eventually travelled east towards the rising sun which was still below the horizon. Sky at the time had a Waning cresent moon accompanied with what i think is Venus in the East above Flinders Ranges. Any response would be greatly appreciated. Regards.

  • Thunder Bay, ON. Canada. Sunday Nov 25th, 2018.
    Coloured stationary flashing object appeared about 350 degrees northwest of location approximately 35-40 degrees elevation. Spotted at 11:35 pm local time. Watched object for approximately 15-20 minutes. It remained stationary. Not an aircraft, not a star or planet.

  • November 16 2018 7:35pm Birkdale
    Night sky observer as I enjoy watching the planes by day and night as there regular route for aircraft:helicopters crosses above our residence daily , and the airport direction is north from us .Notice a Bright flash of light yellowish orange heading towards the direction of Thornside/Lota Wynnum area ,above Moreton bay waters Wondering if anyone had noticed it was like a fireball quite noticeable no tail burst through the air for 7 sec not like a shooting star as it was closer to the ground like when planes fly in to land, disappears into the clouds, never seen anything like it. Wondering if anyone had seen it

  • 27/11/18 Approx 12.05am, Darley, Vic.
    Burst of bright white light originating from & roughly the size (maybe bigger) of the moon followed by a very very fast moving thick blue stripe (like a jet cigarette lighter flame) which travelled from the center of the sky roughly 45degree angle down to the horizon in approx 1-2 seconds. light originating in middle of sky and travelling southerly direction.

    Havent seen any acknowledgement or confirmation of activity on web or news sites, which i feel is sort of strange, given how bright and incredibly breathtaking this was

  • At approximately 21:16 AEST, 15 Nov 18 in Berwick Vic, Australia, I was looking at the night sky when I saw a bright flash of light just to the right of Canopus. I appeared to quickly fade in, flash bright, as bright, if not brighter than Canopus, then quickly fade out over a period of less than a second. I thought I was seeing things, then it flashed again. I would estimate it was tracking from south to north. It continued to flash about every 14 seconds and its velocity seemed constant. I could only see it when it flashed. I lost sight of it to the north east horizon and it took over 2 minutes to traverse my area of view. Probably about 10 flashes in all.
    A tumbling satellite???

  • Maroubra/ Malabar sky at 830pm Looking east a light was steadily moving towards Coogee. Steady speed maintained with no acceleration.

  • Orange NSW 9.00pm 4/11/18
    I have noticed a fuzz ball just above Saturn near the teapot, can you identfy this for me please.

    • Shane, I assume you are using binoculars, unless you have very good eyes and it was very dark at the time. You have discovered M22 (Messier 22, sometimes called the Sagittarius cluster or Sagittarius globular cluster). It is a beautiful globular cluster of stars — a large ball-shaped group of hundreds of thousands of stars which are typically several times older than our Sun. Its one of the brightest and closest globular clusters to our solar system. Along with 47-Tuc and Omega Centauri it is one the best globular clusters to view – and all three are best viewed from the southern hemisphere!

  • Mannarkkad,Kerala,India
    7:32 PM IST..2:30pm GST
    NorthWest 50° 27/10/2018
    Partially cloudy atmosphere
    A sudden bright flash appeared
    for a second and saw something moving on side
    The sky had mars , no moon.

  • Capalaba. Brisbane. Qld.
    Looking West.
    (Always see planes taking off from and approaching airport so know it wasn’t a normal plane)
    1915 hrs 26th Oct.
    Mostly clear night some high clouds. It was under these.
    One smallish lower darker cloud.
    White light, object streaked south over Brisbane best guess it was travelling 187 degrees south, parallel to the horizon at an angle up of 43 degrees from my position. Came into Field of view at 269 degrees W, lost sight as it entered small lower dark cloud at 228 degrees SW. Never came out other side. Took at a guess 2.5 seconds to cross this distance. Easily 5 or more times the speed of planes I see. No Tail, No other lights. Just one steady white light

  • I live in Forster on the mid north coast NSW at about 9pm my husband and I noticed a red and green flashing light low in the sky, and we noticed it was moving very slowly. As we were looking up in the sky we saw more (approximately 8 altogether) and one was a bright gold colour. They were all flashing green and red and they were all moving slowing. I checked again at 11pm and they were all still there just in slightly different spots. We have never seen anything like it before. It is a clear night with a full moon. Would you be able to let me know what they could be.
    Thank You

    • Belinda, the flashing red & green lights could be the navigation lights on aircraft. But I’m not sure why aircraft would stay in one area for two hours. Perhaps another reader has some idea?

    • So it was about dec 12th early hrs of the morning I was at a lookout looking over macksville it was all valley.. and u r describing what I seen there that morning.. red green and bright lights they changed coulor and would go down into the bushes n they were everywhere I’d say about 20 moving in the valley and about 50 stationed all around..
      I’m on this site because I seen the same lights at warrah trig last sat morning on the water n in the bush.. something is going on.. and these light can move erratically..

  • Lake Mendocino Dam Mendocino County California, Sunday October 7th 2018. My vantage point was from a small ridge that connects the dam to an island on the southwest side of the lake. i was about 50 feet below the top of the dam…my view facing south looks past the maintenance tower of the dam and there is a hill that obstructs any view past the south shore that becomes clear at approximately 55degrees. The sun had gone from my view as it was blocked by the dam to the west but its rays were still hitting the treetops and illuminating the people walking on top of the dam. Directly in front of me at about 20degrees i see what i think is a massive swarm of insects sort of hanging in a dripping formation around a bright white light with trees behind it..then i realize theres no pole and this light is moving at a little better than slow northward and dropping which puts it on a path that will either hit me or drag what is now obviously some sort of liquid vapor..colorless but illuminated by both the light and the suns rays that are hitting the top portion ..it looks like the sky is torn open and this light is intensifying .. i yell to the people on the dam and point it out.. they look down at it and begin to scream and point.. i head up the side of the dam and turn to see that just as the sun sets this light begins to rise and reverse direction and seems to propel southward while drifting westward and the vapor no longer seems to droop but it now appears to be expanding..then the light seems to press through the blue sky and vanish and the vapor continues to expand til its no longer visible. I am aware of the rocket activity on this day in southern california but i believe the rocket activity was at 7:30 pm and by that time the suns rays would not have been visible and the first 4 to 5 minutes of this event happened with trees and a grassy hill behind it..there is no visible southern path til my eyes are at about the 60degree point..so the southern california rocket launch activity is not a feasable explanation from my vantage point at all. it just wouldnt work from my original position..and the hanging vapor was obviously making contact with the surface of the lake and i distinctly remember leaving my position when this light passed the tower that was between me and the south shore of the lake.

  • 3:59a.m Massachuttes I’m looking up at the sky and all of a sudden a bright dot appeared. While still looking at this bright dot it would change to red, blue, green. It stayed in the same area and stayed still. Every 10 seconds it would show 3 dots than 2 than 1. Facing north. 4:01am it got really dim. So i know its not a plane.

  • I saw a light come down from the north it came down so fast to about tree top high and kinda hover for a second and that fast it was gone I saw it in Starks la.

  • September 30th between 8:30pm and 8:35pm in Greenup County Kentucky. I was looking at the stars and seen a very deem light moving from south to north through the middle of the shy from my point of view. It looked like a satellite which i see all the time. But this one would get bright about every 20 second’s, roughly counting. It only got bright for a second then deemed again for 20 seconds. Just a single white light. There was planes in the sky to so i know it wasn’t that. Planes have more than one light and they blink faster than the object i seen. I have seen when a satellite’s solar panels reflect light very brightly. It looked like that but like i said it was doing that every 20 seconds. Maybe it was a satellite that was tumbling end over end.

    • Matthew, Yes, it sounds just like a satellite, or more likely an old rocket body or other piece of space-junk, tumbling. These are quite common now.

  • On the 12/9/2018 i was sitting outside at about 8.10/8.15pm looking west at about 45° i seen a fairly big red/orange globe like thing flying through the night sky heading north.. was moving very fast onlybseen it for no more tgen 2 seconds. Wondering if anyone else seen this.. im in cowra n.s.w

    • Just last night, Sept 25th in Vancouver looking East at approximately 11pm, maybe a bit later from my door at the beautiful sky I saw a bright, bright orange light and it was moving and getting bigger. It was about 65-70 degrees and climbing. At first I thought it was moving west towards me as the light was increasing both in intensity, size and and in color. But as I watched I realized it was moving away. It was climbing higher and higher and all I could see was this intense bright orange light. Then it began to turn south towards the general direction of the moon. I noticed as it turned I could no longer see the big orange bright light, and I was thinking, okay it was an airplane and I kept watching it moving south, and I kept thinking something is odd or different about it. It took me a bit to realize that there were no visible lights at all once it turned south. Once it turned and I could no longer see the bright orange light the object looked quite transparent and I could barely make it out. As it moved farther and farther away south I could no longer make it out. I watched it for between 4-6 minutes total I believe. I wished I was more astute, but I really did think it was just an airplane at first. And I was doubting myself as I was watching this interesting thing in the sky. It was so transparent as it was heading south I do not know what shape it was. When one looks to the sky you know what an airplane looks like as you have seen it a few thousand times over. So the eye thinks airplane and wants to and expects to see the shape of an airplane. At this point I want to say that what i saw was the shape of an airplane as it was flying south and all I could see was a transparent profile. But I think my mind wanted to see the shape of an airplane, but what I saw I can only say for certain was transparent almost fog like as it was flying south. When it was going East when I first saw it, it was this huge intense bright orange light with no shape at all visible except for the round orange bright growing light in the sky as it was moving. I do not know what to think of what I saw last night, but I will be looking for it again and next time I will be more prepared.

  • On Aug 31 or Sept 1, 2018 on a deep clear sky over Westfield Wis saw light gray flickering panels of lights directly over head, Northwest sky. It lasted quite a long time minutes to 1/2 hour about 10 to 12 at night.
    It was dismissed as heat lightening. I disagreed.

    Was there any record of this sighting about 65 miles northwest of Madison Wisconsin was my location.

  • I Didn’t know about this page so I don’t remember when(date and time)but it was about 1yr ago in the middle of the day. We seen an object broad daylight almost like a shooting star. North go south. Bensalem, Pa. go towards the south. It was fast, silver, round, no trial, high above the clouds. Horizontal. Can you see shooting stars during the day? Thanks

  • Fishing on lk.Bloomington on July 16 at 10 pm….. I witnessed 4 bright flashes 5 seconds apart at 1 o’clock position to north.flashes went west to east with no noise.Horizon to horizon in 15 seconds.

  • Budapest, Hungary
    August 28, 2018
    Approximately 11pm CET

    Bright light – almost a flash but too long (approx. 1 second) to be a flash – appearing in sky then gone. Appeared a second time and it surprised me as it didn’t appear to have moved (although, I had no decent reference point in the sky for that). Appeared a 3rd time and disappeared.

    No sound.
    No navigation lights.
    Clear sky.
    Looking north.
    ‘Light’ moving south.
    Lasted all of 15/20 seconds.

    Second time this year I have noticed the event. First event was around January and the ‘light’ actually appeared to reverse course then set forth forward again.

    Either a military flight signalling (long shot and a bit dramatic) or space debris, perhaps.

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