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

  • On the night of the 02/06/2006 I was living on north side of Lake Cathie on Ocean drive.At about 8.45 pm I took a photo of the quarter moon and saw a bluish object and then took another photo but in the second one no bluish object. Using photoshop and another photo imaging programme I found a very interesting observation of something that was in the blue object. Have you got an email address so I can email you the original photo and a couple of the photo shopped images

    • Les, Don’t keep it a secret, tell us what your interesting object is! You can post your photos to any photo-sharing site and we can link to them.

  • Gawler/ Edinborough South Australia Wednesday 28th August between 11:30pm & 12pm. Travelling North East in the car Northern Expressway.
    Approx 35°. Very bright flash/strobe of light appeared reasonably close larger than a full moon. Light flashed very bright then took off very very fast in a horizontal direction and flashed again. Saw this happen in front of my car next to my car behind my car and then looked like it was 3km behind my car all in less than a minute. Happened so fast but can’t confirm if it just dissapeared as I was driving at the time. It was a reasonably clear night. My brother was also in the car with me & neither of us could explain what it could have been due to the size, proximity and most baffling the high speed and horizontal/zig zag direction

  • Gawler/ Edinborough South Australia Wednesday 28th August between 11:30pm & 12pm. Travelling North East in the car Northern Expressway.
    Approx 35°. Very bright flash/strobe of light appeared reasonably close larger than a full moon. Light flashed very bright then took off very very fast in a horizontal direction and flashed again. Saw this happen in front of my car next to my car behind my car and then looked like it was 3km behind my car all in less than a minute. Happened so fast but can’t confirm if it just dissapeared as I was driving at the time. It was a reasonably clear night. My brother was also in the car with me & neither of us could explain what it could have been due to the size, proximity and most baffling the high speed and horizontal/zig zag direction. Any ideas?

  • Date: this evening (Friday 23 August 2019)
    Time: 17:54
    Location: North Sydney, looking WSW
    Altitude: approximately 50 degrees

    I saw a shooting star travel about 30 degrees across the sky towards the SW. The sky was perfectly clear. Towards the end of its track it visibly burnt out.

  • Lived in St Augustine FL for ten years, 1 mile from the ocean with back porch looking to the west. I typically see commercial aircraft moving slowly in the sky, on 8/22/19 at 10:45ish pm I see a bright white super white flash high in the sky, two seconds later same white flash heading north, I stand up to look for it again and see it for the third time heading north. Whatever it was it was gone in a matter of six seconds. Never seen that before.

  • Located in Manchester (uk) outside tonight approx 11.30pm I seem this fast moving object couldn’t make out the shape as it was at high Speed. It was silent and 3 different colours white and red 2 minutes later another one appears going same direction same colour same speed approximately 3 minutes later another one appears from the same place heading the same direction as the other except this one was going slower same colour no sound and lower down I looked directly up and made out the shape is was triangle with two white lights underneath and flashe’s of red and white from all 3 corners. Another moment later one came back then straight after there was a very bright star lookalike moving very slowly in the sky before it disappeared.

  • A bright light – possibly a burning light with what looked like a trail of smoke was seen a few properties away and due north of 25* 24′ S and 145* 20’E western Queensland, Australia about 7.40pm Monday 22.07.19
    It was sighted from a paddock and not sure whether it could have been a plane or a satelite. Not sure about the elevation.

    • Hey there Robyn I saw the EXACT same thing you are talking about at the same time you did. It was 7:40pm 22/07/2019 and was approx. 60degrees in a Northerly direction. It was travelling from East to West at a rate of say 5degrees per 15seconds towards the Ocean(East). I thought we were going to get hit by a meteorite so called the family out for a look. Before our very eyes it dimmed out like turning a light off and a massive puff of smoke appeared in a vertical cloud shape and it had vanished. There was no sound & another interesting thing was there was NO Moon in the sky when it occured. The moon came much later in the evening. A Scottish man walking his dog witnessed it also and we chatted about it. I tried to get footage, so will look over it and see if it’s useable :).
      Another thing to note is shortly after it disappeared, 3-4 very silent planes? Drones? Headed over to the area, they were all silent & a shape was too hard to distinguish.
      This sighting was from Arundel on the Gold Coast,QLD,AUSTRALIA.
      Glad we weren’t the only ones to witness it :-). Cheers Robyn

  • This morning I was at the top of my work balcony on the roof and I saw one bright light moving very fast. It went back and forth and then disappeared. It was south east. It was there for about 2 minutes before it disappeared. Im sure there is an explanation for this, but it was certainly not a plane. It was moving north. The sky was clear with not a cloud in the sky. Could not see the moon or venus. This happened in sydney city business district in australia. I have seen something like this when I was a child, but their were 2 bright lights close to one another. This was just one. Was it a satelite?

    • Melanie, Was it still dark? You wouldn’t see satellites during the day. A back and forth motion would not be a satellite, maybe a weather balloon?

  • I am located in Sydney on the Northern beaches. At 3.30 p.m. today the 18th of July, I noticed a very high flying object pass over the top of my house almost directly above. It was tiny and hard to see about the size of a bright star. It was a very clear day with no clouds. It was not an aeroplane as it was more silvery and glinting with no vapour trail. It travelled in a smooth trajectory from South West to North East and took about 10 mins to travel across the part of the sky I can see from my backyard so it was quite slow moving. I don’t know whether it could have been a weather balloon? Or satellite? Love to know if anyone has any ideas.

    • Hi. I just had the same experience! I live in Western Sydney & around 3:30 pm to 3:45 p.m I spotted a tiny bright spot in the sky. It did not move but it glowed brighter and then slowly faded until it disappeared. This all happened within the time period of around 30 seconds. The sky was very clear with no clouds at all. After it disappeared, it reappeared 4-5 minutes later! The same thing happened but this time I noticed the small bright light (also the size of a star) had shifted a bit to the left of where I first saw it in the sky. I too believe it was not an aeroplane because an aeroplane actually flew by during this incident & they both looked completely different to each other. I am very curious to whether the light I saw was the same as yours due to the fact that you have seen it recently and I saw it 2 days after your experience. Because you live in the Northern beaches, maybe it moved West to where I live during the 2 days? Please respond!!

  • 1/06/2019
    6.15am, north east Victoria near Beechworth. Looking west/NthWest I noticed 2 bright lights at around 45deg, approximately 4 fingers apart at arms length travelling in a southerly direction. Identical trajectory, very much as bright and velocity of the space station, only they moved a distance then stopped immediately for a second or two, then moved, then stopped, 4 times in all during their path. Witnessed all the way from northern sky to southern before they faded in light cloud. Tell me someone else saw this!

  • On 1 July 2019, in night 1:15am in Karawal Nagar, Delhi, India when I was sleeping on floor beneath the sky a white light moving very fast randomly in straight line and become invisible after reaching a certain point and again moves in other direction very fast. I tried to catch the incident in my camera but nothing catches in video.
    Can u reply what was that, I am very curious about that incident.

  • I am in Southern California and just now at approximately 9:35 pm I observed a large white object flashing on and completely off in the sky to the north of me. It seemed to stationary and not moving. I watched it for 2 or 3 minutes and saw it get smaller and smaller to a tiny dot in the sky and then it disappeared. It was was too low and did not have the characteristics of a star. It had an oblong shape. The sky is clear and there was nothing around it. I am totally freaked out right now. If anyone can tell me what it was please let me know.

  • I was outside in my garden, Enmore, facing north and watching Jupiter and Scorpius which were almost overhead, and a bat flew by. As I looked over to see it I was looking at about 45 degrees up, the sky so clear and beautiful…
    At that moment an almost clear but slightly lit at the edges (but not flaming or alight) plasma oblong wobbling twisting object came downward through the sky heading to the ground heading east lengthways kind of along the flightpath but opposite direction.
    It was BIG, and seriously if I wasn’t paying attention it would have been easily missed because it was so fast (maybe 3 seconds max) and like an opaque but clear oblong blob of wobbling twisting jelly, (best way to explain). It was 8:11pm.
    I’ve seen a meteorite pretty close ablaze with a smoking tail and that was no meteorite. It was amazing! Then about 3-4 mins later something shot down directly from above where it may have fallen in literally a second, so fast. As fast as a bug, but a jet size bug. Much smaller and black. (Sorry for the explanation and my bearings I hope I made sense!) I really desire to know what on earth I witnessed. I feel very blessed!

  • A week or two ago I saw some bright pulses patterns in the sky, but I didnt record the date and didnt follow up further. I again saw the same pulse pattern today. I am at Katunga, Victoria. I am fascinated by the night sky and so always look at it. Many things are seen, and ussually explained, not this.
    First time was at approximately 6.05am and lasted for approx. 10 minutes. the sky was clear, it was dry conditions. I noticed a flash in corner of my eye, and then again in same direction so began to watch the area. it was @ 35deg in east north east sky and moving in a southerly direction, &/or further easterly direction as it got fainter over time. – but also the sky was moving toward dawn.
    Today it was 5:15am it was a clear sky at the time, wet conditions. direction @45deg true north and moving easterly .
    pattern on both occasions: appeared as a group of three separate flashes or pulses; one intense, two similarly less intense. The two less intense pulses were apart and generally in front of the more intense pulse. there was no symmetry or pattern.
    Today the lights appeared closer to me as it was much more bright, the brighter pulse on this occasion giving me the feeling of needing to turn away if it has been any brighter.
    the pulses of light were not regular like say the blink of a plane light, but occurred close enough together, approx 5 seconds to 10 – 15 sec [first time]. this morning 5-10 sec.
    Any appearance of tails or trails of light from the pulses are described as follows: this morning, the less intense pulses seemed to flash behind. the intense pulse had no tail or trail. Previous sighting: trails of light on the less intense which where in random directions [every direction no pattern], & again not apparent on the intense pulse.
    This morning watching went for approx 10 min before being interrupted by light coming from neighbor farm.
    I was clear of mind on both occasions. observed with naked eye. I do not watch the sky at any set time, but always look at the night sky whenever given occasion. These are the only times seen these patterns in my 50+ years.

    • I have been seeing pulsing also in the night sky in Sydney. I’m an avid sky watcher. I’d say over the last 6 months I have been noticing this. It lights up the entire sky in a way that lightning would. But there is no lightning. It doesn’t seem to have any particular pattern to it and it concerns me. It feels insidious and unnatural to me. I actually have it captured it on video. I’ve also twice now heard a low booming frequency sound in the same off kind of pattern and it was unpleasant to say the least.

  • October mountain lee Massachusetts at 1145 pm clear night no moon Northwest at 45 degree angle. I saw about 20 lights or so in a straight line, moving slowly across the sky for about 5 min before disappearing behind the trees. I was with another person too so I know I saw this and I’m not crazy I just have no clue what I saw and can’t find anything so help me please.

  • Early in January 2019, I was at Lake Eucumbene in the Snowy Mountains looking for satellites when I noticed a flash about 5 times bigger than the biggest star that lasted about 0.5 second. I was looking north/northwest and it was 2-3 cms to the left of the “Saucepan”. Apologies for my crude coordinates. Any thoughts as to what it may have been?
    Kind regards.

    • Scott, it may have been a glint off a satellite but that’s too long ago to reliably determine which satellite at Heavens-Above. It is better to say “brighter” rather than “bigger” when referring to stars.

  • Did anyone else see the big red ball speeding across the sky tonight?

    8.15pm tonight (Tuesday 21 May 2019), in Brimbank, I saw a huge red ball speeding across the sky. I can’t even guess at what it was but it remained vivid for some time and after I lost sight of it, a bright white light fell toward the earth. That looked like a shooting star but was closer and brighter than I’ve seen before. Still, it’s the big red ball that is still blowing my mind! Any one out there have any idea?

    Clear, could see the moon ( couldn’t miss it), above 45 degrees, I don’t know direction but from St Albans toward Sunshine. It didn’t seem to be speeding but I’ve never seen anything move across the sky so quickly.

  • Ok I live about 35 miles east of atlanta GA.so it’s 2:30 am and I go outside look up and ask if they will please make themself visable of give me a sign that they are in fact real …3 mins.after saying that I see at about 45 degrees face north and its very cloudy ..i see a dim light just appear moving very fast in a straight line then changes direction with no arc just instantly and it was a v shape move ..well under 90 degrees the path looks like this. < I have no idea what in the hell I just saw but what a coincidence or maybe not it was ..

  • Hi Sydney Observatory, Tonight, 6 May at around 7.46 pm there were two long (1-2) second flashes about 5 degrees either side of due north separated by about 3 seconds. Seen from my back yard in Dundas but my house obscured a direct view as the flashes were only 30-40 degrees above the north horizon. Any ideas what these were. Thanks Ed.

  • At 6:30 this evening (Brisbane time) I saw two star-light objects just above and to the left of alpha-centaurus in the Eastern sky, about 45 degrees above the horizon. They were about the brightness of Jupiter or Sirius. They were close together ( a quarter of the distance between “the pointers”) and of the same magnitude. My view was obscured by foliage for a couple of seconds. When I saw them again they had faded and in a few seconds they had vanished. There was light cloud around, but this was not the reason for their disappearance.

    The lights did not move and did not appear to twinkle like a star. The moon was gibbous and in the north-west. The direction I was looking was in the general direction of Brisbane airport, but this was not plane-related.

    I have been observing the night skies for 45 years and have never seen anything that I could not explain.

    • Dr Fuller, You may have seen a pair of NOSS (Naval Ocean Surveillance System) ‘spy’ satellites. They travel in pairs, one slightly ahead of the other. Although they are normally too faint to notice from a city they must have (a/some) highly reflective surface panels because sometimes they do just what you saw – they brighten up considerably and noticeably. They move across the sky relatively slowly, too slowly to notice the movement when you are surprised by their bright appearance! I’ve seen this myself and this is the best explanation I have. At the Heavens-Above website you can see them, and their path past alpha Centauri. Be sure to enter your location; select “Daily predictions for brighter satellites”; “set minimum brightness” to 5.0; select the correct date; and you will see NOSS 3-3 (A) and NOSS 3-3 (C); clicking on the “Highest Point – Time” link displays a map of the sky.

  • Kallangur. Qld, 4503, 17.25pm, SE, 50 to 55 degrees, moving south east, cloudy, saw it for about 5 minutes. Seemed to be a relatively stationary object with another object attached below that was swinging around a bit .looked like it was either reflecting light (although it was cloudy), or possibly on fire. Weather station or something else?

    • Kathy, yes, that sounds very much like a weather balloon, possibly launched from Brisbane airport. The wind can change direction a lot as the balloon rises which could explain why it was heading back towards the airport. And the foil radar reflector below the balloon would have been reflecting the light of the setting Sun.

  • Saw a red/orangey light in the sky in south south east direction at around 7:55pm in Hobart. The object looked to be headed north east. Was a red orange light that brightened at the read sort of orange colour and had what looked to be a very small trail but hardly any. It was around 70 degrees from horizon. Stuck around for around 5 seconds and didn’t move across the sky to fast and I was slightly stunned. Haven’t seen anything similar to this before and suspecting it is space junk? Thanks. Let’s hope for nothing extraterrestrial.??

  • Tuggerah Lakes, NSW. Stepped out to watch the ISS tonight, 8/3/2019. I use the ‘Spot the Station’ predictions for Lake Macquarie sighting. 10deg. SSW at 8.42, bang on time, flew like a beaut, predicted to fade at 39deg. SE after 3 minutes, probably nearer to ESE in actuality. As ISS rose higher it became brighter, which right or wrong I put down to the reflective angle. When it reached 20 or 25 deg elevation and was quite bright, I could clearly see a smaller object on a path directly in front of it, say the width of my thumb at arm’s length ahead. Same speed. The small object faded about 5 deg. before ISS. Can you tell me what the smaller object was please? A quick search tells me naught. Sky was clear with very low white cloud SSE, below where the ISS appeared.

  • At 11:45pm on March 4th 2019 in East Setauket, NY I saw a orange flash fill the sky above an inlet next to a power plant. The light filled up a large cloud and the rest of the sky was mostly clear. The light lasted for about 3 seconds and did not occur again after. This is not the first time I have seen an orange light in Long Island, NY.

  • I was in Truganina 23rd of jan2019
    I saw strobe lights flashing , starting close together at the base In the far north-west, they beamed up and out and some parts were covered from the clouds and other parts were in front of clouds. The lights flashed for a few seconds and seemed to fade in and out of colours of the rainbow and also white. The lights went away and then five minutes or so later appeared again, this time they were just glowing and seemed to be without a base and stayed high but lose to us in the sky .
    Then today the 25th jan 2019 a bright orange flash filled the sky above us in a radious of about 400m or less and flashed like the light of a thunderstorm but without having a centre line. The flash brighted up the sky and also around us end the Went away. Then tonight in the north-west to west direction we thought we saw a massive fire, but it couldn’t have been because the fire would take time to put out, within3 minutes there was no orange light but only red and blue emergency lights from the emergency services attending to whatever it was, the orange light was the same colour as the flashes from earlier in the day that were right above and around us.
    I’m sort of convinced that the lights from the other night are some kind of strobe lights, and the lights from today and tonight, I’m not sure.
    Any one else see this in or around Melbourne Victoria Australia.?

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