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Lights, Sky, UFO, Flash, Streak

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Lights in the Sky – Have you Seen a UFO Flash or Streak in the Night Sky?

Have you seen lights in the night sky recently? Or what you may think is a UFO flash, streak, or fly across the heavens in the dead of night?

If you have, read on!

First of all, VirtualAstro hasn’t gone all History Channel. Nor is the author of this article a closet believer in Ancient Aliens, Nibiru or the Lizard people.

If you are a believer in modern myths and conspiracies. You may get a little upset during the course of this article. Hopefully though, you will find it just as interesting, entertaining and enlightening as other readers.

Another thing I’d like to mention. Before we dive in and start discussing UFO lights, flashes and streaks across the sky. People are entitled to believe in what they want and have their own reasons for doing so.  However, this article is actually a guide to describing what these lights, flashes, steaks in the sky and other UFO phenomena actually are.

Have you seen a UFO?

Many people if asked “have you seen a UFO?” will answer yes and quite rightly so! They have seen odd bright lights. Objects that flash and streak across the sky and other strange phenomenon. Are these UFO sightings? Yes they are.

Before you shout at your device and hit the back button. Keep reading a little longer. All will be explained using science and fact. We’ll put hysteria, superstition and beliefs aside for the moment.

Unidentified Flying Objects

When I was a child first starting out on my stargazing journey. I would look up at the night sky. I would see the regular night sky and occasionally there would be something different. Things would move. Lights would flash, streak, appear, disappear and so on. Sometimes these out of the ordinary unidentified flying objects would be accompanied by something making a noise in the bushes.

I would run indoors terrified! Locking the door behind me!

In my Child mind I had seen a UFO and there were Aliens in the bushes! Or so my imagination led me to believe. It didn’t help that I watched Close encounters of the Third Kind that Christmas.

Now I’ve been stargazing for over 30 years. I know I wasn’t seeing UFO’s. I now know exactly what these objects are. They are no longer Unidentified Flying Objects. They are really cool objects! However, I still run indoors when I hear things in the bushes.

If you don’t know what these lights, flashes, streaks and other phenomena are.  Then to you, they are UFO’s – unidentified flying objects. We just need to identify them and understand what they are.

UFO’s Explained

As an adult and experienced stargazer, I can easily say that I have never seen a UFO. I have been able to identify every light, flash, streak, flare, pop and object I have seen in the night sky. If I couldn’t identify or explain it straight away, I would research it and find out what it was. I do this all the time now and very little is unexplained and nothing is supernatural.

So what are these things in the sky?

Look up for a while on any clear evening and as well as stars and regular objects. You will see lights, streaks of light, flashes, things moving and more.

You can separate these objects into natural or manmade phenomena.

Natural Objects and Phenomena


Meteors, are pieces of space rock and dust that impact the Earth’s atmosphere. When this happens, friction between the atmosphere and meteor causes the meteor burn up in a flash or streak of light. We often romanticise this as a shooting star.  Some meteors are tiny and barely noticeable, lasting a fraction of a second. Other larger meteors appear as bright fiery streaks of light across the sky. Otherwise known as fireballs or bolides. They can last a few seconds or longer depending on their size.

Meteors can be prolific at certain times creating Meteor Showers. They can also be sporadic bits of space rock that occasionally encounter the Earth’s atmosphere randomly. Meteors can be seen every night if the sky is clear.

Typical Meteor Fireball.


To the uninitiated, a planet can easily be mistaken for a UFO. Venus and Jupiter probably being the most common culprits. They appear as bright lights in the sky all of a sudden to those who don’t stargaze regularly.

The word Planet is taken from the Greek word for wanderer. Planets can change position and move a fair amount over a short period. This can lead a person who doesn’t stargaze into thinking they are seeing a UFO. The sky is always changing and in motion. Therefore, changes in planet positions can appear alarming to some.

Weather and Space Weather

The weather can also cause all sorts of different effects on the sky. From Lunar to Solar halo’s. Sun dogs, Moon dogs, clouds, thunder storms and more. Many of these phenomena are easily noticed as some sort of atmospherics. Or otherwise known as atmospheric optics.

Space Weather is the direct effect of light or objects interacting with our atmosphere from space. These include, Aurora – Northern and Southern Lights caused by charged particles fro the sun. Noctilucent Clouds, Belt of Venus and even more caused by light interactions in the right conditions.

Man made Objects and Phenomena

Most lights in the sky. UFO sightings, streaks and flashes can certainly be attributed to manmade objects.

International Space Station

The International Space Station appears as a bright light moving across the sky. It can sometimes materialise out of nowhere. Or disappear in the same fashion. It does this as it leaves or enters Earth’s shadow depending on when and where it is in its orbit.


Satellites are usually fainter and can move in a similar fashion to the Space Station. In contrast, they can move at different speeds, directions and brightness. For the purpose of this article we will refer to everything humans have put into orbit as satellites. Some are actual communications, science, or military satellites. Some are bits of space junk. Spent rocket bodies, satellite fairings, rocket motors etc.

Some of this space junk de-orbits occasionally and can be seen as a spectacular fireball with the debris burning up as it falls through the sky.

Many satellites cruise happily around the planet fixed in their attitude. Appearing as a faint or sometimes even brighter points of light moving across the sky. Some however tumble or spin as they move. These are usually rocket bodies or bizarre or broken satellites orbiting the earth. Due to their tumbling or spinning, they can flash or pulse as they reflect sunlight from various surfaces as they move. Some can materialise and light up the sky for a few seconds. These are iridium satellites. Famous for the soon to be ended iridium flares.

Tumbling satellite sped up via youtube


Satellites can be solitary or can travel with friends. Some have no relation to the other and can cruise through the sky together and can also cross paths. Like celestial ships passing through the night. A few satellites form “constellations” of satellites with two or more satellites in a group moving across the sky. One particular group forms a triangle and really does look like a straight out of the box area 51 UFO. Worth looking out for! Don’t call the police if you see it though. You’ll look silly.

A Video showing how busy the night sky is. Showing satellites, meteors and space junk via youtube


Aircraft are usually distinguishable from everything else due to different colour flashing lights. However, the lights from aircraft especially landing lights seen from a distance can be mistaken for a UFO. Because of the intensity of the lights, the aircrafts other blinking/ flashing lights can be obscured. This can fool the observer into thinking its a solid moving light. If you live in an area with busy flight paths, you may see multiple aircraft dancing low in the sky together. Sometimes these groups if seen from the right direction, look like they are hovering and interacting with each other. Many UFO reports have been made due to this, but in the end it was air traffic.

Multiple aircraft as described above – via youtube

Everything Can be Explained

If you take the time to study the night sky. Familiarise yourself with it and your surroundings. You will certainly understand the motion and behaviour of the sky and the objects in it.

As I said above, I have seen lights in the sky, flashes, meteors streaking, satellites, space junk and more. But I have never seen an actual UFO.

Are there Aliens? Are there real UFO’s?

I have never seen one, however I am open minded and would like to think there is extraterrestrial life in the Universe. You can count on it!

I hope they are friendly.

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