It's Saturday 15th July 2017 and currently 00:44. I saw this strange object at around 00:35. I was looking out my window and spotted a bright orange light moving at a steady speed across the sky, it was definitely not a star, at first I thought it was maybe a plane and one of its engines was on fire but it was moving too fast to be a plane and it didn't appear to lose any speed or height as you might expect in that situation. Then I though it could be a landing plane since I live near an airport, again the same conclusion. I watched this bright orange light fly across the sky and occasionally dim as it went behind a cloud although it was still visible. It came out the first cloud and wntered the second, however when it came out of the second cloud it had changed into several dim red lights in a flat line, with the accasional bright flash of green to replace the red lights. It continued to fly over the airport and eventually got too far away to see anymore. I read up and though I could have seen a satellite but I've seen iridium flares before and they've been very different to this, this incident has left me confused and I'd love some insight as to what this might have been. Thanks :)

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like a plane behind cloud most of the time. $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2017 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ James K - it isn't, I've already read that in an attempt to find an answer and my sighting is much different. Found no answers from the comments on that question. $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2017 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ What makes you think it isn't a plane besides the fact that it was "moving too fast"? Everything else you've said sounds just like a plane to me. Furthermore, what does this have to do with astronomy? Even if you couldn't identify it, it doesn't sound astronomical in nature (particularly because of the "dim red lights in a flat line"). $\endgroup$
    – zephyr
    Jul 17, 2017 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


Your description matches that of a fireball, which are typically large meteors. As they enter the atmosphere they heat up and glow. The colour will depend on their speed and composition. As they get hotter, they often break up into several pieces, which follow the same trajectory. Much the same effect arise when old satellites or space debris re-enters the atmosphere.

  • $\begingroup$ "It continued to fly over the airport" does sound more like a plane to me. Likewise the "occasional bright flash of green". $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2017 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but since the OP lives near the airport, my presumption was that this was something unusual. $\endgroup$
    – Dr Chuck
    Jul 16, 2017 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ I lived near airports all my life (grew up near one) and I can tell you there's no end of strange optical and lighting effects that look like e.g planes on fire, you name it. The combination of sun (or moon), bright metal and flashing and non-flashing lights together with the ability of the mind to see what's not there and "fill in the gaps" just makes for some weird visuals. IMO anyone not seeing some strange things near an airport is not looking. :-) $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2017 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thankyou for your answers, thing is this was not similar to the planes I'd already seen in the sky that night, or any other time😂It flew over the airport but not as if it was about to land; I will try to explain in more detail. Basically as I'm looking out my window, the airport is on my left, the runway faces the same way as my house, so any plane taking off or landing will be parallel to my house, this was not, it was going across the sky faster than a plane and was just very strange. Not to invalidate your answer, just thought I'd elaborate, thanks again😊 $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2017 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ Thankyou Dr Chuck that kind of explains it, still slightly confused about it seemingly changing into a plane like object but maybe that was my eyes or the clouds playing tricks on me lol. $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2017 at 21:32

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