Star like light moving in the sky, what could it be?

  • I was camping this weekend away from the city, so my friends and I decided to spend one of the nights watching the sky, since it's impossible to see anything around where we live. After a little while, of staring up, I saw what looked like a star moving. It moved fast, but not a long distance, and various directions and back. It was about the same size of the other stars near by. It was not as bright as other stars though. I stopped looking up for a little bit, to make sure my eyes were seeing things correctly. But then I looked up again I continued to see the light moving. I thought I was going crazy, so I pointed it out to my friend. It took him a little while, but after a few minutes he also saw it. His girlfriend also saw it a few minutes later. My friend brought up something about satellite reflections and other theories, but we have no idea what we saw.



    So what could it be?


    Moving continuously in a straight line: satellite. Changing direction and/or changing speed: airplane (or maybe firefly). All of these are pretty common sights; there's nothing unusual in seeing a satellite passing overhead.

    It wasn't in a straight line. Do planes travel back and forth around the same area?

    Well some people could have claimed that it would have been some UFO. But maybe be a test drone by some private companies or the government.

    Note stars sometimes do appear to move short distances, simply because our eyes aren't good at tracking isolated points of light. I've seen this effect myself many times, so I'm not doubting your description. Ideally a sketch (made at the time) showing the position relative to nearby stars, telegraph poles, etc. would prove it's not really moving at all...

    It could be an satelite moving

    Please read the above comments before answering. They made it rather clear that it is _not_ a satellite.

    It might be a plane with its landing lights on, entering a pattern for a landing. Landing lights are a lot brighter than running light and are easy to miss.

    Sometimes lamps or lasers point to the sky and illuminate clouds. This can cause similar strange effects. Btw., this may not be legal, sometimes.

    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it isn't about astronomy.

    We should make this question a community wiki, and close ever coming similar questions as duplicate of that one. Simply suggesting.

    **Note for people being directed here after duplicate close votes**: Many 'object/light' identification questions are closed as a duplicate of this one, but this one does not give a good methodology to identify objects either. That is because many ID questions are not a very good fit for the site. See this discussion on meta

    Most likely it's ISS (International Space Station).

    Maybe more details? Hour, date, azimuth, altitude, ... Maybe you were too surprised because you have never seen that...

    If you have a question like this, then report accurate hour, date, location of observation, azimuth, altitude and speed of the object.

  • James K

    James K Correct answer

    6 years ago

    There was a object, apparently flying above you, that you couldn't identify. By definition this is an unidentified flying object. However this does not imply that it was an extra-terrestrial spacecraft.



    UFO reports can be explained by a combination of:




    1. Not recognising a known natural object, such as Venus, or unusual clouds.

    2. Planes, drones, Chinese lanterns or satellites.

    3. Optical illusion, dreams or the effects of drugs.

    4. Deliberate falsification.



    There is no real way to decide what it was you saw. There are a couple of points in your report that are odd. You describe it as the same size as stars, but less bright. Stars have no visible size, and have many magnitudes of brightness. Your report suggests that you are someone who doesn't regularly observe the sky, and so is likely to be more susceptible to optical illusions and tricks that eyes can play on us.


    Even a distant firefly.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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