Cluster of fast moving stars

  • We live in NW Tasmania in a country town and tonight out walking I pointed out a long cluster of stars to my sister as they made an unusual shape but then we realised they were moving really fast - we stood and watched them pass over us and decided to record it but sadly the moon was too bright to get a good recording. Any ideas on what it was? very intrigued as haven't seen anything like it before.

    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about Astronomy.

    If you think it was an unusually bright meteor, you may try reporting it to and see if anyone else saw it. is a report of a similar incident in a different part of Australia.

    Actually, despite my vote-to-close above, @barrycarter may well have the solution (and it is astronomical). The other possibility might be a re-entering satellite (highly unlikely).

    Stars don't "move" at least, that we can observe. Haley (I think it was Haley), noticed that stars had moved relative to where they were when the Greeks observed them, but that was over nearly 2,000 years and the movements were small. Anything that visibly moves across the sky has to be very close, in relative terms, usually heated up as it passes through the Earth's upper atmosphere. (or some kind of aircraft or weather-balloon) :-) Roswell joke.

    I don't think this question is off topic in the sense that the questioner wants to know what it was they saw in the sky and (erroneously) thinks it was astronomical. The most likely explanation, it seems to me, is a jet or jets at very high altitude: perhaps on a great circle route to New Zealand?

    It is very likely that you saw a satellite. From earth they look just like stars when they reflect the sun's light. They move very quickly across the night sky. I was fortunate enough to observe the Challenger Space Shuttle approaching its rendez-vous with the ISS one night. This looked like two stars, one slightly brighter than the other, chasing each other across the sky.

    I saw the same thing 11/19/2016. Group of stars moving south. They eventually disappeared. Then 30-40 min later I saw it again but this time my wife saw it too. Def not a satellite because there were too many starlike lights. Never seen anything lie it. Oaxaca, Mexico

    Tomishy, please see the "What topics can I ask about here?" page in the Help Center, specifically the "What about that thing in the sky?" section. Your question is not specific enough to be on topic according to those guidelines.

  • It is highly likely that you might have observed an artificial satellite, most commonly of Iridium series which can flare as bright as -6 magnitude. You can have a check on it anytime. Heavens Above is one of the most trusted sources that can notify you depending on your location. Even NASA is having such service that can notify you about ISS passes. A dozen of mobile apps are there for assistance too.

    If you think it was visible for a short time like meteors are, then you are free to report it here : AMS Fireball Report or here : IMO Fireball Report

    Don't feel embarrassed if you might have mistaken a jet to that of a moving star. We all have faced that in our initial days of sky observation. Hope this helps

    "red green variable star" = jet

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

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