Saw a bright orange object in the sky. What was it?

  • Some friends and I were backpacking in the mountains, and at night we saw a very bright orange object in the sky. It looked brighter than Venus. After a couple minutes we realized it was moving horizontally very slowly. Its movement wasn't noticeable unless looking at it next to a reference point like a tree. This was way brighter and slower than any satellite I've seen. Anyone know what this was?

    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is a (very vague) UFO report and we do not generally make guesses about these things. In general Astronomy SE deals with objects that are far outside Earth's atmosphere and with the exception of LEO satellites (which your object is apparently not) we don't deal with them.

    The description is consistent with the planet Mars. A time and direction would be helpful.

    I think it's a perfectly reasonable astronomy question. It's not a UFO report (no mention of "flying object"), and the answer is useful in describing how stars and planets low on the horizon can be seen to move very slowly. I too was amazed how bright and orange the object (Mars) was.

    @Chappo I live in Ireland - I am generally amazed if we can see the sky for all the cloud we normally get ! :-)

  • If the bright orange object was low in the southeast around midnight, it may have been Mars.
    In late July and early August 2018, it will be only 0.39 AU away from Earth and shine with apparent magnitude -2.7, slightly brighter than Jupiter.
    This is not as bright as Venus but may stand out more strongly in a midnight sky than Venus does in twilight.
    For most of Mars's 2.1 year synodic period, it is farther from Earth and appears fainter.

    As the Earth rotates, celestial objects appear to move about 1/4 degree per minute from east to west.
    For observers in the northern hemisphere, objects near the southern horizon appear to move horizontally left to right.

    On the weekend Mars was low in the northeast sky 2 hrs after sunset (southern hemisphere) and was the biggest, brightest and most orange I'd ever seen it. Quite a feast for planet watchers, with Venus brilliant in the northwest and Jupiter and Saturn high in the sky.

  • I came here to ask the same question on July 8 but I found you had asked already 3 hours ago. So I waited for answers. When Mike G assured it's mars, I felt better, because when I saw the object I felt it's never a satellite or UFO like something. But we are in different Geo location, right? So how can that answer be authentic?(although, Mike has provided some technical info for Geo locations, but I'm a bit lazy to measure and find that way) So I had to search for any reliable source.

    Yesterday, searching on google, I found

    I corrected Latitude and Longitude with my location( the city I lived), which I found in wikipedia or you can use google maps( but that case you have to convert the decimal coordinates to degree). And then Updating the data with real time, it's just almost accurate (with eye level measurement) for the red planet and else. Yes, it's mars. But wait, there are more, I found Saturn, Jupiter- I was blown away, identifying them as what they are for the first time in my life. (planets are shown with symbols- the legends you can find on

    I think as it's relative with Geo location, you can get the actual answer, trying this site, the way I found my answer.


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