Can anyone help me figure this out?

Jul 13, 2021
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Hello everyone, I was hoping someone might be able to help me figure out something odd I saw one night a few years ago?

There are a couple of explanations that came to mind, but they don't really seem to fit what I saw, so maybe someone who knows more about this kind of stuff than me could help...

I was out walking my sisters dog around 10 or 11pm on a clear night, and there's a tree that she likes to stop and sniff around for a while (the dog, not my sister), and I'll usually stare up at the stars when they're out. So there I was, looking up at what I thought was Venus since it was quite a bit brighter and bigger than all the other stars, when I noticed it was getting bigger. I probably thought it was my eyes focusing on it or something, but it got even bigger... and bigger... until it was (my memory's slightly hazy on exactly how big it got) between half to the full size of the moon. It then proceeded to shrink down to its former size before shrinking even further into nothingness. It all lasted about 30-60 seconds, was very smooth in it's transition, and was kind of like a long pulse. It didn't change shape at all, it was a perfect circle. I can't recall whether the brightness changed as it grew in size or whether it stayed uniform, but it was certainly as bright as a full moon whilst it was at that size. There wasn't any noise either.

I've been perplexed ever since, and often thought about asking people in some kind of forum what they think it could have been, so here I am asking if any of you know what the hell I saw! My first thought was supernova, but I'm pretty sure that's wrong for various reasons. Then I thought maybe a meteorite, but I've seen plenty of those in videos and they're nothing at all like that was, so I'm at a loss. I live in rural England, if that helps?

Thanks to anyone who might be able to shed any light on this damn thing.
 
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Jul 3, 2021
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Hello everyone, I was hoping someone might be able to help me figure out something odd I saw one night a few years ago?

There are a couple of explanations that came to mind, but they don't really seem to fit what I saw, so maybe someone who knows more about this kind of stuff than me could help...

I was out walking my sisters dog around 10 or 11pm on a clear night, and there's a tree that she likes to stop and sniff around for a while (the dog, not my sister), and I'll usually stare up at the stars when they're out. So there I was, looking up at what I thought was Venus since it was quite a bit brighter and bigger than all the other stars, when I noticed it was getting bigger. I probably thought it was my eyes focusing on it or something, but it got even bigger... and bigger... until it was (my memory's slightly hazy on exactly how big it got) between half to the full size of the moon. It then proceeded to shrink down to its former size before shrinking even further into nothingness. It all lasted about 30-60 seconds, was very smooth in it's transition, and was kind of like a long pulse. It didn't change shape at all, it was a perfect circle. I can't recall whether the brightness changed as it grew in size or whether it stayed uniform, but it was certainly as bright as a full moon whilst it was at that size. There wasn't any noise either.

I've been perplexed ever since, and often thought about asking people in some kind of forum what they think it could have been, so here I am asking if any of you know what the hell I saw! My first thought was supernova, but I'm pretty sure that's wrong for various reasons. Then I thought maybe a meteorite, but I've seen plenty of those in videos and they're nothing at all like that was, so I'm at a loss. I live in rural England, if that helps?

Thanks to anyone who might be able to shed any light on this damn thing.
My wager says upper atmospheric lightening.

 
Jul 13, 2021
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My wager says upper atmospheric lightening.
Thanks a lot for the suggestion, much appreciated.

I've had a read up and looked at some pictures and I'm not sure if that's what I saw. It was also a clear night with no storms or anything. If you can imagine Venus transitioning to look like the moon, and then back again to nothing, all in the span of about 30 seconds or so, that's what I saw. Do you have any other ideas of what it could be?
 
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Jul 3, 2021
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Thanks a lot for the suggestion, much appreciated.

I've had a read up and looked at some pictures and I'm not sure if that's what I saw. It was also a clear night with no storms or anything. If you can imagine Venus transitioning to look like the moon, and then back again to nothing, all in the span of about 30 seconds or so, that's what I saw. Do you have any other ideas of what it could be?
Hi notme,

Can you give me the exact location and time & date etcetra longitude and latitude or guess that? Also you were staring exactly at Venus when the bright halo was observed and then disappeared 30 seconds later is that right? Or was it Venus you think? I know it was about 10-11 pm, but can you approximate the altitude?

@notme maybe it was a high altitude drone custom someone had with a special light and they were testing it through an Iphone or remote device that can change an intensity of light onboard? Also there is a phenomenon known as earthquake lights so when you give me all the information maybe I can search for an earthquake.
 
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May 14, 2021
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Iridium flare comes to mind. The Iridium constellation was a group of satellites used for communications. The antennae were sizable flat polished panels, so at the correct angle it could reflect sunlight to the ground, following a path, to an observer, it would start dim, brighten to sometimes many times the magnitude of Venus, then grow dim and disappear. The observer would see it moving across the sky about the speed of a typical satellite, but the ones I’ve seen would last about 10-15 seconds. Some were bright enough to be seen in the daytime.
 
Jul 13, 2021
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Hi notme,

Can you give me the exact location and time & date etcetra longitude and latitude or guess that? Also you were staring exactly at Venus when the bright halo was observed and then disappeared 30 seconds later is that right? Or was it Venus you think? I know it was about 10-11 pm, but can you approximate the altitude?

@notme maybe it was a high altitude drone custom someone had with a special light and they were testing it through an Iphone or remote device that can change an intensity of light onboard? Also there is a phenomenon known as earthquake lights so when you give me all the information maybe I can search for an earthquake.
I wish I could but it was a few years ago now. I don't think I could even give you the year it happened, haha. I just remember thinking it was really odd at the time, and that maybe I'd seen a supernova which I thought was cool.

When I first saw it I thought it was Venus because it appeared to be a really bright star, but it just kept growing in size. It kept getting bigger slowly and smoothly for about 20-30 seconds until it was at least half the size of the moon, maybe a bit more, then shrunk down the same way it grew until it was totally gone.

I've never considered a drone, but I don't think it could have been that considering how it looked. The earthquake lights sound interesting though, I'll see if I can find some pictures to have a look at and compare.

I really appreciate the time and your offer to look into it for me :)
 
Jul 13, 2021
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Install Stellarium on your PC. Adjust the timer to your local time of the occurrence. Note, you may need to change direction (relative ground location) to "see" what was in sky at that time.

I wish I'd made a note of the date when it happened, it would now make it so much easier to figure it out, haha. Thanks anyway, though
 
Jul 13, 2021
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Iridium flare comes to mind. The Iridium constellation was a group of satellites used for communications. The antennae were sizable flat polished panels, so at the correct angle it could reflect sunlight to the ground, following a path, to an observer, it would start dim, brighten to sometimes many times the magnitude of Venus, then grow dim and disappear. The observer would see it moving across the sky about the speed of a typical satellite, but the ones I’ve seen would last about 10-15 seconds. Some were bright enough to be seen in the daytime.
I really thought that was it for a minute, until you mentioned that they move about the same speed as a satellite... This thing wasn't moving at all, it was just like a star in the sky. They sound pretty cool to watch though
 
May 14, 2021
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I believe a supernova would last days or weeks as opposed to seconds or minutes. I’ve also seen aircraft seem to be motionless as it was moving directly at me, it’s headlight becoming brighter, then turn and seemingly disappear as the light turned away.
 
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Jul 13, 2021
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I believe a supernova would last days or weeks as opposed to seconds or minutes. I’ve also seen aircraft seem to be motionless as it was moving directly at me, it’s headlight becoming brighter, then turn and seemingly disappear as the light turned away.
Yeah, after looking into it a while back I had to lose that potential explanation. It definitely looked kind of like the video of the Japan earthquake light, so I'm leaning towards that at the moment, although there were still quite a few differences
 
Jul 13, 2021
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Hi notme,

Here is an earthquake light over Japan. It completely looks like what you describe.

That does look a LOT like what I saw. We're not very earthquake prone in England though, although we do sometimes get them. I don't recall there being any earthquakes then, and it was just a really quiet, cloudless night. The light in the video seems to be flickering quite a bit, whereas the one I saw just slowly grew in size and shrank down again. It was also quite high up in the sky. I might just put it to bed as an earthquake light, though the conditions and look of it don't quite fit.

Thanks a lot for that image, I might do some more digging
 
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Jun 24, 2020
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@notme - what you describe sounds a lot like a flare or meteor burning up in the atmosphere, heading approximately towards where you were standing.
Though not sure, i do believe a meteor burning up wouldn't exist for 30 seconds, leaving a flare as a possibility.

However, I've only seen flares from military planes - and those are shot out in high numbers.
Not sure if there's a civilian application to shooting a single flare
 
Jul 12, 2021
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I remember two years back watching the Perseid meteor shower and noticed something very similar. I would see then streak across the sky but every now and then I would just see a dot of light get bigger and then fade out to nothing. Didn't really think much about it but it sounds a lot like what you had seen. Thinking we were in just in the right place to see head on meteors burning up. But I could be wrong in that conclusion.
 
Hi,

All people above explanation could be corrected.
And MAYBE:
I saw your place in my cosmos program and what I found that over England that night it was Venus Light overlapping Mars Light that could make an effect on earth as an illusionaire Hallow Light "great conjunction" both mixed together in that point you were looking at.
 
Jul 13, 2021
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@notme - what you describe sounds a lot like a flare or meteor burning up in the atmosphere, heading approximately towards where you were standing.
Though not sure, i do believe a meteor burning up wouldn't exist for 30 seconds, leaving a flare as a possibility.

However, I've only seen flares from military planes - and those are shot out in high numbers.
Not sure if there's a civilian application to shooting a single flare
The thing is I've seen all of those things many times and should be able to spot them fairly easily, but this thing was so different. There weren't any planes around at the time, either, so I don't think it could have been a flare. I do a lot of star gazing and have a general idea of distances when looking at things in the sky. Like, when you look at a star or planet you can kind of tell that they're not close if you know what I mean. I was looking at it for maybe 5 seconds before it seemed to get any bigger just thinking it was Venus because it looked exactly like it. The way it grew and shrank in size was almost as though it was computer generated - that's how smooth the transition was. There was no flickering or changes in colour as it grew and it didn't move at all (at least from my point of view).

Thanks a lot for the input, I appreciate it
 

COLGeek

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Apr 3, 2020
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I have seen aircraft lights produce similar results in the past. Angles between viewer, terrain, and aircraft can definitely produce the described effects.
 
Jul 13, 2021
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I remember two years back watching the Perseid meteor shower and noticed something very similar. I would see then streak across the sky but every now and then I would just see a dot of light get bigger and then fade out to nothing. Didn't really think much about it but it sounds a lot like what you had seen. Thinking we were in just in the right place to see head on meteors burning up. But I could be wrong in that conclusion.
Yeah that was one of my initial thoughts when I saw it, but upon reflection I'm not sure if it could be. The size of the light was pretty damn big
 
Jul 13, 2021
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Hi,

All people above explanation could be corrected.
And MAYBE:
I saw your place in my cosmos program and what I found that over England that night it was Venus Light overlapping Mars Light that could make an effect on earth as an illusionaire Hallow Light "great conjunction" both mixed together in that point you were looking at.
That's an interesting idea. The thing is though the light shrank down to nothing and was totally gone by the end
 
Jul 13, 2021
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I have seen aircraft lights produce similar results in the past. Angles between viewer, terrain, and aircraft can definitely produce the described effects.
I've seen that a few times myself, too, but the angle wouldn't be right for that (it was about 20 or 30 degrees off from being straight above me), and the size of the light was just too big
 
Jun 1, 2020
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I've seen that a few times myself, too, but the angle wouldn't be right for that (it was about 20 or 30 degrees off from being straight above me), and the size of the light was just too big
So you think its altitude from the horizon was about 60 degrees or so?
[That would eliminate a motorcycle light.]

The lack of noticeable color makes me think it wasn't a meteoroid coming toward you, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Was Venus is the Western or Eastern sky? [Meteoroids are noticeably brighter when coming from the West due to Earths orbital speed and rotation rate. The altitude is important to this extra luminosity.]

I wouldn't rule out a flare as not all flares are the same. A plane is also a somewhat reasonable explanation, especially if an air strip is nearby.
 
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