What is this object in the night sky?

Strange night sky object mkme.org

Last night I took out my Canon 70D to get a few night photos of the sky above Goderich Ontario and caught a bit of a strange object. Being in town there is a tonne of light pollution but I wanted to test out the higher ISO of this camera (far better than my old Pentax).

I took a few shots at ISO 3200, 15 second exposure at F3.5 at 18mm on the kit lens. It was a few hours after sunset and the results were not too bad for the situation. Only a few of these stars were actually visible with the naked eye due to the bright sky in town.

Goderich Night Sky mkme.org

After I did the post processing on the raw files in Adobe Lightroom 3 I posted one to Twitter. Just as I was closing the image I noticed a strange line in it:

Strange night sky object mkme.org

Zooming in tight:

Strange object or satellite mkme.org

So I checked other images shot in the same direction and found I indeed caught it a second time:

Goderich Night Sky Object mkme.org

Sky Object mkme.org

At first I thought this object might simply be an aircraft strobe due to the regularity of the flashes but it seems awfully faint for that.  The frequency does seem to line up though for the 15 second exposure. I did catch an aircraft in another image which shows the strobes, beacon and markers clearly (and much brighter):

plane strobes mkme.org

What do you think it was?  I’m not sure if it could have been an extremely high distant aircraft, some type of satellite with a strobe or ? The time of evening was just right for reflections from satellites and I have heard of some small cubestats etc with small LED strobes on them but I cannot find any mention of specifics online right now.  It sure doesn’t seem likely to be that many stars in a perfect line though.

Let me know what you think it is!

Overall I’m pretty happy with the performance of the Canon 70D. I’m able to make far better YouTube videos as well as get back to taking some nice still images which I haven’t done in awhile. I really miss my 2.8 lens but I’ll get one again soon.

I can’t wait to get out of town and try some shots of the Milky Way this summer. Should be fun. night photography mkme.org



Meteor? Comet? UFO? Skies light up over California Nov-7-2015

The skies seem to have lit up over california tonight (Nov 7 2015). A large object was recorded by people on the West Coast of the United States which lit up the night sky as it crossed high above.  This event was caught by hundreds of people via HD video.  Check out some of the video coverage:

Here is some incredible footage by Julian:

More from Twitter user “Champ”

Another from Elijah here:

Another shot of the breakup from Twitter user jess:

Another by Nick:


At first look it seems like a meteor broke up high in the atmosphere putting on a spectacular display for all those in the area, but there may be more to this story.  The large shock-wave & circular expulsions would seem to imply this was possibly man-made and travelling at high speed.

Some theorize that it was military in nature- which may prove to be fully true as this does resemble rocket staging.  The amazing color and dispersion could also be simply a result of the atmosphere above still being lit by the sun while the ground below experiences twilight/darkness.

Mashable reports this was indeed a rocket firing from the US Navy at Point Mugu Naval Air Station.

If the dispersion and visibility was indeed a result of the rocket plume still being illuminated by the sun, this is indeed, not a new phenomenon.  If you have ever seen a satellite cross the sky just before dusk, or just before dawn- this is the same physics.  The sun can illuminate items above the earth while we on the ground perceive only darkness.

On the heels of the “Great Pumpkin” asteroid which was nearly not detected at all, this has gotten many people in to a bit of an uproar.

In the upcoming days we can expect the experts to weigh in on the source of this “UFO” but to summarize- we were all privy to a spectacular nighttime event which shall now be recorded for all time thanks to cell phones and social media.

Have a theory?  Post it below.