What's in the sky over Magpie?

MYSTERIOUS lights in the western sky just south of Ballarat? Space junk? A weather balloon? Or something else entirely?

The Courier reader Natasha from Magpie sent us a series of photographs of a bright object that appeared above the horizon then seemed to disintegrate over a two-minute period.

The photos were taken on March 28 about 3pm.

Natasha, who did not want her surname published, described the object.

“I was driving up the driveway and I saw a flame in the sky,” she said.

“I stopped and took some photos. It started to dissolve as it fell through the atmosphere.

“It was extremely bright. A white light but it had an orange tinge towards the end. You could not have missed it. It definitely stood out. 

“I’m not sure what it is. A comet perhaps? Or a meteorite? I am quite a logical person. I am a non-believer in UFOs.”

I was driving up the driveway and I saw a flame in the sky. - Magpie resident Natasha

The Ballarat Astronomical Society was initially baffled by the photos.

Meteors generally burn red, yellow or bluish rather than orange, so the initial suspect was a piece of space junk. 

But upon closer observation a weather balloon appeared to be the most likely culprit.

“I believe that it could be some sort of weather balloon or an object of similar nature, gradually falling. It is very hard to discern the exact nature,” Ballarat observatory manager Judith Bailey said. 

“It is not a meteor because of the absence of a streak and hence no initial velocity. It seems to be falling solely under the influence of gravity. 

“There may have been some upper atmosphere turbulence that would have caused it to drift. It seems to be disintegrating in a manner that a deflated balloon would.”