'Breathtaking' bright light caught on video streaks across Central Australia

 abc.net.au  9/17/2017 5:47:53 AM   ABC Radio Darwin By Xavier La Canna

Updated September 17, 2017 15:50:20

An orange-green light streaked across the sky over a wide region in Central Australia last night, sending some scrambling for cameras and leaving others awestruck.

The light seen about 7:50pm (ACST) disrupted a history talk in Gemtree, about 140kms northeast of Alice Springs, and sightings were reported from as far afield as Marla, 400 kilometres away in South Australia.

At least two people videoed the event, one in Alice Springs and another at Yulara, near Uluru.

History talk upstaged by lights

Owner of the Gemtree Homestead, Kate McMaster, said she was giving about 30 guests a history talk at an outdoor dinner when her show was upstaged by the sight.

"I was just standing there presenting the show to the guests and suddenly the night sky lit up," Ms McMaster told ABC Local Radio Darwin.

"All the guests instantly stood up out of their chairs and turned and looked.

"It flew through the sky and it was in the air for almost up to a full minute by the end of it and it divided from one big fireball into four smaller ones and had a huge tail with orange and green in it," Ms McMaster said

'Absolutely breathtaking'

Sandra Patterson who works at Yulara was with her husband Nate when they saw the huge trail across the sky.

"It was absolutely breathtaking," Ms Patterson said.

"There was this amazing glow and it was huge and it was just travelling."

"My initial thought was oh my God, I hope it isn't a message from North Korea," she said.

Ms Patterson said there was no noise, but it seemed to be travelling parallel to the earth and she could see parts of its breaking off.

Her husband Nate Patterson was able to get a photo of the event.

Wayne Campbell from Alice Springs also saw the sight, and had time to go into his house, get his phone, return outside and video the sight for almost a minute.

"It started out as a fireball at first," Mr Campbell said.

"It was amazing."

Most likely space junk falling towards earth

Amateur astronomer Geoff Carr, who runs Star Safaris in Darwin, said the colours described from the object meant it was most likely a piece of space junk returning towards earth rather than a meteor from outer space.

"If there were colours coming off it then that is almost certainly a satellite or a piece of space junk, because of all the components and the different pieces of metal they tend to burn up at very, very high temperatures and therefore they exhibit different colours," Mr Carr said.

"Meteors, or shooting stars as they are probably more commonly, called are much, much quicker."

Many people took to social media to report seeing the same light show.

Topics: astronomy-space, alice-springs-0870, marla-5724, yulara-0872

First posted September 17, 2017 15:47:53

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