Astronomer explains 'strange light' over Ipswich

THE bright light that caused a stir in Ipswich in the early hours of Saturday morning was actually a planet, according to an astronomer.

The 'unexplained bright light' reported to police and captured by Ipswich City Council's Safe City cameras (shown below) sparked a number of theories.

The most obvious - the light was coming from an army plane - was ruled out by police who contacted the RAAF base after the sighting was reported.

Coincidentally the International Space Station flew over Ipswich on Saturday evening which sparked the second most popular theory; the sighting was in fact the space station.

Yet Kingaroy-based astronomer James Barclay says that's not the case given the space station fly-over - clearly visible to the naked eye - took place between 5.50pm and 5.53pm, some 13 hours later.

Mr Barclay was himself out star gazing that night, although not until 4.30am, and he believes the bright light seen over Leichhardt was actually Jupiter.

A photograph taken from his telescope shows the planet as the brightest object in the sky that night, outshining nearby stars of Spica and Arcturus.

EXPLAINED: Astronomer says residents who reported seeing a strange light in the sky over Ipswich were looking at Jupiter, the brightest planet at this time of year.
EXPLAINED: Astronomer says residents who reported seeing a strange light in the sky over Ipswich were looking at Jupiter, the brightest planet at this time of year. James Barclay, astronomer

"Jupiter is the largest and brightest planet at this time of year (and appears in the western sky)," Mr Barclay said.

"It would have been there the next night, and the next night.

"The only other planet that would outshine Jupiter is Venus which can be seen around 3am in the East."


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