Objects in the Sky

Artificial Satellites Aurora Chinese Lanterns Corona Fireballs
Meteors Planets Sun Dogs Various Atmospheric Phenomena Zodiacal Light

This information is intended for the non-astronomer who wants to identify what they are seeing when they look at the sky.

The first thing to do is get acquainted with what the night sky looks like. Here is a chart of the sky over Armagh right now.

The above chart is from the excellent Heavens Above site which is also used for the satellite data on this page.

The National Schools Observatory web site has very good horizon views of the sky for the current night.

Another horizon view is available from Fourmilab.

Some notes on tonight's sky are available from Earth and Sky.

You can obtain images of any part of the sky from SkyView, the Internet's Virtual Telescope.

The Night Skies Network shows live views of the night sky from amateur astronomers.

Up to date news about astronomical events can be obtained from;

The Irish Astronomical Association Bulletins

The Irish Astronomical Society

The Space Calendar


☆ Planets

The appearance of the sky changes according to time and place and everything on this page assumes Armagh as its location. You should customise it to reflect your own location. With this chart you should be able to quickly identify if what you are seeing is a bright planet such as Venus, Jupiter, Saturn or Mars.

A view of the horizon in the early evening may make things clearer.


☆ Artificial Satellites

Iridium Flare

Digital photograph of an Iridium flare
taken at Armagh by Tolis Christou.

If the object is moving slowly across the sky then it may be one of the larger satellites.
Here are the dates when the International Space Station (ISS) is visible from Armagh.

If you saw a very bright flash of light, it may have been an Iridium flare. Check the flares which will be visible for the next seven days.

The Heavens Above site has daily predictions for all of the brightest satellites.


☆ Aircraft


☆ Meteors

Movies of Meteors and Other Phenomena

International Meteor Organisation

Leonid Meteors

Anomalous Meteor Phenomena


☆ Fireballs

Fireball at Armagh Observatory - 2005-09-03


Fireball FAQ

Fireball Observations

Fireball Report Form International Meteor Organisation

Fireball Report Form Armagh Observatory

Cloudbait Observatory - October 2002

Japan Fireball Network

Tagish Lake Fireball Photos

The famous Peekskill Fireball - Picture and Movie


☆ Chinese Lanterns

How to distinguish between a chinese lantern and a fireball


☆ Aurora


2003 November 20th, Armagh Observatory

The Aurora Borealis are also known as the Northern Lights. Here is a full explanation of this beautiful phenomenon.

The Aurora Australialis are the Southern Lights which are visible in the southern hemisphere.

The Northern Lights Centre

The Aurora - Poker Flat

Space Weather

October 2003 Aurora at Armagh

October 2003 Images worldwide

January 2005 Aurora at Armagh

Early October 2001 Images

Tips on Viewing the Aurora

Photographing the Aurora


☆ Zodiacal Light

Zodiacal Light
Zodiacal Light from Paranal

Image and Definition

Zodiacal Light and Gegenshein

Zodiacal Light and False Dawn

Picture 1

Picture 2


☆ Atmospheric Halos

Atmospheric Optics Site

Pictures and Information from ESO



☆ Corona


Lunar Coronae 21st January 2005
(John McFarland)

Formed when thin cloud passes in front of the Moon, or other bright object. The small droplets of water in the cloud diffract the rays of light from the Moon en route to the observer's eyes. The size of the water droplets can be determined from the radii of the coloured coronae, with the smallest droplets producing the largest coronae. Coronae can be up to 5 or more degrees (10 or more lunar diameters) in radius.

Lunar Corona


☆ Sun Dogs

Picture from Atmospheric Optics


☆ Various Atmospheric Phenomena

Rainbows, fogbows, green flash etc

Last Revised: 2012 January 25th