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Sighting Reports 2009

Large Light Several Times Larger Than Star Seen in Night Sky

Photo Taken of Bright Light. (This Photo is Likely the Planet Venus.)
Photo Taken of Bright Light. (This Photo is Likely the Planet Venus.)

Date: January 8, 2009
Time: 9 to 10 PM CST
Location: Austin, Texas

Description: Upon going outside, I saw a bright round light on the horizon over the roof top of a near by house. It was a clear and starry night (2 to 3 nights before the full moon). This light caught my eye because it was 6 times as bright as the brightest star. I immediately assumed it was an aircraft. Yet it didn't appear to move, so I searched the sky for other stars, none compared remotely to this bright ball of light. At first sight it appeared to have small blue lights on either side as an airplane would. I was sitting outside for a good 5 minutes and the light was still there in the same place. I waited for it to move toward me as a normal aircraft would, with bright lights pointed in my direction, but it appeared to be stationary. The blue lights had disappeared and there was never any noise from the light. I called my husband out to witness it and get his opinion. I sent him in for the camera and attempted to take a picture, which is blurred. Ten minutes had passed since I first saw it, and it was still motionless and silent. I begin really wondering what it could be. I went in for about 5 minutes, and returned to find it was still there. I sat and watched it and measured it's position on the horizon to monitor if it would move. It hadn't seemed to have moved in the past 15 minutes. As I watched it seemed to change shapes, 5 point star shape, yet it could have been my eyes playing tricks on me. Two airplanes went by in the next ten minutes, which where higher and much, much dimmer (5X dimmer) and made loud jet sounds as they passed quickly through the sky. Your normal airplane or helicopter, this wasn't! The planes were nowere near the light I was seeing. I had to go inside for about 5 minutes then returned to find it had moved away slightly and was slightly dimmer. I checked my raw measurements to be sure it had moved, and it had. I had to go to my young daughter inside. I was gone 30 minutes. When I returned it to was gone. What was it?

Note: Venus was very bright low on the horizon at 9 PM CST in Austin. Venus had a very bright radiance (magnitude -4.5). The streaking in the photo was likely due to camera movement. A Nikon Coolpix S550 digital camera was used to take the photo. The camera has a maximum resolution of 10 megapixels.