What could I have seen today?

Today, November 24, I was driving to Austin from Waco along I-35. When I was around Georgetown or Round Rock, a bright light passed directly overhead and went seemingly due south (not quite parallel with the highway). I was able to see it for 2-3 minutes. It didn’t appear to have flashing lights like I would expect to see on an airliner. It looked more like just the headlights of a plane, but the plane was heading away from me.

I think I can rule out a satellite because the sky was overcast with high clouds, although I couldn’t really discern how overcast at that time of day. Also, it was brighter than most satellites, and those that are as bright are not bright for very long. I think I can rule out a bolide because it lasted too long. I would also expect a bolide to have been above the clouds and backlit them. Whatever I saw did not.

I did see several other planes flying around the same time, and they all appeared to be much lower and all also had clearly seen flashing lights.

Don’t know how thick the clouds were, but Iridium flares are pretty bright and last for a bit.


I think the clouds were the outflow from Hurricane Sandra - pretty thin by the time they got to Texas, but they would have illuminated if lit from behind. Here’s why it wouldn’t have been an iridium flare.

  • It was too bright (I’ve seen iridium flares, and while they can be quite bright at the peak, they are never really bright for several minutes.
  • The time was about an hour early for an iridium flare. According to an iridium flare forecasting site, there was one visible in the area (assuming no overcast), about an hour later.

heavens-above.com/flaredetails.a … t=0&tz=CST

I was recording a gps log at the time. I just opened it up to confirm I didn’t remember the time one hour off for some reason. Looking up the log, I realize the highway was heading just east of south at that point (between Old Settlers Boulevard and 79 on I-35 in Round Rock, Texas, not just west of south as I had thought. That doesn’t really change things much. Whatever I saw was angled a couple degrees left of my own heading.

Could have been a light aircraft with its landing lights on and strobe turned off or inoperable. This would explain the lights that you saw. I often do not use our strobes in VFR conditions.

Aliens … somebody had to sat it !!!

I missed it, forgot to take my tinfoil hat off!