Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Zig Zag stars

  1. Nov 16, 2012 #1
    Few years ago while travelling to Bosnia, my cousin and I looked at the sky. We were in a very small village where almost no lights disrupted the visibility of the stars.

    While looking we noticed that there were two stars which were a bit brighter, almost like the north star, except that the north star was not even close to them. What intrigued us even more was that those two stars were very close to each other, one above the other, in almost perfect 45 degree angle and they seemed to have the same brightness. I know usually stars can be very close to each other but different brightness due to different distances, but this wasn't the case.

    After a few seconds, one of the stars started woblling/vibrating, could have been from straining my eyes in order to focus on it, but than it started moving pretty fast in zig zag pattern and disappeared. After a few seconds the other star did the same thing.

    Another interesting thing was that the speed and what looked like perfect zig zag movement was in no way possible for any sattelite or airplane, especially since it didn't flicker in slight redish colors but perfectly white light.

    My cousin and I were happy but also confused that night of what we saw. But it got morbid a few days ago when i talked to my cousin and mentioned of that night, he just couldn't remember it. He is a forgetful person so I'm not paranoid :) but than the sighting of that night boggled my mind and I had to find an explanation for it.

    What could cause two stars, which are extremely close to each other, with same brightness to move zig zag and disappear?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2012 #2
    Are you certain they were stars, and not something else? Fireflies perhaps? Also, why do you say they look like the north star? Why the north star in particular? Also, if this was a rather bright star, why would you need to strain your eyes to focus on it?

    I'm a bit confused with your description.
  4. Nov 16, 2012 #3
    It could be they weren't stars at all, but a Marfa lights type phenomenon. As far as I know this isn't scientifically sorted out yet, but it's believed to be a variant of the "Fata Morgana" type of mirage.


    There's a phenomenon like this that occurs regularly somewhere in Australia and a guy who I believe had a background in engineering investigated it on his own for a while and determined that they seemed to be lights from cars on a distant highway that were being reflected off of some layers of air of different temperature in the sky to a remote point on the ground. So, you may have been looking at reflections of some remote man made lights, probably vehicles.
  5. Nov 16, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    A couple of buddies of mine were once near Marfa, just off the highway between Alpine and Marfa, looking at the Marfa Lights. We were parked illegally on someone's land (oops!) and eventually a Park Service Ranger came by to move us out. After telling him we were there to see the lights, he loaned us his binoculars. He said, "Just look through these before you make up your mind about what those lights are."

    Every darned on of 'em were a pair of distant headlights.
  6. Nov 17, 2012 #5
    Indeed, the wikipedia article on the Marfa lights has a section about a formal investigation:

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook