Camping is a fantastic way to spend your vacation time or simply for a weekend getaway. Getting back to nature and away from the rigors of daily life can be an excellent way to reduce stress.
Exploring nature, hiking, and teaching your kids (if you have any) about the great outdoors are some of the exciting parts of camping.
However, have you ever seen mysterious lights in the sky while camping?
Perhaps you’ve had a busy day hiking, fishing, or traveling to your campsite. It’s now evening and you’re relaxing outside your tent or camper when suddenly you notice a light! It might be still or moving, bright or dull, the light may be of various colors, but what could it be?
Maybe it’s a light from an alien spacecraft which is sometimes referred to as a UFO (Unidentified Flying Object). The chances of the light coming from an alien spacecraft are minuscule, although not impossible!
Sadly, the answer is probably not as exciting as aliens. In this article, the 10 most common reasons for mysterious lights in the night sky will be revealed.
Table of Contents
What Is A UFO?
UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object. Simply put, any object of unknown origin that is spotted in the sky can be called a UFO.
The term UFO is often associated with extraterrestrial visitors, but visitors from another world have never been confirmed. Instead, most lights are the result of natural phenomena, human activity, or celestial bodies.
Where Are The Best Camping Spots To See UFOs?
UFO sightings are common worldwide, but some locations tend to have a higher than average number of sightings
Whether you are camping in the desert in the USA, the outback of Australia, or the woods in Europe, there is a good chance you might get to see some mysterious lights in the night sky.
We’ll discuss some camping hotspots for seeing UFOs later in this guide. First, what could these mysterious lights be?
10 Reasons Why You Might See Mysterious Lights When Camping
There were more than 7,000 UFO sightings worldwide in 2021. Many of these mysterious lights will have an explanation. Let’s now look at 10 reasons you might see strange lights in the night sky when camping.
Most of the time mistaking an airplane for something else is unlikely. The sight of an airplane is something most people see daily. However, there are occasions when an airplane may be mistaken for something else. Maybe it’s flying in an unusual pattern, or the weather distorts the way the airplane appears.
For example, an airplane flying through thick fog may suddenly disappear, or the airplane lights blinking through the fog may be distorted. This kind of example could cause you to think that you are seeing a UFO.
At night, the sound of an aircraft may be dampened if it’s a windy night or the airplane is flying through thick clouds. When you see an object moving silently through the night sky with lights blinking on and off, you could easily think that you are seeing a UFO.
What’s the best way to tell if it’s an airplane you are seeing?
Keep watching and after a few minutes, it should become obvious you are watching an airplane. Through its movements and blinking lights that aircraft use, then you will have no doubt. If you are camping in the vicinity of an airport, then expect to see lots of airplanes!
You can also use online tools that track flights. Military flights won’t show, but most commercial flights can be tracked using apps that you can download to your smartphone.
A helicopter is another common sight in the sky. If you live in a city, then you probably see or hear helicopters most days.
Helicopters move in a different way to airplanes. Helicopters don’t need a runway as they can land or take off from anywhere with the room. These amazing flying machines can hover, fly backward or sideways, and straight-up or down.
Thanks to their ability to land almost anywhere and maneuverability, helicopters are ideal for medical emergencies. Other than military applications, helicopters are often used for rescuing someone suffering from a medical emergency.
When you spot a helicopter in the night sky, you may not realize at first sight what you are seeing. From a distance and when it’s dark, helicopters appear to move strangely. Like all aircraft, helicopters have lights on the outside. These lights have a variety of uses such as increased visibility to others or to assist in landing.
Based on the movement and lights, it’s sometimes easy to think you are seeing a UFO!
How will you know when you see a helicopter?
If you are close enough, you should be able to hear that familiar sound that helicopters make when the rotors are turning. You may also be able to see it clearly by moving closer, or taking a picture and zooming in.
Remember, if you are camping near an airport or military airbase, then any lights in the sky are likely coming from helicopters or other aircraft.
If it’s easy to mistake a regular airplane for something unknown, then mistaking a military aircraft is much more likely. Military aircraft, especially experimental planes, can look unconventional.
When UFO sightings started becoming more regular, it was highly likely to be caused by people seeing experimental aircraft. The Lockheed F117 Nighthawk, Northrop Grumman B-2 bomber, and SR-71 Blackbird jet are some examples of military aircraft that looked like they were from another planet.
Eventually, the military confirmed these planes and others belonged to them. However, until that happened most people reported seeing a UFO as they couldn’t explain these appearances any other way.
Sightings of military aircraft, especially experimental ones, are much rarer these days. That’s because they are often restricted to flight paths that are away from public viewing.
How would you know if you saw a military aircraft?
Military planes are often moving much faster than commercial airliners. This means you don’t get long to look at them to decide what you are seeing. However, the first clue is that they still move the same way as any other plane.
Other things to look for include lights, any markings, and shape.
When training at night military aircraft often drop flares. Flares are used in combat situations to divert heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles.
Once dropped, these flares can burn for up to 30 minutes at a time. They are extremely bright and large. The flares are attached to a parachute which means they remain in the air for quite some time.
Sometimes a cluster of flares is dropped by the plane. Anyone witnessing this could see a string of lights in the night sky, or it may look like aircraft hovering in a formation.
Watching military aircraft drop flares at night isn’t something most people see. Although they can be spectacular to watch, you may think you are watching a UFO if you don’t know any better.
How can you know if you are seeing military flares?
First, are you near an air force training base? If so, then it’s probably safe to say that you are seeing a military training exercise.
If you can clearly see and hear planes flying overhead, this is another good indicator that you are seeing military flares.
When you are in the city looking up at the night sky, much of what you could see is obscured by light pollution. One of the many wonderful things about camping is that you are away from this light pollution and can see much more of the night sky. If you pick the right camping spot, there will be no man-made light spoiling the view!
Stars that are visible in the night sky are trillions of kilometers away. Most of them are brighter than the sun, but because of the distance only appear as dots in the sky to us.
How to spot a star?
You can use apps or other software that provide maps of the night sky. Using these tools lets you identify stars or constellations in the night sky.
Satellites are highly visible to us at certain times of the day and night. The reason we can see them so well is because of their high-altitude orbit. At a high altitude, the satellites receive and reflect sunlight.
Many satellites look like slow-moving stars until they disappear from view. Satellites like the Hubble Space Telescope reflect sunlight in a way that may cause a bright flash in the sky.
Iridium satellites, used for cellular communications, used to be fitted with reflective antennas. These antennas give off extremely bright flashes that are brighter than the planet Venus! Venus is the brightest planet in our solar system which makes this quite an achievement. Modern iridium satellites are no longer fitted with antennas that cause these flashes of light.
The other time satellites cause a stir is when they are traveling in groups. A recent example of this is when the Starlink satellite network was launched. Many people saw a line of lights traveling through the night sky and were concerned until the Starlink launch was confirmed.
How do you know if it’s a satellite in the sky?
The satellites that you can see are usually most visible at dusk or dawn. Any slow-moving object at those times is likely a satellite. There are lots of websites dedicated to tracking satellites. Searching online using a time and location should also tell you if it was a satellite you saw in the sky.
ISS Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) has been in orbit around Earth since 1998. It’s the third brightest object in our sky and once you know how to spot the ISS it becomes easy to do so.
After its launch in 1998, the ISS took a further 2 years to be completed. Humans have continuously occupied the station since November 2000. The station has two main functions – a laboratory and a port for spacecraft. Many countries are involved in the project including the US, Canada, and several European countries.
The ISS is visible from most places on Earth as long as there is a clear night sky. To us on the ground, it looks like a bright star moving from horizon to horizon.
How do you know when to see the ISS?
The easiest way to know you are seeing the ISS is by using NASA’s Spot The Station service. You can sign up for an alert to be notified when it is near your location.
NASA will notify you when you can see the station and where to look. The notification will tell you about the height at which the ISS will appear in the night sky. This measurement is given in degrees. If the measurement is 90 degrees, then the ISS is directly above your head. Less than 90 degrees means the station is somewhere between the horizon and overhead.
Normally when you see a cloud you know you are looking at a cloud. There are occasions though when clouds look like something else, such as a UFO.
Wind and thermal currents can affect the appearance of a cloud. When this happens, the cloud can look round or oval in shape, perhaps saucer-like. If you haven’t heard of this phenomenon before, then you would be forgiven for thinking you are seeing a UFO. Witnessing this for the first time can be a strange sight.
How to know if a UFO is actually a cloud?
The simplest way is to keep watching. Once you realize there is no movement and clearly no mechanical aspect to the UFO you are seeing, then it becomes obvious. It’s not a UFO – you now know it’s a cloud!
Lights Of A Near By City
In the United States, populated areas don’t have perfect views of the night sky. Artificial light from homes, businesses, and other outside light sources causes our view of the night sky to be impaired. Only the brightest stars and planets are visible when looking from heavily light-polluted areas.
If you can find an area with no light pollution, then you are in for a treat! That’s because the night sky has thousands of visible stars. Stars, planets. galaxies and other celestial bodies can all be viewed from Earth with just the naked eye. If you are using telescopes or other viewing equipment, then you can see some truly wondrous sights.
What is light pollution?
The definition of light pollution is excessive, obtrusive, misdirected artificial light. Most light pollution is caused by outdoor lighting.
The light that is emitted from our cities bounces back to Earth and creates what is known as skyglow over a city. This light impairs our views of the night sky, and our ability to see at night.
To avoid light pollution and get a clear view of the sky you must pick a camping spot as far away from inhabited areas as possible. Search for campsites that are away from cities and other populated areas. Doing this means a much higher chance of spotting mysterious lights in the sky and getting a clearer view of the cosmos.
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One of the most unusual weather phenomena that are often mistaken for a potential UFO is ball lightning.
Ball lightning is a sphere of static electricity. It will glow intensely for minutes at a time and can appear disk-like. Sometimes the ball of lightning appears to move or if near an aircraft appears to be following it. Observers have seen ball lightning appear red, yellow, and other colors which all add to the mystery of this weather phenomenon.
How to be sure it was ball lightning and not a UFO?
Scientists can’t fully explain ball lightning or why it happens. However, it nearly always accompanies a thunderstorm. If you are in the middle of a storm and see a bright sphere, it’s likely ball lightning that you are seeing. Make sure to get a picture if it’s safe to do so!
If The Light Isn’t Listed – What Could It Be?
Remember that UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object. Although the term is heavily associated with aliens, the chances of a UFO actually being an alien craft is minuscule. What else could it be that you are seeing?
There is a high chance that it will be one of the 10 things listed above. If not, it could be one of the following:
- A planet – Venus is extremely bright and often visible
- It could be a comet or meteor
- Light from the sun could be interacting with interplanetary dust – this can cause an unusual light
- A drone
There are some planets that can be observed even without telescopes. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all visible to the naked eye at certain times.
Meteors are caused when space debris including rocks, dust, and icefall to Earth through the atmosphere. They often burn up as they descend at high speeds which causes the streak. The Earth is bombarded daily by space debris, but most of it is too small and simply burns up.
How Should I Behave When I See An Unexplainable Strange Light In The Sky?
There are thousands of reported UFO sightings every year and probably many more that are not reported. Any strange light you see in the sky is more than likely explainable. Here is some guidance on what to do when you find yourself looking at something in the sky you can’t explain.
- Don’t panic! You are highly likely witnessing a human-made machine, a weather event, or some other explainable cause of light. That means you don’t need to panic. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings in case you do need to move suddenly but try to stay calm. Remaining calm means you will remember more of what you saw which is important if you intend to report the event.
- Record what you are seeing. Thanks to modern technology most of us always have a camera or video recording device in our hands. Get your smartphone out to record what you can see, and try to capture as much as possible. If you don’t have a phone with you, try drawing as much as you can. Do it as soon as you can while the event is still fresh in your mind.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. The light you can see will almost certainly have an explanation. Make sure not to think it’s a UFO first. Go through all the options and work out what it really is.
- Get more witnesses. The more people that can verify an event, the easier it will be to confirm you saw a UFO if that’s what it is. Make sure to ask anyone with you to record what they see. The more accounts of the event the better.
- Don’t touch anything! If there is any physical evidence that has fallen to the ground, please don’t touch it! Not only could you damage it, but it could be dangerous. Make sure to take pictures and write down any other important facts about what you saw.
Following these tips will help investigators tremendously. If the strange light isn’t easily explained, then further investigations may be made. It probably won’t turn out to be an alien craft, but new weather phenomena and other things are being discovered all the time.
I Saw An Unexplainable Light In The Night Sky – Who Do I Tell?
If you see unexplainable lights in the sky, then you can report this for further investigation. Remember, try to get as much info as you can. Pictures, drawings, videos, and testimony from other witnesses can all help in the investigation.
In the US, there are a couple of organizations where you can report your sighting to.
The National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) was founded in 1974. Reports can be made by phone or using the online report form. Their website also has lots of excellent information relating to UFO sightings.
MUFON or Mutual UFO Network is the world’s largest civilian UFO investigation and research organization. The site is packed with information about UFO research, tools you can use to do your own research, and links to report your own sightings.
Campers in Europe and Australia can make UFO reports to these organizations as well.
How To Spot A Real UFO
Spotting mysterious lights in the sky can be exciting as you try to work out what they could be. If you are planning a camping trip, then as part of that it might be fun to do some UFO spotting and see what you can find in the night sky.
How can you spot a real UFO? Here are some pointers:
- Find a clear spot. The clearer the view of the night sky you have, the better the chance of seeing something amazing. Try to find a camping spot that is as remote as possible – the further away from city lights the better.
- Go to a known hotspot. Certain locations have far more sightings than others. Search online for destinations to go camping that has a higher chance of a UFO appearance. As a bonus, I’ve added a few ideas at the end of this article.
- Sit out at night. The sky is at its most visible during the night. Most UFO sightings are between 11 p.m and 1 a.m. Remind yourself to sit outside during these times, turn off any lights, and keep your eyes on the night sky. Even if you don’t see any mysterious lights, appreciating the night sky can be a fantastic experience itself.
- Use technology. These days there is an app for everything – including the night sky! You can download apps for tracking satellites, stars, and planets. Using this data means you know what you are looking at and can keep an eye out for anything not shown.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. About 10% of Americans have reported seeing a UFO. However, there is nearly always an explanation and alien visitors isn’t it! If you can’t figure out what the light was, then report it with any supporting evidence you may have.
What Are The Chances Of Seeing A UFO While Camping?
Campers in the USA have a great chance of seeing a UFO. This is because there are lots of campsites in America that are out in the open with low light pollution.
Based on data from 2019, the top 5 states for UFO sightings are Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Maine, and New Mexico.
Europe and Australia both have a long history of UFO sightings. Ireland is the country in Europe that has reported more sightings than any other.
To increase your chances of spotting a UFO when camping make sure to sit outside at night. Nighttime is the best time to see things in the night sky. If you camp in an area that has low levels of light pollution, then you have an even better chance of seeing a UFO.
As exciting as it is to see a UFO, there will probably be an explanation for it. Use the list here to work out what it was. If you can’t explain what you saw, make sure to report it to the relevant authorities.
Either way, you will have a cool story to tell!
6 Of The Best Camping Spots To See A UFO
There are many places around the world that have a high chance of seeing a UFO. Here are a few of the best-known.
Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada
Nevada State Route 375 is officially known as the Extraterrestrial Highway. This name is thanks to the high number of strange lights appearing in the night sky that are reported every year.
Many of these lights will be explainable as the highway is near the infamous Area 51 and Nellis Air Force Base. However, it’s still fun to speculate whenever you see some mysterious lights.
Thanks to the location there is truly little light pollution in the desert. Low light pollution is fantastic for watching the night sky and means there is a much better chance of getting a clear view of any strange lights.
Hoia Baciu Forest, Romania
The Hoia Baciu Forest in Romania has a long history of unexplained sightings as well as claims that it is haunted!
The 1960s saw the first UFO sightings when a biologist was able to take photographers of unexplained lights over the forest. On a separate occasion, a military technician took photos of flying orbs. Throughout the 1970s there were numerous other reports of flying objects over the forest. This reputation makes the forest a great spot to see mysterious lights.
Wycliff Well, Australia
Wycliff Well is a small town near Alice Springs. The town calls itself the UFO capital of Australia. Sightings of unexplained lights and objects moving in the sky have been reported since the 1940s. Reports include spacecraft falling into trees and 3 alien figures in plain sight.
There is the Pine Gap US satellite surveillance station nearby which could be a reason. Or, it could be aliens!
The village of Emilcin has had lots of reports of unusual aircraft in the sky. However, one famous account from May 1978 by local man Jan Wolski is the reason this village is on the list.
In his account, Jan states that when out driving his cart he was abducted by extraterrestrial beings. They took him to their spacecraft, examined him, and then returned him. Jan was not hurt in any way and his account has fascinated all that have heard it. In 2005 a monument to Jan’s experience was erected in the village. The inscription says, ‘The truth will still amaze us’.
Roswell, New Mexico
Arguably the most famous UFO site in the world. Roswell, New Mexico is the sight wherein the 1940’s it’s claimed a UFO crashed. The US military always denied this and claimed it was a weather balloon.
Regardless of how true the alien spaceship crashing is, one thing is true about this site. It has some excellent campsites that could allow you to see mysterious lights in the night sky.
Sedona is another well-known location for UFO sightings. In 1997, there were lots of witnesses claiming to see an array of lights in the sky. Once again, the US military had an explanation – this time they said it was flares that were been tested.
The area is packed with excellent camping sites that could allow you to spot some UFOs. At the very least you can enjoy all the area has to offer while on your camping trip.
Seeing Strange Lights In The Sky – Wrap Up
Seeing mysterious lights in the sky while camping can be exciting. At the very least, it’s something fun to talk about with your fellow campers!
Always keep in mind that there will be an explanation. Could it be a distant star, an airplane, or a satellite? Get as much information as you can and search online for clues to what you saw.
There is a possibility you can’t explain it. In that case, report your sighting to the relevant authorities. You never know – it might just be an alien spacecraft!
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