Jetstar ‘meteor’ confusion

MYSTERIOUS OBJECT: Dan Hunter took this picture at Barwon Heads on Monday morning.

By Luke Voogt

A mysterious object lit up in the sky on the Bellarine Peninsula on Monday morning with one photographer scrambling to snap it.

Clifton Spring’s Dan Hunter thought he was witnessing a satellite falling out of the sky or a meteor after waking up about 6am.

“I normally go to Point Lonsdale in the morning but for some reason I went to 13th Beach,” he said.

There he spotted a bright object hurtling through the sky.

“I was intrigued to know what can fly at that speed and stay in the sky for 10 minutes,” he said.

“You look up and you’re like, ‘what’s that?’ And then it just disappeared. It’s just mind-blowing.

“There’s no way in hell that’s a plane.”

Dan posted the photo on an online sharing website, sparking a furious debate about its authenticity.

The photo’s metadata confirms it was real.

But it was, in fact, a plane, according to Canberra-based NASA officer Glen Nagle.

Melbourne air traffic control identified the plane as Jetstar Flight JQ701 from Melbourne to Hobart, flying at about 7500m when Dan took the photo.

“With the photos taken very early, the aircraft at that altitude is catching the sunlight as the sun was rising,” Glen explained.

“A meteor entering the atmosphere would only last a few seconds.”

The streak following the object was a contrail – a trail of water vapour from the plane, Glenn said.

“The close-up shot clearly shows that reflection and the contrail being lit up.”


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