ACT News

'Strange lights' above Canberra captured on video

Update: 'Strange lights above Canberra' video creator admits it's fake

Two extremely rare weather events in the sky above Canberra have apparently been captured on video within seconds of each other.

The video, originally posted to Reddit and YouTube, shows both an aurora-like colouring in the sky as well as what looks to be an extremely rare flash of "ball lightning".

The uploader has since declared it to be a fake.

Earlier, Mount Stromlo astronomer Brad Tucker said while the green and red hue was definitely not an aurora, it could be described as an aurora-like phenomenon.

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"The green and red hue is the perfect colour," he said. "It looks like if it was a clear day, that's an aurora, but because it's cloudy and storms, it's not."

Auroras occurred when the magnetic energy of the sun hit the earth's atmosphere, which was also magnetic, Dr Tucker said. The two energies rubbing against each other and charging gases in between is what caused the colours in the sky.

But in this case because of the clouds, it was unlikely to be an aurora, he said.

Describing what happened in the video as an "incredibly rare scenario", Dr Tucker suggested the aurora-like colours and "ball lightning" could have been caused by a "unique, weird and powerful" storm.

And while it's possible the video was faked, it had "the effect of being real", Dr Tucker said.

"Ball lightning" is a documented phenomenon in Australia. It's generally accepted as real, but scientists are unsure of what exactly it is or what causes the phenomenon.

Senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, Sean Carson, said he had never seen "ball lightning" before, but the flash of light in the video seemed to fit the description and he believed it was some kind of lightning.

"I probably get a phone call about ball lightning once every five years, so it's certainly not a common occurrence," he said.

"I'm just as amazed as anyone else."

He confirmed there were thunderstorms over Canberra last night, as was shown in the "pretty amazing footage" uploaded online, and as far as he could tell the video did not appear to be fake.

But the uploader, Johnson Thompson, subsequently posted a second video explaining how they'd "accidentally created" the hoax with Adobe After Effects.

"I didn't intend for it to be taken seriously, but I made an error in judgement and titled the video as if it was real," the uploader said in a post on Reddit.