Jupiter - or something more? Video captures glowing object in sky over Sunderland

A Sunderland mum has appealed for help in identifying a mystery object in the sky.

Charlotte Carlisle captured the bright light above her home in Ashwood Avenue, Marley Pots, last night, Monday, September 26.

“It disappeared, then it came back. I think it was about eight minutes to nine,” she said.

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"It just sort of stayed there, then it disappeared, then it came back. It will have been there for about ten minutes altogether.

"I said ‘That is not a star, it is too big’. I went to the back door and it was there again.”

Careworker Charlotte, 25, turned to seven-year-old son James McMahon for help in getting a better view: “He loves anything to do with science – he has got that many science kits – and he is a keen astronomer, so we got his telescope to have a closer look and he said it looked like a planet.”

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Charlotte thinks she may have identified her mysterious celestial visitor but isn’t sure: “I showed my friend and she said it was Jupiter,” she said.

An Internet search seemed to confirm her theory: “When I saw the article I thought that’s what it was because the colours that were coming off it were the same.”

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Charlotte captured the bright object with her phone

Certainly the solar system’s biggest planet – the gas giant is larger than all the others put together – was unusually bright last night, as it came within just 367million miles of Earth, its closest pass in 59 years and nearer than it will come for more than another century.

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Paul Meade, from Sunderland Astronomical Society, said Charlotte’s video footage was not clear enough to be absolutely sure, but her guess was almost certainly correct: “It probably is Jupiter, as it was by far the brightest object in the sky last night,” he said.

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"In regards to why it’s so bright, this is because right now Jupiter is on the direct opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, meaning that Jupiter is at its closest point to Earth.

Charlotte with science-mad son James
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“Imagine if you could look down on the Solar System, the Sun would be in the centre and if you drew a line from the Sun and through the Earth it would meet up with Jupiter.”