Did You Know: the weirdest things astronauts have seen in space

Did you know already talked about space. We talked about the sandwich (that nearly killed everyone), we talked about the car to space and about Elon Musk… But this text is about the weirdest things astronauts have seen in space. From a smattering of stars to a breathtaking view of Earth, astronauts see so many awe-inspiring things in space. But sometimes what they see is not only unbelievable but unexplained – there are some truly creepy things astronauts have seen in space. Astronauts have reported seeing weird lights, extraterrestrials, and UFOs. It kind of makes you wonder if they really saw these things or if being in outer space was just messing with their minds.

That time we found a signal from space that might have been aliens.

It was August 1977 and astronomer Jerry Ehman was looking through computer readouts from a telescope tasked with searching for possible alien signals when something rare happened: He actually found something.

The Big Ear telescope, based at Ohio State University, had been pointing at a star called Chi Sagittarii as part of an experiment to search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

Ehman was volunteering with the SETI programme at the time, and one evening he was poring over the printouts when saw a string of numbers and letters: “6EQUJ5”. To this day that sequence is considered by many to be the best candidate for an extraterrestrial signal we’ve ever seen.

Named the “Wow! signal” after what Ehman wrote on the printout, it was a burst of narrowband radio waves at a frequency of 1,420 megahertz. For the most part, natural sources, like galaxies and stars, are what’s called “wideband” radio sources. “Narrowband” sources, like the signal Ehman had found, tend to be human made.

In the years since, people have tried to explain it in various ways. In fact, last year, astronomer Antonio Paris of St Petersburg College, Florida, did come up with a more run-of-the-mill explanation. He found two comets, called 266P/Christensen and 335P/Gibbs and not discovered until years later, that would have been in the observing area on the night the Wow! signal was recorded. Comets tend to release a lot of hydrogen, and 1,420 megahertz is one of the main frequencies with which atoms of hydrogen absorb and emit energy. But the jury is still out on whether this explanation fits.

Major Gordon Cooper Watched A Green Orb Approach Him Out Of The Darkness

During Major Gordon Cooper’s solo journey around the earth, he encountered more than just some space junk. Nearing the end of his 22-orbit trip around the Earth, he suddenly noticed a green, glowing object approaching the Mercury capsule he was flying in. In fact, the rapid approach of the object was even picked up by the closest tracking station in Muchea, Australia. Cooper even went on to describe during a United Nations conference: “I believe that these extra-terrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets… Most astronauts were reluctant to discuss UFOs… I did have occasion in 1951 to have two days of observation of many flights of them, of different sizes, flying in fighter formation, generally from east to west over Europe.”

Neil Armstrong May Have Seen a UFO Parking Lot

Neil Armstrong, besides strolling around the moon and saying some famous words, may have seen some gigantic UFOs in space. According to a source no less dubious than Aliens and Man: A Synopsis of Facts and Beliefs, during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, Armstrong reportedly sent a secret message to NASA stating, “These babies were huge, sir! Enormous! Oh, God! You wouldn’t believe it! … I’m telling you there are other space-craft out here … lined up on the far side of the crater’s edge! … They’re on the moon watching us!”

It’s one of many, many such tales associated with the first lunar landing. Armstrong was notoriously tight-lipped about his experiences in space and never commented on this rumor, likely because there simply wasn’t much factual basis for the claims that he ever saw or said any such things

Vladimir Kovalyonok May Have Watched a UFO Explode 

Major General Vladimir Kovalyonok was part of a crew manning Salyut VI space station in 1981. “When I was working at the Salyut orbital station, I saw something strange in a porthole one day. The object was the size of a finger. I was surprised to see it was an orbiting object,” said Kovalyonok.

He continued, “It was hard to determine the size and the speed of an object in space. That is why I can not say exactly, which size it actually was. [My partner Viktor] Savinykh prepared to take a picture of it, but the UFO suddenly exploded. Only clouds of smoke were left. The object split into two interconnected pieces. It was reminiscent of a dumb-bell. I reported about it to the Mission Control immediately.” Kovalyonok is one of the few astronauts to see something inexplicable in space and talk openly about it afterwards.

Story Musgrave Caught a Glimpse of a Space Eel

NASA astronaut Story Musgrave claims to have seen eel-like tubes swim through space. In the interview above, he explains that he saw this “creature” on two separate occasions. While some immediately dismiss this as space junk, possibly some type of hose that detached from a spaceship, Musgrave is adamant that the white eel had its own propulsion technique.

Musa Manarov Shot Footage Of An Alleged UFO

During an MIR (kind of like a Russian International Space Station) mission 1991, Russian cosmonaut Musa Manarov was watching a visiting space capsule dock nearby. He was filming its approach when he saw an object that looked like it was coming off the spacecraft. But Manarov knew that there was simply nothing that could come loose at that point, and as he continued to watch the object, it floated downwards and away from the capsule. Manarov still can’t explain what he saw up there, but he knows for sure that it was not space junk, as some people have claimed.

Leroy Chiao Saw Some Creepy Lights Zoom Past Him

In 2005, Leroy Chiao was commander of the International Space Station.  While on a spacewalk, Chiao saw white lights aligned in an upside-down check formation whiz right past him. Some people have posited that a string of fishing boats along the South American coast could explain what he saw, but Chiao was 230 miles above Earth when this happened. Those would have to be some seriously strong boat spotlights to be seen from all the way up there. Chiao told Huffington Post, “I’m skeptical of claims that we’ve been visited by aliens from another planet or other dimension, but I don’t rule it out 100 percent.”

Astronauts Saw Fire Burn Without a Flame


From 2009 to 2012, astronauts lit things on fire in space. Not because they were all pyromaniacs, but because they wanted to know how fire behaved in the cosmos. They discovered that fire burns at a lower temperature and with less oxygen and can also burn without a flame in microgravity. Forman Williams, the project leader on the experiments, told Space.com, “Thus far, the most surprising thing we’ve observed is continued apparent burning of heptane droplets after flame extinction under certain conditions.” “In space molecular diffusion draws oxygen to the flame and combustion products away from the flame at a rate 100x slower than the buoyant flow on Earth,” said Dan Dietrich, project scientist, NASA´s Glenn Research Center.

Multiple Astronauts Saw Dazzling Light Shows

During the Apollo 11 mission, astronauts reported seeing “light flashes” in their eyes. The crews of Apollo 12 and 13 were warned about this and reported that they also saw strange bursts of light, even when their eyes were closed. Experiments were conducted on the Apollo 14, 15, 16, and 17 missions to try and figure out what was causing these weird visions.

NASA found that the astronauts were seeing cosmic rays. We don’t see cosmic rays here on Earth because they are absorbed by our atmosphere, but without that barrier in space, astronauts were seeing something no one had ever seen before.

A Conspiracy Theorist Thinks Alan Bean Saw Glass Domes on the Moon


Richard C. Hoagland, a proponent of alternate space theories, thinks Alan Bean saw glass domes from a long-extinct alien civilization on the moon. In an interview, Bean described the space as looking like “black, patent-leather shoes” from the surface of the moon. Hoagland maintains, “Space should be velvet-black. It should be inky-black. It should be infinity, unending, deep, endless black. It shouldn’t be shiny.” The only explanation for Bean’s description, Hoagland concludes, is that he was seeing space through the reflection of a glass dome.

James McDivitt Saw Something He Couldn’t Explain

While on the Gemini 4 mission in 1965, astronaut James McDivitt thought he saw a UFO. In an interview with NASA, McDivitt explained, “I looked outside, just glanced up, and there was something out there. It had a geometrical shape similar to a beer can or a pop can, and with a little thing like maybe like a pencil or something sticking out of it. That relative size, dimensionally. It was all white.”

The press got a hold of the story and ran with it, claiming McDivitt had seen a UFO. It wasn’t until years later, after reviewing a photograph he had never seen before, that McDivitt realized what it was: a reflection of some bolts in the window glass.

He said, “I went back and then I saw what the thing was. And really what it was, was a reflection of the bolts in the windows. The windows were made up of about three or four or five panes of glass, so that if one got broken we still had some pressure integrity. And these little things, when the Sun shined on them right, they’d multiply the images off the different panes. And I’m quite sure that that’s what this thing was.” 

John Glenn Saw Small Glowing Dots That Looked Like Fireflies


John Glenn, who flew on the Friendship 7 spacecraft in February of 1962, suddenly noticed something strange outside his window while in orbit. He immediately reported to NASA that he was watching what looked like a group of little glowing fireflies dancing outside his window. However, it would take a perplexed Glenn and worried NASA nearly a year to figure out what these little fireflies really were.

At first, NASA was concerned that perhaps these glowing dots were flecks of metal coming off a malfunctioning piece of equipment; however, they later realized during another flight that these specks were actually frozen droplets of condensation that were shifting and cracking as the spaceship traveled.

Samantha Cristoforetti Saw the ISS Glow Orange

In 2014, European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was on her way to the International Space Station for the first time when she saw the normally gray ISS was bathed orange light. It was the sun reflecting off the solar panels on the space station, something only a handful of astronauts had ever seen. Cristoforetti was taken aback by the beauty of what she was seeing, and in a blog post, she wrote, “The enormous solar panels were inundated with a blaze of orange light, vivid, warm, almost alien.” Conspiracy theorists hooked onto the words “almost alien” and began speculating that the solar panel reflection was a cover story and she had, in fact, seen a UFO. You can see the ISS change colors at around 11:34 in the video above.

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