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Who should I contact if I see an unknown object in the sky?

Should I contact the nearest observatory? Or is there some official place run by, say, NASA or ESA that take in observations in their member countries?

(Of course, the unknown object can be anything from a weather balloon reflecting the sun behind the horizon to a supernova.)

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But if it's really juicy, let me know first;-) – PearsonArtPhoto Jun 2 '11 at 22:33
I think this is appropriate here, although if the community disagrees I'll go along with that. – David Z May 6 '12 at 5:07

2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

If you are an experienced observer, and know what you are looking at, you can report it to the appropriate agency:

As an amateur observer, though, its more likely that you're seeing something that's already been discovered/reported. Investigate at:

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And some missions specifically have places to report discoveries made with their data. For example, NRL collects sungrazing comets found with SOHO/LASCO. – Joe Jun 2 '11 at 15:27

There's a few things to consider.

First of all, does it move? If it does, it's almost certainly a satellite, airplane, or other man-made object, especially if one is observing close to sunrise/sunset. So, I wouldn't bother reporting or really doing anything with any of these.

Assuming it doesn't move, at least over a short timescale, then report them to the appropriate location that BradC mentioned in his answer.

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