Strange lights in the sky reported by pilots around eastern Colorado on Thursday

Nathaniel Minor/CPR News
The night sky looking south at Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area north of Buena Vista, Colorado.

Pilots on different routes that crossed the state Thursday night reported seeing strange lights in the sky above eastern Colorado, audio recordings of air traffic communications show.

One pilot of a Southwest flight traveling from Phoenix to Minneapolis told air traffic controllers around 11 p.m., he saw bright lights appear, move from left to right and disappear in the sky outside the plane.

The pilot of a United plane headed from New York to Las Vegas confirmed the sighting to controllers at the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center, which manages flights in a region that includes eastern Colorado, western Kansas and southern Nebraska.

The Southwest pilot told controllers he saw the lights appear and disappear in the sky near the Big Dipper constellation. In another radio dispatch, which CPR News was alerted to by Daryl Orr, a storm-chaser who lives in Cheyenne, Wyo., the pilot told controllers the lights were white with a greenish tint.

“Now there’s two or three different lights, but they all disappear after about 15 seconds.”

Listen to a section of the Southwest pilot’s radio dispatch:

An air traffic controller later sent out a radio alert to all pilots in the area that they’d received five reports with the same description.

“All the aircraft that have seen it have said it was by the big dipper,” the controller radioed.

The lights did not cause any disruption in air travel.

One pilot describes the lights as “moving around”:

CPR reviewed radio traffic between air traffic controllers and pilots recorded and archived by

In another conversation with controllers, one pilot suggested the lights might be related to Starlink, the satellite internet company operated by Elon Musk. Starlink satellites are often visible from the ground and can appear as flickering orbs of light as they cross the sky.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and representatives from Southwest Airlines and United Airlines did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Denver International Airport said they had not received any reports of strange lights.

CPR News also asked officials with the National UFO Reporting Center if they’d received any reports in the area but did not receive a reply before publication.