How to Spot a Drone at Night

What Does a Drone Look Like at Night in the Sky: How to Spot It?

Spot drones at night easily with our simple identification guide.

Learn how to spot a drone at night

Credit: Pexels

From using artificial intelligence to unmanned systems like drones to keep the public safe, the military is evolving continuously. Drones are aircraft that are piloted by computers onboard or by remote control. Law enforcement forces use drones at night to monitor threats and take preventive measures on time. Though these drones are hard to detect with the naked eye, sometimes you can feel them in your neighbourhood. It will be easier to identify a drone precisely if you are familiar with how it appears in the sky at night. In this blog, we’ll help you find out what a drone looks like at night and tips to spot it in the sky. 

What Does a Drone Look Like at Night? 

Drones are unmanned aircraft that usually look like stars at night. One can easily identify a drone spying on them through its lights. Drones emit dim lights while they fly at night. Therefore, you should be careful when spotting the drones, as you may not notice if you are not watching for them attentively. Drones usually emit two types of lights, which are highlighted below: 

  • Navigational Lights: These are solid lights that shine in a straight line. These lights are less bright, which makes it harder for you to see them clearly. 
  • Anti-collision Lights: The anti-collision bright light in surveillance drones helps you identify the drone easily when it is nearby your house. 

Hobbyist drones have a set of four navigational lights—two red and two green. You can easily spot them at night. Furthermore, commercial drones can be seen for up to 3 miles as they have powerful strobe lights. To put it simply, most drones look like red and green dots at night in the sky. 

How to Spot a Drone at Night in the Sky? 

Given below are some ways to spot a drone at night in the sky: 

  • Buzzing Sound: Most modern military drones are designed to be quiet; however, they might produce a buzzing sound when flying at low altitudes in the sky. Therefore, be especially aware of any strange noises in the night sky that do not sound like usual aeroplane engine noise.
  • Check Lights: Law enforcement drones are mostly equipped with integrated LED lights. It might be a drone if you see red, white, or green lights in the night sky. So, be attentive while spotting the drones at night in the sky. 
  • Drone Detection Apps: Many online applications are available that can help you detect drones spying on you. Simply download the app, and it will record the WiFi signal that the drone’s pilot uses to control it. 
  • Acoustic Sensors: One of the major ways to detect drones is by using acoustic sensors. These are valuable for identifying police drones at night in regions with poor signal reception and suboptimal reflection. Even in cases where a drone is silent, they can distinguish between various types of drones by listening to the sound produced by the propellers.  
  • Infrared and Thermal Imaging Cameras: Police drones employ advanced cameras featuring infrared and thermal imaging for nighttime operations. These cameras are invisible to the naked eye; however, are detectable with specialised equipment like night vision cameras. Since infrared thermal imaging picks up heat from objects, it can produce clear images even in total darkness.

What Should You Do If You Find a Lost Drone?

Undoubtedly, drones have made spying easier for police. However, they are also becoming popular among hobbyists and photography enthusiasts. As a result, drones are flying in the sky more often than they were a while ago. The likelihood of finding a lost drone is increasing with their increased use. Perhaps it is on your terrace, or it may be lying at your doorstep. So, what should you do if you spot a drone? 

First and foremost, put in the best efforts to search for the owner of the drone. Check the FAA number available on the drone to trace the owner. You can also use the camera of the drone to communicate with the owner if it is still powered up. Additionally, you can find QR codes on some drones that can help you trace the owner. 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

You can detect a drone flying in the sky with your phone. All you need to do is download the drone remote identification app. These mobile applications record the unencrypted WiFi signals used by the drone to talk to its operator. 

Drones at night are seen flying in the sky for numerous reasons, including search and rescue, firefighting, surveillance, law enforcement and security, agriculture, entertainment, videography, thermal inspections, land surveying or mapping, public safety monitoring, and others. 


In conclusion, identifying and spotting drones in the night sky requires keen observation and some visual and technological tools. Drones, with their distinctive anti-collision and navigation lights, often resemble stars. You can spot them by listening for unusual sounds and employing drone detection apps, acoustic sensors, or infrared and thermal imaging cameras. As drones become more common, finding lost drones also becomes more likely. You must do everything in your power to locate and contact the owner of the drone. 

Why trust Brownspace?

At Brownspace, we write about what matters most to the audience. We do well-researched work to provide in-depth knowledge of drones. Additionally, we interview people using drones to ensure the credibility of the drones used and offer real-life user experience to our readers. 

Bwown Space Author

Hi, drone enthusiasts! Born with a natural curiosity for the skies, I developed a love for drones early in life. I began flying drones in 2017 and have since piloted some of the best drones available, such as the Yuneec Typhoon, DJI Mini, Mavic Pro, Hover Camera, and Phantom 3. With passion for drones and expertise gained over the years, I would love to share my knowledge of drones at Brownspace. Stay tuned for an insider’s perspective about drones. 

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