I recently observed a phenomenon during a nighttime flight over upper Midwest of USA-specifically over Marquette, MI. In what is a lightly populated area, I observed several very large rectangular regions glowing bright orange yellow, as if they were illuminated. I believe they were drainage ponds from iron mines. I theorize that the moon was at a critical angle and I saw a speculat reflection from these orange ponds that can be seen on google earth at 46°24'22"N 87°31'01"W · 1,244 ft. Have you ever observed or heard of such a thing? It was approx 01hr on Jan 11, 2019. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Hi. By "01hr" do you mean 1:00 AM? Please read the help center; it contains a lot of good advice for asking and answering questions. $\endgroup$
    – Spencer
    Jan 12, 2019 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ I saw something similar in western Wisconsin while on a flight from Seattle to JFK earlier today. I didn’t think to note the time, but it must have been roughly 5:30 PM local time. There was a moon, but what I saw was so bright and orange that I find it had to believe it was a reflection, and it remained visible as the plane proceeded, which would have changed the angles. I judged the approximate location from the flight display and looked on Google Maps later; there are some large grey rectangles just east of Whitehall, WI, that are in about the right place and look like they might be artific $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2021 at 3:16

1 Answer 1


The orange lakes are most likely tailing dams, also known as tailings storing facilities given that they located near an open pit iron ore mine.

Once iron ore has been mined it is usually sent to a processing plant to increase the grade (amount) of iron in the product the mine exports. It does this by removing as much waste material as possible. Sometimes the waste is low grade iron ore (very low concentration of iron);.

Usually the ore is crushed, ground and treated chemically. What is deemed as waste (tailings) is sent/dumped to a tailings dam. There will always be an amount of unrecoverable iron in the tailings which will give the tailings a reddish color. Low Moon angles may accentuate the red or orange coloring.


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