National UFO Reporting Center Case Brief
November 16, 1999

NUFORC Home Page


At 1612 hrs. (Pacific Time), NUFORC received a telephone call from Air
Traffic Controllers in an airport tower near Newburg, New York.  The
controllers reported that they had just been witness several minutes
earlier to a cluster ("four or five") of very bright lights, somewhat
yellow in color, arranged in an "in train" formation, which coursed
generally from west to east in the sky to the north of their position.
One controller stated that it was one of the fastest moving objects he
had ever seen, estimating that the formation had passed from a bearing
of 280 degrees (magnetic) to 30 degrees (magnetic) in an estimated four
seconds, i.e. through an estimated 120 degrees of arc in four seconds.

During that first, brief conversation, several other calls came in from
Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois from individuals who reported a
seemingly dramatic aerial event, as seen from their locations.  The
objects reported by these individuals were highly disparate, ranging in
description from a single orange fireball passing slowly overhead, to
multiple green, white, or yellowish point sources of light in a large
formation seen streaking overhead   Some witnesses reported that the
lights passed generally from west to east, in some cases from almost
horizon to horizon, in an estimated 30 seconds to 3 minutes (highly
variable estimates).

During the subsequent four hours, NUFORC received approximately 80-100
telephone calls regarding the incident from the following states:  NY,
WI, MI, OH, PA, IL, TN, GA, IN, KY, WV, VA, and Washington, D. C..
Noteworthy is the fact that telephoned reports were not received from
several other states that are located either between, or adjacent to,
those cited above.  This fact may be due to local weather conditions in
those states.

Some of the more noteworthy reports NUFORC received are briefly
summarized here:

1.  Racine, WI--A young man reported that he, his sister, and several
other adult witnesses had been witness, at approximately 1805 hrs.
(Central), to a dramatic green fireball, seen approximately 30-40
degrees above the horizontal plane, pass from southwest to northeast in
the southern sky.  They reported that the object was visible for an
estimated 1-2 minutes, and that it appeared to turn to the the north and
descend to the horizon, perhaps into Lake Michigan.

2.  Centerville, OH--An adult male reported having witnessed an
estimated 8-9 brightly luminous objects pass generally from west to
east, seen approximately 25 degrees above the horizontal plane in the
northern sky.

3.  Central Pennsylvania--An adult mail reported witnessing a cluster of
meteors, moving "in trail."

4.  Cleveland, OH--An adult male reported witnessing a cluster of
approximately brightly lighted objects moving "rapidly" from west to
east in single file.  They appeared to stop for 2-3 seconds, and then
continued toward the east.

5.  Indiana--An adult male, driving on Highway 370, reported having
witnessed a single fireball pass overhead.  The witness reported that
the fireball had been visible to him for an estimated 1-2 minutes.

6.  Middleville, MI--An adult male reported having witnessed 9-10
objects, "olive green" in color, pass from west to east.  He estimated
that they had been visible to him for an estimated 18 seconds.

7.  Ft. Wayne, IN--An adult male, who identified himself as an amateur
astronomer, reported having witnessed a single, orange fireball pass
overhead at 1917 hrs. (Eastern time).  He stated that the object had
passed "slowly" from directly overhead, to the horizon to the east of
his location, in an estimated 20 seconds.

8.  Ashland, OH--A young woman reported having witnessed a single white
light with a long yellow tail pass from west to east.

9.  Steuben, NY--An adult male reported having witnessed and estimated 4
brightly luminous objects pass from west to east in the sky to the south
of his location.  He estimated that the objects had been visible to him
and two other adult witnesses for an estimated 15-20 seconds.

Approximately 200 written reports, detailing the above event(s), are
posted to our web site at <www.ufocenter.com>.  Many of them have been
submitted by airline pilots, astronomers, and other seemingly qualified
observers.
 

ANALYSIS OF EVENT:

Given that NORAD apparently declared that the event was not due to space
debris (Source:  Mr. Stan Gordon, <PAUFO@westol.com>, a well known UFO
investigator in Pennsylvania, who contacted NORAD), our tentative
conclusion is that the event probably was caused by a rather large, and
dramatic meteor.

However, some of the apparent peculiarities are discussed below:

1)  Duration of the Event--Many witnesses reported to NUFORC that the
object, or objects, that they had observed  moved across the sky very
quickly, passing from almost horizon to horizon in a matter of perhaps
10 seconds, or so.  Other witnesses reported events apparently lasting
for 1-3 minutes.  These discrepancies may be explainable by different
(absolute) velocities of the lights at different times, by different
(angular) velocities from different vantage points, different distances
to the objects from different vantage points, and several other possible
causes.

2)  Number of Objects--Some witnesses reported seeing many objects in a
formation; others reported a singular fireball.  In addition, different
witnesses reported a broad array of colors in the formation, or of the
fireball, to include red, yellow, green, blue, turquoise (?), and white,
and others.  This discrepancy, we feel, may be explained by
fragmentation of the original object, and by different velocities of the
object(s) at different stages of the event.

3)  Maneuvering--Some people reported that the objects they had
witnessed were maneuvering relative to one another.  Other witnesses
reported that the multiple objects were in unwavering position to one
another.  We feel that the best explanation of this may be that
fragments may have been moving at different velocities, and they may
have changed their respective courses in response to rapidly changing
conditions.

4)  Geographical Range of Sightings--It is difficult for us at NUFORC to
understand how a single meteoritic event, even a dramatic one, could
generate reports from all of these states.  Some witnesses in
Pennsylvania reported that the object, or objects, they had witnessed
were last seen coursing to the southeast, they believed.  Investigators
are seeking to contact these witnesses, in order to take azimuth and
elevation readings from the witnesses' location at the time of their
sightings.

Anyone who witnessed the above event is encouraged to submit a brief
written report, using the Online Report Form found on our web site.

((Summary prepared at 1600 hrs. (Pacific) on Friday, November 19, 1999,
by Peter B. Davenport, Director, National UFO Reporting Center.))