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National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 12/18/1996 22:00 (Entered as : 12/18/96 22:00)
Reported: 3/13/1998 12:05
Posted: 2/25/2003
Location: The Woodlands, TX
Shape: Light
Duration:5 minutes
Saw bright orange light (size of Venus) with diffuse and changing orange haze 1/2 size of moon around central light.

I was in the kitchen of my house in The Woodlands, when an odd light in the sky caught my eye. The light was orange colored. I at first thought it might be a dim aircraft landing light. The location is within an approach area of Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH). However, the direction which the light followed was not consistent with approach or departure paths for IAH. I looked at the light through the window and trees, and it seemed to be moving a little erratically as seen through the branches of the pine and hardwoods in the back yard. I grabbed my binoculars and headed outside. Again, the color and intensity of the light was unusual. the binoculars were handy for watching birds at the feeder. I went to a clear area just behind my house, and observed the light with binoculars and naked (I wear glasses) eye. The object continued moving from the East to a point nearly overhead, before changing direction to the North. The night was clear, cool (dry), and moonlit. The time just before 10:00 pm. I did not hear any sound related to the object. I could not estimate the distance to the object. It was not nearby, but could have been any height above, say, 5,000 feet on up to the edge of the atmosphere. I cannot estamte the speed of the object, except to say that it moved from Zenith to Horizon in about 3-4 minutes. The visual size of the central (bright) part of the object was like observing Venus. The color of the object was a golden orange, similar to a dimmed incandescant lamp, and similar to the orange sodium vapor lamps now in commom use for public lighting. The central part was not flashing, but there were some variations in the brightness. Although "bright" I would not characterize the light as "intense". Around the center bright orange light, was a diffuse halo, or fog, of the same color as the central light, which would expand and contract, sometimes appearing to swirl around the central light. As the object was moving away from me, the intensity of the central light did not seem to diminish, as it would were it a lamp with reflector. There was no other light, nor shadow, nor detail observable with the object. It did seem difficult for me to keep a good focus on the object with either my eyes or the binoculars. The light approached from the East, till nearly overhead, then moved off toward the North, visible for perhaps five minutes before going behind trees to the north, and still visible through those trees until obscured by more dense growth and the northern horizon. This could give some indication of the altitude of the object; were it very high, it should become very small (due to distance) as it nearded the horizon, however, the size did not go very small. Consider a low-flying plane versus one crusing at 35,000 feet as it departs your area. This object appeared more like the low altitude craft as it reached my horizon, even though I could not estimate its height or distance while higher in the sky. The light moved slightly erattically in speed and direction. It did not make any dramatic changes in direction or speed, but did seem to wander around a bit. After I lost view of the object, I stood there contemplating what it was I maight have seen. I observed other aircraft approcahing and departing IAH. These craft were easily identifiable with the naked eye, red, green navigation lights, white beacons and landing lights, even lights on in the passenter cabin. It was trivial to make out the outline (shadow) of the shape of overflying aircraft against the backdrop of stars and moonlit atmosphere. The orange object seen a minute before shared none of these traits. Every other questionable object I have ever seen in the sky finally resolved into something obviously of local origin... except this one. (end)