|Occurred : 8/20/2001 21:33 (Entered as : 8/20/01 9:33 PM)
Reported: 8/20/2001 22:43
Location: Rolla, MO
|bright orange lights associated with aircraft.
We traveled to the southwest side of Rolla to watch the International Space Station pass over from the southwest. We knew that the shuttle would be nearby. About 9:32pm, just before we saw the two orbiting vehicles come into view, a bright orange light flared to our SSW about 10 degrees elevation. It lasted about 3 seconds and went out. These lights continued to come on and off for 3-5 seconds at a time for about 18 minutes. They ended promptly at 9:50 pm. With me was my wife and teenage son. My wife had binoculars in the car, and with them I could see very faint strobes literally swarming in the area where the lights appeared and disappeared. As many as three bright orange lights might appear at once, but there were probably as many as five different sources. Attempting to follow or count very faint strobes in binoculars is not easy, but it appeared that as many as five different strobe sources were present as well. The brightness difference between the stobes and the orange flares was extreme enough that I couldn't tell if it was the strobing crafts that became brilliant or if the source was just very close by. I enjoy stargazing as a hobby and am familiar with varied phenomenon of the night sky. The appearance of the bright orange lights was in color like that of Mars, which was close by this evening for comparison, but with the brightness of Venus, about 1 to -1 magnitude in range. The area would be towards the south side of the Army base Fort Leonard Wood, or could have been even further southwest. There was no practical way to triangulate for a proper distance.