|Occurred : 3/12/2004 19:05 (Entered as : 03/12/2004 19:05)
Reported: 3/13/2004 3:23:02 PM 15:23
Location: Columbia, MO
|Bright yellow sphere of light, changing to white and swiftly moving away.
I was driving north on South Tomlin Hill Road. After making the 90º left turn in the road, I was headed west at about 7 miles per hour when I saw a luminous yellow sphere. It was about 45º above my line of sight in front of me and slightly to my right, or north of me, plunging swiftly downward for approximately 1 second, north to south, on about a 30º angle. I thought it was a meteorite. I expected it to burn out, but then it became a bright white light and headed west/northwest. I continued to drive west, speeding up to about 30 miles per hour as the light sped away from me. At this point it resembled a star moving away. It diminished in size until I lost sight of it in the still red glow along the western horizon. I thought perhaps it was a plane but I did not see any blinking lights. There was a jet headed east overhead to my left. The light moving west did not seem to be at the same altitude as the jet. My guess would be that it was perhaps at half the altitude of the jet. Tomlin Hill is higher than the surrounding area making it is possible to see a wide expanse of sky in all directions so I never lost sight of it until it reached the western horizon. I watched it for perhaps 90 seconds.
I live in this area and the Columbia Regional Airport is to the southeast of my home. I am very used to seeing lots of aircraft in the area. I am very familiar with what aircraft look light at night. This did not seem like any craft I’m use to seeing pass overhead at night. It moved west much too fast for a small plane. Even a jetliner passing over head would take about twice as long to cover that same distance. For the brief moment it was plunging down it seemed perfectly round with no distortion around its circumference. Even though I momentarily thought it to be meteorite, there was no smoke trail or streak of light. My impression of its color and shape at this point would be like that of the sun high overhead on a hot hazy day, but not that size and more spherical in shape. It initially appeared about the same size as Venus, still clearly visible in the western sky that evening. It did not twinkle or have any blinking lights. The night was perfectly clear with lots of stars and aircraft visible in the area. I don’t rule out that it may have been a smaller jet of some kind flying at a much lower altitude than that of a jetliner except for its swift downward motion when I first noticed it.