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National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 4/2/2012 20:42 (Entered as : 04/02/12 20:42)
Reported: 4/6/2012 7:36:23 AM 07:36
Posted: 4/18/2012
Location: Rockaway Park, NY
Shape: Cigar
Duration:1min 40sec
I recorded an unknown object while photographing the conjunction of Venus and the Pleiades the evening of April 2, 2012.

On the evening of April 2, 2012 at about 8:35 PM EDT, I set up my camera on a tripod to photograph the near conjunction of Venus and the Pleiades star cluster. I was using a Nikon D7000 camera with a 18-105 mm lens set at 105mm. Commencing at 8:41:28PM, I took 6 photographs at approximately 15 second intervals over 73 seconds. The exposure times ranged from 15 seconds down to 3 seconds. I was shooting with an f-stop of f11 and an ISO of 6400. The camera remained in the same position for all 6 exposures.

At the time, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary either with my eye or through the viewfinder. When I later downloaded the pictures into Lightroom for processing, I received a tremendous surprise. Below and to the left of Venus in the first exposure, there was a blue elongated oval of nebulosity about 20 arc seconds in diameter. The object proceeded to move upwards and to the left in each subsequent frame until, after 6 frames it had covered a distance of about 1 degree of arc .

What the object was, I don’t know. I do know, however, that it was not a lens artifact. Lens artifacts don’t move. Right after I took these pictures, I moved the camera to the south and photographed the constellation of Orion with no extraneous objects. If the object was in the atmosphere, i.e. a high flying aircraft, it would have been long out of the frame in 100 seconds. If it were in low earth orbit and moving at a similar velocity to the ISS, it would still have been out of the frame during the elapsed time of the shoot.

Later, I overlayed the photographs with a piece of tracing paper and registered the object in each frame to the background. Fig 7 shows the path of the object over the elapsed 100 seconds of the event.


((ADDENDUM FROM WITNESS))

Hello Peter, Thank you for getting back to me. I've also posted the sighting to NASA's Space Weather website and MUFON but have received no reply from either one. I photographed Venus and the Pleiades the following evening but there was nothing there that wasn't supposed to be. Unfortunately, I was having problems with camera's auto focus, was tired and forgot to use manual focus, so those photos were trashed. This camera is only a few weeks old and is quite different from the Nikon F that I have been using since 1965. I do have some thoughts on both what it was not and what it may have been.
What it was not: 1. Lens flare.
2. An atmospheric craft.
It showed no running lights; It was too slow except for a helicopter and
again, no running lights.
3. An object in earth orbit.
Too slow. Too big? Under power?
4. Cloud.
Weather was clear.
5. Weather balloon.
Not unless it was illuminated by blue spotlights.
6. Japanese paper lantern.
7. Reflection.
Of what off what?
8. Spotlight.
Illuminating what? There were no clouds and judging by that evening's
sunset, very little atmospheric dust.
9. Venus.
Venus was right next to it.
10. Swamp gas.
11. Meteorite.
12. Bolide.
13. Comet.
If it was, I want it named after me.
14. Another planet.


What it possibly could have been.
1. Ball lightening.
2. Some other sort of electrical discharge.
3. Ion flux.
4. Some sort of plasma effect.
5. Something blue shifted.
6. Heated gas containing traces of copper, selenium, indium or arsenic.
7. Aurora?
8. Very small Noctilucent Cloud.
9. ???????????????


Honestly, I am as mystified as you are. As I said in my first email, I photographed this thing unintentionally at an ISO of 6400. The camera was a lot more sensitive to light than the eye.
I'm including a blow up of the object, as far as Lightroom will allow me to enlarge it. As you can see, the pixels at the center are hotter than those toward the edge and there is a faint but distinct halo around the blue glow. This thing is anybody's guess. Please feel free to publish the sighting on your website. I am curious to see if anyone else has any ideas. You can contact me at any time if you have any further questions. I know I do.

((END ADDENDUM))