|Occurred : 9/3/2012 16:45 (Entered as : 09/03/12 16:45)
Reported: 9/23/2012 9:46:46 PM 21:46
Location: Irvine, CA
Duration:about 9 minutes
|6 extremely bright lights, surrounding a dark bodied craft, moving very slowly
September 3rd, 2012. Irvine, California. (about 40 miles south of Los Angeles) Approximately 4:45 pm, warm clear day, bright sunlight, sun was a bit off to the west, and there was no clouds. It is the afternoon, the sun is arcing towards the west, but still quite high in the summer afternoon.
I’ll try to present the experience without interpretation first, just as you would experience it, then save my interpretations for the end.
While doing the backstroke in my pool, I was looking up at the clear, bright blue sky. There were a few birds, and occasional passing airplanes in the sky. Nearly directly overhead, (just very slightly to the east, but still very substantially overhead), I saw a VERY bright light, fairly large, (compared to the apparent size of commercial aircraft at cruising altitude) or possibly a tight group of lights. It looked very, very bright, like the brightest of stars, only this was visible in the daytime. It also looked quite a bit bigger than any star you see at night. I only mention the word “star” here, to give at least some idea to the reader, as to what caught my eye. It looked stationary. That seemed odd to me, because all aircraft I know of have some motion. I wasn’t quite sure if it was moving or not, so I swam over to the edge of the pool, stood stationary myself, and placed the edge of the roof of my house in my sightline to the object, so as to better determine if it wa! s moving. Comparing it to the tiles of my roof, I could see that it was moving, but VERY slowly. There was no trail, and the lights stayed a brilliant white color. After a couple of minutes, I was so curious about it’s apparent odd size, extreme brightness, and lack of velocity, that I went inside (dripping wet!), and got my Tasco 10x-40x63 zoom binoculars. I tried to look at the object freehand without steadying the binoculars, but the image was too jerky. I tried using a table first, then a chair, but it was still too shaky. I found that the best way was to lie on the pool deck, and look almost straight up. Once I got situated, I again used the “zip focus” center wheel, and focused on the object first without any zoom at all, (no zoom gives a wider field of view, and makes it easier to initially locate an object in the sky). I could clearly see that it was not a single point of light, but rather, a dark tubular craft of some sort, with several extremely bright lights clos! e around it. It looked to be about 6 lights. I initially thoug! ht I was looking at a satellite, with solar panels reflecting the bright sunshine, and I wasn’t alarmed at all. If I tried zooming in all the way, it would get blurry, so I couldn’t zoom all the way. I could only zoom in about 2/3rd of maximum zoom, without it going out of focus. Even though my arms were fairly supported, the image was still somewhat shaky. I kept trying to brace myself better, to get a clear, more stationary image. At times, when I could hold steady, I was able to see the object fairly clearly, or as clear as possible. The lights were so extremely bright, that it made it hard to see the dark body of the craft. As best as I could make out, the body was a long, dark, and seemed to connect to the lights around it. It looked as if a parking lot light standard had drifted up into the sky, with about 6 lights, connected by a dark body. During this time, the object was slowly but steadily moving across the sky, towards the east.
I got my wife and daughter to come outside and check it out. My wife tried looking through the binoculars, but was unable to locate it through the eyepieces. She’s unfamiliar with using them, and hard to teach. By this time, it had traversed from being directly overhead, (“0” degrees) to about 75 degrees, down towards the neighboring houses’ roofline. It was getting smaller, and farther away as time went by. I had already seen the best view of it that I was ever going to get, so I gave up following it across the sky, and went inside and searched the internet for coo-berating sightings. There are no coo-berating sightings so far. I called the Irvine Police Department, but they had no reports at all, even in a city of over 250,000. Nasa’s website did have a projected orbit path of the International Space Station, that showed it crossing southern California about 5 pm.
Interpretations- At first, I thought it was a commercial jet aircraft, maybe at 35,000 to 40,000 feet. As we know, even though they may be doing over 500 mph, they appear to move very slowly across the sky, because their great height makes it hard to gauge their velocity. But this object wasn’t even moving fast enough to fit that model. It was either moving much slower than that, or it was “orbiting” at a much greater altitude. From the time I first sighted the object directly overhead, until the time I quit tracking it, it made about a 75 degree arc across the sky. A commercial jet aircraft, at typical altitude and cruising speed, would not take the 9 minutes or so that this object took to traverse that arc, and was visible for. A commercial jet does not fit this model for that, and others reasons, below.
Sometimes, a shiny aluminum jet, especially like those used by American Airlines, can turn just right, and if the surfaces are angled right, you can catch a glint of the sun, making the aircraft appear very bright in the sky, even on a bright, sunny day. Only this craft had no typical wings, like you can see on 747s and the like, even at their typical cruising altitudes. And, this craft was much, much brighter than that. I thought the lights were possibly solar panels, which may reflect the sunlight much better than shiny aluminum.
This object was VERY bright. Just like a star, but you don’t see stars on bright sunny days. And there were several points of light around the dark bodied craft, so a star doesn’t fit the model.
Living close to several airports, I am familiar with what a commercial aircraft looks like, flying at typical 35k-40k feet, 500+ mph. The observed velocity, brightness, apparent altitude, did not fit this model.
The International Space Station was actually my first guess. There are some aspects of the sighting that are congruous with the ISS. These are- A central body, and solar panels surrounding, that may reflect sunlight, and this object seemed to be following an orbit of sorts. And there are aspects of this sighting that are not congruous with the ISS, (and space junk, + dying satellites, for that matter) First off, in my internet investigation, I learned that satellites need to orbit at 17,500 miles per hour to fight gravity, and stay in orbit. This speed generates centrifugal force that combats gravity. If they slow down, their orbit decays. They also orbit at least 60 miles up, above most of the artmosphere. Some orbit at 100 miles up, or 400, or 1200 miles altitude. No satellites orbit within ten miles of the earth, because the atmosphere would burn them up at 17,500 mph, and the atmosphere would slow them down. As a decaying satellite orbit hits the atmosphere at 17,500 mph! , they get hot, and burn up on re-entry. In contrast, this sighting of mine was of an object moving excruciatingly slowly. This fact is completely inconsistent with space junk, the ISS, falling satellites, communications satellites, spy satellites, and it is also inconsistent with geo-synchronous satellites, that are in geo-synchronous orbit.
In fact, all satellites, regardless of whether they are geo-synchronous, or orbiting at 17,500 mph, are completely inconsistent with this sighting. This is because satellites orbit above the atmosphere, and are not visible in the daytime. When the sun lights up the atmosphere, you can’t see the light of stars, nor man-made orbiting satellites. The atmosphere is too bright to allow any viewing of objects like satellites, that orbit 60 miles up, or 400 miles up, and more. The first 10 miles of atmosphere are the thickest, and if you are going to see anything flying with the naked eye, or binoculars, it isn’t going to be outside the first ten miles of atmosphere. The only reason you can see the moon sometimes in the daytime, is because it is so extremely huge, that it allows your eye to perceive its’ presence.
It is true, that if you know exactly where to look, you may see an “iridium flare” even in the daytime, where the light of the sun is briefly reflected towards your location, from a passing satellite. This is an extremely brief flash, (and a rather dim one at that), as it is moving at 17,500 mph. This fact is totally inconsistent with my sighting, that lasted about 9 minutes, and was extremely bright. An iridium flare is only visible for the time that the solar panels are angled so as to reflect the sun back to your eye. Because they are moving so fast, and because they don’t rotate to keep the sun focused on you, they only make a very brief, small, dim dash of light. Check ‘em out on YouTube. They aren’t much to look at, and are completely inconsistent with what I saw, which was an extremely bright, and continuous cluster of lights, that moved extremely slowly, had a dark body, and took about 9 minutes to traverse a 75 degree arc across the sky.
On YouTube, you can see videos of the ISS passing overhead at nighttime. It streaks across the sky very rapidly. Not as fast as a “shooting star”, but much much faster than what I saw. The ISS also appears fairly dim. Somewhat like a small star. Even through my binoculars, the ISS would still look like a dot of light, and you wouldn’t be able to see the degree of detail that I saw, not at all.
What else could have a dark body, be surrounded with about 6 lights so bright, they rivaled the sun, make absolutely no noise, stay at the same brightness for 9 minutes, and take 9 minutes to traverse 75 degrees across the sky? Helicopters could arc across the sky like that, but they make a ton of noise, and this didn’t look anything like a helicopter at all, (nor a Harrier jump-jet, or even a group of weather balloons, nor a blimp) Even if you could attach lights as bright as stars on any of those crafts, they still wouldn’t look like what I saw. A group of balloons would not reflect the sun like what I saw. This object had lights so bright, they were like small suns in themselves. The reflection of the sun off of satellite solar panels is the closest earth-borne analogy to the brightness of light that I witnessed. But as stated earlier, satellites are completely incongruous because of altitude and speed, and the fact that you can’t see them in the daytime. But the sun/sola! r panel possibility is closest to explaining the brightness and sheer quantity of light emanating from this craft.
Like I said, it looked like (closest analogy possible coming up right here), a parking lot light standard, (minus the pole, just the light cluster), that floats within the visible atmosphere, with no apparent means of motion, and a dark, central body.
So to wrap up, my sighting is inconsistent with the ISS, space junk, any known satellites, balloons, Harriers, commercial aircraft…I can’t think of anything made by mankind that fits all the criteria. It is definitely an unidentified flying object. Any ideas?