|Occurred : 2/6/2016 19:00 (Entered as : 02/06/16 19:00)
Reported: 2/7/2016 9:25:44 AM 09:25
Location: Claysburg, PA
|Two satellite looking objects stopping, reversing, rotating and changing direction before disappearing in the distance.
To give some background on our sky-watching experience, my 14-year-old son and I have spent a great deal of time watching satellites in the evenings. Over the last five years, we have spent 1-2 hours lying on a blanket in our back yard having contests to see who can spot the most satellites. We have done this on a total of at least 50 separate occasions. I am also registered on the Heavens-Above web site. I have taken printouts of satellite and rocket passes outside with us and waited for the passes to occur. We have watched rockets tumble, which look like a blinking satellite as the sun reflects off the different surfaces of the rocket. We have watched Iridium Flare and International Space Station passes as well. To summarize, my son and I know what we are looking at. We understand the difference between an aircraft and a satellite passing overhead. Well, at least that’s what we thought, until the evening of February 6th, 2016.
We were skiing at Blue Knob Ski Resort, located approximately 6 miles west of Claysburg, PA, at an altitude of 3120 ft. The sun set shortly after 17:30.
At approximately 19:00, we were on the Route 66 ski lift traveling slowly in a southwesterly direction. I was sitting on the left and my son was sitting on the right. The sky was completely clear and dark. With unlimited visibility, I commented on how beautiful the night sky was because of the lack of light pollution compared to where we live, which allowed us to see many more stars than we would normally see.
Just as we were passing over the Upper Extrovert ski trail, my son said “Oh my God! Look at those two satellites traveling together, side by side” as he pointed in a southeasterly direction. I looked in the southeasterly direction to where my son was pointing, near the constellation Orion. At approximately 80 degrees from the horizion, I immediately saw what looked like two satellites with a brightness magnitude of approximately -1 traveling in a northerly direction. The distance of the two objects from us seemed to be the same as a typical communication satellite just outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. The brightness magnitude of the two objects remained constant throughout this entire observation.
There were no audible sounds from the two objects whatsoever. The two objects were separated by about 10 degrees and traveling approximately two to three times the velocity of a normal satellite. The distance between the two objects was decreasing and after approximately 4 seconds, I was expecting the two objects to pass over each other. Instead, the two objects remained closely together and continued to travel in a northerly direction for another three to four seconds. The two objects, very smoothly, in approximately two seconds, decelerated to a stop. It was very clear that they came to a stop because the large number of stars surrounding the two objects gave us a good point of reference.
After approximately one second of both objects hovering still, they smoothly and slowly reversed direction and traveled a short distance of approximately 1-2 degrees in a southerly direction for approximately three to four seconds. Both objects slowly and smoothly came to a stop and hovered for approximately two seconds and simultaneously rotated so that the object on the west exchanged positions with the object on the east.
Both objects, very smoothly, began to accelerate in a northerly direction at a rate of acceleration that took both my son and! myself by surprise. It only took approximately two seconds for both objects to accelerate to a velocity of two to three times that of a typical communications satellite.
We continued to watch both objects travel in a northerly direction for approximately ten seconds as the distance between the two objects increased to approximately 10-15 degrees.
At this point, as we continued to slowly travel in a southwesterly direction on the ski lift, the bright metal halide lights from the Mid-Way Station drop off point coupled with the increasing distance of the two objects from us prevented us from continuing our observation of the objects.
As this observation was occurring, my son and I were verbalizing our observation to each other as we started to realize that what we were witnessing was something we have never seen before. We were cursing and yelling to each other as we described what we were seeing. I said things such as “What the heck?!” as my son shouted, “Oh, my God! They stopped!” I shouted “Oh my God! They’re going backwards!”. These type of statements mixed with a few choice curse words were uttered throughout the entire observation.
As we passed the Mid-Way drop off station, my son and I were in shock as we sat in stunned silence for an unknown amount of time. Now that we were in a fully illuminated area, I turned to my son and he turned to me. We locked eyes for a few seconds. My son broke the silence with “What was that?” I returned “I don’t know.” We continued to the top of the mountain in stunned silence.
We made one more trip down the mountain and decided that we would call it a day since neither of us could concentrate on skiing.