|Occurred : 2/6/2018 18:30 (Entered as : 02/06/18 18:30)
Reported: 2/10/2018 9:44:00 AM 09:44
Location: Garden Grove, CA
|Strange White Light - Orb With Surrounding and Later Trailing White Veil
6 February 2018 starting at approximately 6:25 ending 6:33 PM PST Garden Grove, CA., Approx. 33.796N, 117.963W At approximately 18:30 PM PST, I was in the front yard of my parents' house in Garden Grove, CA. It was an hour after sunset (17:28 PM) so the sky was dark. There is a street light directly across the street plus an outside light that was on and the lights from inside. From this position, close to the house and with those lights it was difficult to see any other objects in the sky or immediately determine the visibility conditions.
I happened to look up over the roof of the house towards the south-southwest and I noticed a light which was brighter in the center and spread out to the sides. It looked similar to moonlight shining through clouds. My best guess at its exact initial azimuth position would be about 195-205 degrees and about 40-45 degrees above the horizon.
I didn't think it unusual at first and pay much attention to it since I wanted to finish working as quickly as possible. A few minutes later I noticed that it was still in the same location. Still I didn't think it unusual and without thinking it through assumed it to be the crescent moon or the planet Venus behind some haze or a thin layer of clouds. Those are the only two objects that could be bright enough to shine through haze or light clouds anywhere near that part of the sky.
After a few more minutes of it being there I wanted a better look. I walked around to the west side of the house. The light was still in about the same part of the sky. This is when it really grabbed my attention since I better seeing conditions in a darker area.I was facing directly south and realized that it wasn't the Moon behind a cloud or haze. It wasn't Venus either which is never in that part of the night sky. I'm a long time amateur astronomer (40 years) and know my way around the night sky well. At times, Venus can be over 40 degrees above the horizon after sunset. But it is never in that part of the sky where this light was. The Moon is excluded also. It was a week past full moon and now in the waning phase. Moonrise didn't occur until 00:09 the next day. So what was it? On my phone, I pulled up heavens-above.com sky chart for the current sky to see if somehow I had forgotten a bright star in that area. This took a total of about 2 minutes. That part of the sky, contains the constellation Eridanus which has no bright stars. When I looked up again, the light had moved towards the south and was continuing to do so. It was now about 20 degrees to the right of Rigel, (0.18 mag.) the brightest star in Orion, and about its same distance above the horizon. At that time Rigel was 42 degrees above the horizon. The light was now clearly moving but not what I would have called rapidly. It had a white veil or a mist trailing it that covered 2-3 degrees. It looked very much like what some call an orb and the veil trailing it much like that of a rocket's exhaust backlit by the sun as it ignites the 2nd stage.
I knocked on the glass door but didn't see my parents. I walked away from the back of the house into the backyard for a better look. It was dark enough there to see other stars and only then was I able to see that the sky was clear with excellent visibility. The wind was calm. The light continued moving slowly in SSE direction with the white veil trailing it at about the speed of a commercial jet nearing cruising altitude. I know that the size, altitude and speed of an object are difficult to determine against an open sky with no objects for comparison. I won't attempt to do that here. I recorded some video with my phone but by then it was too dim to show up.
Feb. 6th Sun/Moon data Sunset 17:28 Civil twilight ends: 17:54 Nautical twilight ends: 18:23 Moonrise none Feb. 7th Moonrise 00:09 Weather Conditions For: DW6512 Garden Grove, CA. D6512 (APRSWXNET/CWOP) Elev: 98 ft.; Lat/Lon: 33.80042/-117.95570 Station Temp. Dew Point RH% Wind Pressure 06 Feb 6:34 pm 59 54 85 CALM 29.92 Truthfully Submitted
I am a former ASE Certified Automobile Technician now a self-employed handyman