NUFORC Sighting 17855

Occurred: 1995-10-19 01:00 Local
Reported: 2001-05-30 00:00 Pacific
Duration: 10 seconds
No of observers: 1

Location: Colorado Springs, CO, USA

Shape: Other
Characteristics: Lights on object

Multiple, star-shaped, dim yellow lights in straight line

I saw something unusual very early in the morning on October 19, 1995. I was out back at about 1:00 am, just looking at the stars with my binoculars. There were some light clouds to the south but no moon, so it was fairly dark and quite a few stars were visible, at least for this area. (I live in Colorado Springs, CO, and city lights tend to block the stars.) I was browsing in the area about 5º north of Capella (about 50º above the horizon), when some lights came right through my field of view. There were about seven or eight distinct lights, all the same color, a dim yellow. They were shaped like four-pointed stars, all in the same orientation, but not point-to-point. They were in almost a straight line formation, with the line perpendicular to their direction of travel. Two or three of them near the ends were behind the line. They were quite close together, but not in what looked like a normal flight formation--just a group. They were traveling in a straight line, and fairly quickly. My first thought was that some low-flying object had crossed my field of view and was very out of focus, so I quickly tried to focus on the object, but discovered that it was in fact already in focus, and that the lights were really shaped like that. Also, I have very high-quality binoculars, and when lights are out of focus, they don't become star-shaped, they become blurry dots. Just to confirm this, I studied some real airplanes and stars later, adjusting the focus to both extremes. I could not make them look anything like the lights I saw. Furthermore, when I looked at them naked-eye, I could still see the star-shape. The lights traveled from the northeast to the south-southwest, passing almost directly overhead. They traversed about 90º in about ten seconds, keeping a constant speed, as far as I could tell. Their formation changed slightly; I believe they moved a little closer together, with the ones behind the main line moving a little toward the middle of the line. It's possible, of course, that the apparent change in the formation was just a change in the perspective as they passed, but my impression at the time was that their positions relative to each other did change slightly. I would guess they were no higher than an airliner's cruising altitude, and probably quite a bit lower. I may have the impression they were lower because I could see the shape of the lights (not just pinpoints of light like an airplane), and because they traversed the sky so quickly. If they were higher, they would have been huge and extremely fast. This is possible, of course, but my impression was they were somewhat lower in altitude. On the other hand, I never heard any noise, and if they were a normal aircraft traveling at a normal altitude, I would surely have heard the engines. As they passed overhead, I had to momentarily look down while I turned to face them. Since I knew what to look for and about where they would be in the sky, I found them again naked eye without any trouble. But I realized that they were faint enough that if I had not seen them through the binoculars first, I doubt I would have ever noticed them naked eye. While looking at them naked eye, the line of their formation was about the width of a finger tip at arms length. In trying to figure out what they might have been, I've been trying to eliminate possibilities. I do not believe the light could have been reflected from the sun or earth, because the object or objects were almost directly overhead in the middle of the night. They would have been in Earth's shadow. The moon did not come up for a few more hours, so I don't think they could have been reflecting light from it. It seems they were generating their own light somehow. (Admittedly, though, I may not understand the relative positions of the sun, the moon, and the Earth well enough for these assumptions to be correct.) The lights did not appear to be exhaust from rocket engines because of the star-shape and the fact that they did not leave an exhaust trail. They also left no contrail, even though an airplane that flew over just a couple minutes later left a contrail that could be seen for several minutes. I could not see any vehicle or structure connecting the lights. They looked like separate objects. I did not, however, think to look for stars passing between them. The pattern and color of their lights was clearly not that of a conventional aircraft such as an airplane or helicopter (no wingtip lights, the wrong color, and not blinking). Also, they moved too quickly to be an aircraft, unless it was quite low. If it was that low, I would have been able to both hear it and make out its shape. I don't believe it could have been multiple aircraft, first because of the pattern of lights, and nobody but a precision flying team could have been that close together. If it had been a precision flying team, I also would have heard their engines. If they were high enough so I could not hear their engines, they would have been a much smaller formation, and the lights would have been pinpoints, not star-shaped. It was clearly not either a meteor or satellite. If it was a military craft (which we see a lot of around here), it was not heading toward any of the local military installations. In fact, if it was any conventional aircraft, it was not following any of the usual flight patterns we see here. In short, I have not been able to think of any conventional aircraft or natural phenomenon that this could have been. [This report was written immediately, while the event was still very fresh in my mind.]

Posted 2001-08-05

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