Occurred: 1997-01-24 19:00 Local
Reported: 1997-01-29 00:00 Pacific
Duration: 3 hours plus
No of observers: 5

Location: Alta, UT, USA

Shape: Other

SUMMARY: A "moving star" similar to a satellite stopped, hovered, and darted around for over 3 hours. A telescope revealed a round shape.

I observed what I took to be a satellite, until it shifted direction, and then stopped. It was slightly brighter than the brightest stars in the sky, and not an unusual color. It would hover for awhile, then move, sometimes appearing to spin in circles. I first looked at my watch at 19:11, after having watched the object for perhaps 10 minutes.The object hovered in basically the same part of the sky for over three hours, at times appearing to drift, and then bring itself back to where it was before. It often just hovered perfectly still, and looked like a star. It was roughly overhead of Alta, very high, a little to the northeast. Witnesses who saw it move included a member of the Alta Fire Department, a dispatcher for the Alta Marshall's office,And two members of the astronomical society at the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake. They happened to have a nice 3inch wide telescope, and were photographing the moon. With a higher powered eyepiece, the telescope showed the object to be pefectly round, with a darker round circle in the center. I think the telescope was about 12000x, if I recall correctly. The object was absolutely still in the telescope.I think the image in the telescope was consistent with looking up at the underside of a perfectly round flying saucer. No lights were apparent on the object. It appeared to be reflecting light from the sun which gave it the appearance of a star to the naked eye. Conceivably, this was some type of satellite being put into a fixed orbit, except for the erratic motion. With my arm outstretched, it moved the length of my thumb, at the most. I would like more information on types of satellites. Personnel at the Hansen Planetarium weren't aware of any satellites that can behave like that. I am a former Assistant Chief of the Alta Fire Department.

Posted 1998-03-07

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