Friday, October 12, 2012

My UFO Sighting

Another hobby of mine is astronomy. I go out with folks and usually spend a good portion of the evening gazing up into the heavens spotting faint fuzzy globs that look more like free floating cotton balls or wispy clouds or a groups of densely-packed stars.  I have been hooked on this hobby since my early teens and now have two pretty nice instruments. Last night I was working with the bigger of the two with four other friends and their scopes enjoying the first clear skies we had in quite a while.

As the sky grew dim, we spotted the Space Station floating in the west and sprinting eastward to the horizon. Bright, big, and just a bit faster than a high-altitude airplane, it's white image and unusual shape were seen by all of the members of the group through their binoculars or unaided eyes. It was quite a way to start an evening's observing session.  The folding chairs came out and everyone started settling into seeing whatever they wanted to find in the plethora of unique offerings in the heavens.

The rest of the evening was uneventful although the sky cleared, the humidity dropped, and the stars glowed prominently everyone dashing back and forth as one person found an object and another and another. Seeing deep sky objects with your own eyes is much like the difference between reading about how to fly an airplane and actually doing it: it's day and night and where the real thrill is in this hobby.

The night ran short starting at about 6:30PM and by 10:00 two of us were left watching a satellite in the northwest making its way to the east.  As it faded from view, I was pointing to where it was disappearing and then my eyes and that of my friend's popped.  Both of us gasped and simultaneously said, "What the X*&% is that?" Moving from just west of north and soaring across the night sky to just east of south were two dimly orange glowing bird-like objects silently crossing the blackness.

We both thought they were birds at first but these two UFOs were flying at what we estimated to be about 1,000 to 1,500 feet and traveling REALLY fast. It took less than 10 seconds to fly from horizon to horizon behaving a little like crows in flight moving not in fixed formation but next to each other changing relative positions as if they were playing like those fun-loving black birds with each other.

Burnt orange in color, I noticed that they both emitted their own light but that light was not enhanced from the light coming from the other UFO. In other words, they gave off light but they did not reflect light from another source. It was weird since the two were less than a wing-width of each other as they silently dashed across the sky.

Something flying that fast or that close to the ground should have made some sort of engine noise that we should have easily been able to hear and as fast as they were flying maybe even a sonic boom. Alas, there was nothing for these well-tuned ears to hear, only the low chirping of crickets and the faint rustling of leaves.

My friend was the first to volunteer the phrase UFO and I explained that while I had not seen one before, other groups I had been with over the years had told me of similar sightings of unusual and unexplained objects that were not stars, satellites, airplanes, balloons, and the usually lighter-than-air craft. Taking most of these tales as urban myths or boastfulness from big egos, I dismissed their tall tales as just that - until now. I was dumbfounded at seeing them in flight and there was something about observing such an object after looking into the heavens at galaxies, nebula, planets, and their moons, but this was something I will never forget. It reminds me of what President Jimmy Carter must have felt when he spotted a UFO himself.

So here is what they looked like as best as I can describe them. There were two of them, identical in every way you can imagine. Like a pair of fighter jets, they flew so close to each other it was like watching the Blue Angels performing tricks but these two were traveling much faster than any earthling-created craft ever could. If you have ever seen a seagull float in the air without flapping, this is very much what their shapes appeared to be. Two gently-arching wings the entire length of the fuselage with no aerodynamic characteristic of thin leading edges or trailing edges whatsoever. Bluntly rounded and smooth, the arches folded into a straight like across a somewhat difficult to discern central tube also blunt and cigar-shaped. The orange glow was a burnt tangerine color revealing stripes or bands on the two curved wings providing clues to their depth perspective.

They were huge and unlike anything I have ever seen in pictures or descriptions before. If they were flying at 1,000 feet, they would have been about the length of a 747 commercial jet. They had curved wings like that of a seagulls when not flapping but without the tapered leading edge or trailing edge, nor did the wings tapir to a point at the outer ends farthest away from the fuselage. The fuselage was more cylindrical than cigar shaped but both the nose and tail were also blunt. If the fuselage was 20 feet in diameter, the arched wings were 15 feet thick and ran the entire length of the fuselage, not just a small portion like a conventional aircraft or a bird. The drawing below shows the arched wings uncolored in the front view but they were as orange as the rest of the craft (a limitation of my graphics program).

The gray stripes along the bottom and wrapped around the outer edges. The interesting thing about the orange glow was that the craft appeared to emit light but not reflect light from the other craft.

One added note is this: as we watched the two move across the sky, there were two different personalities behind the steering wheel. One ons "serious" and flew straight never deviating from the course; the other was playful and rocked its wings and moved a little above and below its partner in formation. I could not help but think of how crows play with each other while a flock of them cross the sky where one dives and nips at another. I guess even these pilots had a sense of humor, something to think about.

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny

I do not use ads in this blog to help support my efforts. If you like what you are reading, please remember to reciprocate, My newest title is called Where, oh Where did the Star of Bethlehem Go? It’s an astronomer’s look at what this celestial object may have been, who the "Wise Men" were, and where they came from. Written in an investigative journalism style, it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

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