Saturday, January 04, 2014


And then there were three

So we had those two Maple Ridge reports that seemed similar in several ways. Orange lights in the Northwest, moving slowly. Hours apart, but still curiously alike.

And then MUFON got a report from January 2, also in BC, but this time some distance up the coast. Not only that, but the witness was someone who knows his sky. It happened at 9:35 UTC, on Cortes Island.
Outside on my property viewed two unusual bright "stars" close together to the northwest relatively low to the horizon between a pair of trees. Estimated to be magnitude 0 or possibly even brighter, and immediately felt they were unfamiliar in the sky, two stars, that bright, that close together. Then I noticed they were slowly moving together against the background, eventually passing behind a tree, emerging out again on the other side of it, before disappearing from my view altogether behind the next set of trees. My initial thought is that they must be satellites, but it was quite late into the evening, and it is the middle of winter. Far too deep into Earth shadow for a low Earth orbiting satellite to be in sunlight. They were also moving very slow for satellites, so I gave some thought to the possibility of higher orbiting satellites, but they were very bright for that to seem likely. I checked a satellite database on my phone which revealed no passing satellites. I checked for Iridium flares scheduled for my location, but none were scheduled at this time, and it appears even Iridium satellites don't flare that late at night at this time of year here. Plus, there were two of these lights. I considered the possibility that these were like the NOSS triplets. I saw a set of NOSS triplets in 1997, and this was similar. The NOSS triplets are out of formation now, but apparently the Chinese Yaogan satellites fly in formation. I checked their known orbits and they don't seem like they were in the neighbourhood. I also believe their altitude places them too low to be in sunlight at that time of night. I am highly confident that these were not planes. Solid white/yellow steady star-like light, no sound, no nearby airports, very little air traffic on this part of the coast at all really. Honestly, I am stumped. I thought I would share, in case it's of any value to anyone, or if we are fortunate enough to learn of other reports.
I'll note several things:

This guy really knows his sky. He even ruled out known NOSS and Iridium satellites. With his careful use of online resources, it's odd that he didn't mention FlightAware, which would have given some insight into aircraft activity. Nevertheless, an interesting report, even though they were only lights.

But notice both the Maple Ridge sightings and this one from up the coast all report slow-moving orange lights in the northwest. There must be a clue there.

Is it something as simple as some aircraft making runs up the coast? The lack of flashing aircraft wing lights is simple to explain; at a distance, navigation lights are no longer visible, and all you see is a steady light. Furthermore, at a distance, a red light will shift to orange.

I think we need to do an actual observational experiment to see what happens when a standard aircraft flies into the distance. What do you actually see visually from the ground?


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