APOD: How to Identify that Light in the Sky (2017 Sep 24)

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
D^3

Re: APOD: How to Identify that Light in the Sky (2017 Sep 24)

Postby D^3 » Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:27 pm

One source of mysterious lights, especially near water, is the reflection of terrestrial or watercraft lights off of birds such as seagulls. Some feathers are very reflective. They have been mistaken for UFOs numerous times. I have seen this effect myself, and was surprised by how bright they can be. In my case, the birds were not that far away, and it wasn't hard to figure out that they were birds, but there are other recorded cases where it was more difficult to discern. The flight path of the birds could be quite complicated.

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Chris Peterson
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Re: APOD: How to Identify that Light in the Sky (2017 Sep 24)

Postby Chris Peterson » Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:00 am

D^3 wrote:One source of mysterious lights, especially near water, is the reflection of terrestrial or watercraft lights off of birds such as seagulls. Some feathers are very reflective. They have been mistaken for UFOs numerous times. I have seen this effect myself, and was surprised by how bright they can be. In my case, the birds were not that far away, and it wasn't hard to figure out that they were birds, but there are other recorded cases where it was more difficult to discern. The flight path of the birds could be quite complicated.

Not only near the water. My allsky camera network regularly records owls flying overhead and mistakes them for meteors. In the middle of the Rockies.
Chris

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kpatter

Re: APOD: How to Identify that Light in the Sky (2017 Sep 24)

Postby kpatter » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:11 pm

Two years ago from the Southeastern US I saw a stationary (at least it appeared stationary) blinking light while looking SSE. It was fairly high in my field of view, but still south of my zenith. It blinked about every 10 seconds. I saw it a few times over the course of a couple of weeks at about the same time of night. I could find it any clear night. I figured it was a geostational (sp?) satellite that was spinning and reflecting sunlight. Has any one else seen something like that?

landbarge

Re: APOD: How to Identify that Light in the Sky (2017 Sep 24)

Postby landbarge » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:31 pm

A quick, bright blue tear drop? space staff returning from ISS, almost ready to land.

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Ann
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Re: APOD: How to Identify that Light in the Sky (2017 Sep 24)

Postby Ann » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:35 pm

D^3 wrote:One source of mysterious lights, especially near water, is the reflection of terrestrial or watercraft lights off of birds such as seagulls. Some feathers are very reflective. They have been mistaken for UFOs numerous times. I have seen this effect myself, and was surprised by how bright they can be. In my case, the birds were not that far away, and it wasn't hard to figure out that they were birds, but there are other recorded cases where it was more difficult to discern. The flight path of the birds could be quite complicated.


I, too, have been startled at the sight of seagulls flying fast at night.

Ann
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