A rather warm Spring day in Adelaide today with a temperature of 25 degree C.
In early June of this year multiple observations were made of an unusual object in the sky. There was an outburst of media reports on the event, and the topic bounced around the world via the internet.
I have left it until now to take a look at these observations as I wanted to see if anyone did an in depth analysis of the sightings, and reached any definite conclusions.
On 6 June 2010 ABC radio reported that a "UFO was seen moving through the sky just before Saturday's sunrise in New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT."
"Some described it as a 'lollipop-type swirl.' Others say it hovered for a while before gradually moving in an eastern direction until it was out of sight. Those who saw the object say photos do not reflect how large it actually was."
Some witness observations were given:
1. Canberra ACT. James Butcher. "Strange spiral light in the sky. It had a distinct bright centre, much like a bright star, indicating an object shedding light trails, spiralling and flatterning out fomr it>" Duration 2-3 minutes. "Descending quickly out of view." Yellow colour.
2. Wollongong NSW. Eddie Wise. 6am. Yellow/green light with a light spiral around it. Moved around. Went behind a cloud.
Geoffrey Wyatt from the Sydney Observatory-thought it was a satellite, space junk or a rocket. While Doug Moffett of UFO Research NSW said the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket was at 18.45GMT 0445 EST. Flight was 9 minutes 38 seconds so this was full hour before the sightings so it could not be the Falcon 9.
3. Sydney NSW. Robyn. Just before 6am. 2 mins. White light in sky like "huge revolving Moon." East.
4. Brisbane Qld. Linda 5.50am. Lollipop swirl came from the West and headed East.
5. Brisbane Qld. Peter lollipop-type swirl. Low and fast. Looked like a row of lights.
6. Pine Mountain Qld. Denise. Shortly before 6am From NW to SE. No noise.
(Source was http://www.abc.net/news/stories/2010/06/05/2919095.htm )
Other observations and comments featured on News com.
Here it was revealed that the event had been seen from Qld, NSW and Victoria. An observation from Werribee South in Victoria was reported by Matt, who aid he had seen an unusual light in the sky, from there at about 5am.
Andrew Jacob, acting curator of the Sydney Observatory said that it was likely to have been the Falcon 9 rocket launch. "He said the timing was right for the Space X rocket to have travelled over the Atlantic Ocean, Africa and the Indian Ocean and be in skies over Australia about 6am.
(Source: http://www.new.com.au/national/ufo-spotted-in-queensland-new-south-wales-and-victoria/story-e6frkvr-1255875840556 )
Another witness report appeared in a blog courtesy of the MUFON UFO group in the USA. At 0550 hrs on 5 June 2010 from Brisbane Qld a person reported seeing an object with a bright light at the centre, but not spinning. It travelled across the sky and disappeared over the horizon after 2 minutes. The witness was facing south at the time and the object travelled from 210 degrees SSW.
(Source: http://naturalplane.blogspot.com/2010/06/australian-spiral-ufo-sightings-falcon-9.html )
An astronomy blog came up with the definitive answer. It advised that the Falcon 9 rocket was launched at 1845 UT which was 0445 hrs Sydney time. The blog also featured a ground track of the rocket's path over the Earth.
"Note how the path goes right over Eastern Australia! The timing is perfect too: about an hour later, the second stage would've been halfway around the world, matching the position and time of the UFO sightings."
"As it happens, the second stage of the Falcon 9 was rotating: this was not supposed to happen and the Space X engineers are looking in to it..."
(Source: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/05/oh-those-falcon-ufos )
From reading the above and numerous other sources, you can see that you get:
1. The unusual spread of observation timings. I have noted that wherever you get a large number of sightings the times vary plus or minus 10 minutes or so. This seems to be due to the fact that people's watches and clocks are set at different time.
2. Sometime completely contradictory directions of travel are given. I found sources saying the object was travelling West to East and others that it went East to West.
3. Little actual data can be found about azimuth and elevation of the object from various places. Thus, it is almost impossible to plot a ground path that accords with the multiple observations.
4. A lack of information of the actual area from which observations were made doesn't help either. The sources consulted said it was seen over a) Qld, NSW & Vic b) NSW, Qld, Act and C) NSW, Qld, Vic & SA. The larger an area an object is seen over, the more likely it is that the object is high above the ground, either in earth orbit or descending or ascending into orbit.
However, all the data is consistent with the cause being the Falcon 9 rocket launched from the USA.
What is really needed in these sort of cases is for a UFO researcher to have appealed for multiple observations, then followed each up to obtain accurate elevation and azimuth readings, thus allowing triangulation to be undertaken.