A while ago, I wrote a post about the large number of Australian "UFO communities" on Facebook.
Since then, I have been visiting a number of these "UFO communities", in order, with the permission of the individual concerned, to collect sightings.
These sightings, which may be a video, together with others submitted by UFO groups, are then compiled into the monthly Australian national level sightings listings. July 2015, will see the publication of the tenth of these listings. After the twelfth, a review will be conducted of their value to the Australian research community. A survey has already been conducted of the individuals who receive the listings by way of an e-mail distribution list.
Are videos of any real value?
One question which was recently directed at me, was "There are numerous individuals in these Facebook communities who go out, with video cameras, take videos and then post them to Facebook or Youtube. Are these of any real value to research?" The person who posed this question then provided their own view by stating "No, they are not. They are frequently out of focus, fail to include any reference points, and often lack details of what was seen visually."
I beg to disagree!
I recall the many nights, years ago, that I spent in the countryside outside Adelaide, watching the skies. I still go out most nights to take a look at what's around.
1. If you don't go out and look, you certainly will not see anything unusual in the skies.
2. If you see something which appears unusual, why not take a video of it?
3. It is true, that some videos are shot without a tripod. It is true, that others have auto focus problems. It is true that some people simply zoom in on the object without including any reference points, such as the horizon. However, some videographers do use a tripod, do use manual focus, and do include reference points. These are of some evidential value.
So, I encourage those members of "UFO communities" who are getting out there to view and video objects in the sky, to continue to do so.
What do they show?
Well,there are a variety of images. There are nocturnal, pulsating lights which change colours. There are daytime, spherical, lights traversing the sky. At first glance they appear mysterious. The descriptions accompanying them tantalise the senses.
However, I need to come back to my investigatory experience. In non-video cases, my analytical experience tells me that, after a competent investigation, 95% of all sightings have a mundane, conventional cause. I suspect that this is also the case for video sightings, that is, 95% of all videos show common objects, sometimes under unusual circumstances.
My own experience
I'd like to give a few examples from my own observations:
1. I saw and photographed a brilliant, white, spherical light in blue sky, in broad daylight. You couldn't tell what it was from the photograph. A video would simply have added another dimension, namely movement, but you still wouldn't have been able to identify the object. I could, for I had seen it at a closer range before taking the picture. It was a plastic bag.
2. Another time, at night, I saw a cluster of fast moving, lights travel across the night sky. A video would simply have recorded the same as my visual observation. I identified the lights, through binoculars as birds. Zooming in the video may or may not have revealed this.
3. I once saw a brilliant, white, light rise out of a cloud at 5am. A video would have shown just this. If I'd been vague in what direction I saw it, you would not have known it was the planet Venus. The cloud moved, the planet did not.
I have a number of other such personal observations. If it wasn't for my "sky watching" activities I would not have the knowledge and experience that I have today.
In most of the current crop of videos, as with visual observations, we need an analysis. In order to analyse, we need data. The basic sort of data we need includes:
1. Where was the video taken? Suburb, street etc.
2. In what direction was the camera pointing? East, north-west?
3. What reference points are on the video? For example, the roof of a known house; a street sign; the Moon?
4. Has the videographer also included images taken of stars, planets, the Moon, aircraft etc with the same camera/phone? These are useful for comparison purposes.
5. What are the equipment details? Camera make and model; was auto focus used; what magnification zoom?
6. What was seen by the naked eye. Provide a description of what you saw with your own eyes. Description; behaviour, trajectory.
So let me summarise, at this point. Individuals who get out and look at the sky, take videos and post them, are to be congratulated and encouraged.
However, these same individuals need to be willing to supply basic data along the lines above. If they do not, then people will continue to criticise them, and quite rightly so.
In my opinion,. what is needed, in these video sightings, is publication of data, and then analysis. Who should do this?
Data publication can only be undertaken by the person who takes the video. If they want others to take their work seriously stop publishing videos showing what is said to be "an amazing ufo" and start publishing information!
Analysis could be provided by independent people, always working hand in hand with the videographer. After all, we are all after the same objective, namely identifying the object shown, and adding to our knowledge of them.
So to conclude this post; get out there; look up at the sky; take a video; document the sighting and help us analyse them.