Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Intriguing report from Broome - Western Australia

Hi all,

I have been fortunate to have been contacted by an Engineer who had a very interesting sighting, while on holiday in Broome in June 2012, part of which was captured on video. I will first provide details in his own words, then present further information gained from both a telephone discussion, and via email. I thank him for his willingness to openly discuss this intriguing episode.

The sighting
"Wife, kids and I were in Broome on holidays in June 2012 and we went for a drive down to Cable Beach at about 4pm. we walked to grass area near café (we were looking for camel rides) and saw a French couple under the tree staring at the sky.

Broome - courtesy Google maps
"I said, 'What are you looking at?' and they said 'That up there, it's been there for about 20 minutes.'
"We all looked up and saw a white dot hovering. I speculated that it could be one of those drone cameras that take photographs of a town for tourism purposes.
"It moved slowly around the sky above us (went away a little, came back.) It was still in the sky when we drove home at 4.30pm We pulled into our driveway of the hotel and had just gotten out of the car when it appeared out of blue sky (from nowhere) above us to the south and I said to the wife "look" and she saw it.

Broome - courtesy of Google maps
 "It then spiralled slightly, came at us very low and started blinking/flashing like it was taking pictures. It had a faint light on one or both sides initially and a centre light sphere the size of a softball. Then the whole thing lit up like a large flash, we both went "Whoa." It then sped up into the sky and parked itself very high in the sky (perhaps 500 or 1000 metres high - hard to say, over the hotel. I videoed it at this point and in the video you can see it, at least one other white light zip past it closely at one stage (on multiple frames and all with the same linear track.) The second white light can be seen zipping past in 3 frames at around the 17 or 18 second mark."
I posed a number of questions to the Engineer, whose responses are shown below. Please take a moment to read through them.
Q1 Can you estimate the angular size of the object at its closest approach, by comparing it to the size of the full Moon on the horizon, eg was it half that size (full Moon subtends an angle of 0.5 degrees.)
A1 "Yes, I was standing at the back door of the car about to let the kids out and looked over the roof of the car and upwards at about an angle of 25-30 degrees to the horizon and the object appeared to be softball to bowling ball size and only 4-5 metres away in the air.

Thinking back to the initial sighting with the French couple.
Q2 You mentioned it moved slowly around the sky. Was it always on the move, or did it hover, move, hover?
A2 "It moved slowly from west to east (say 5-10km/hr, that type of speed,) hovered for a while, came back from east to west a little later at a similar speed. We were looking quite vertical at the time with the French couple (they were on their backs lying on grass under a tree.) It must of subtended an arc of say 85 degrees to the horizontal to say 60 degrees to the horizontal and then came back again later. It possibly went south a little as well and came back north in a narrow loop when coming back."
Q3 Was it always in the same general compass direction, eg East, or was it seen by you to your north or west etc?
A3 "See above."
Q4 Did its movements remind you of anything, eg bird like, kite like,  etc? If so, what?
A4 "I initially thought it was a 4 propeller drone (perhaps taking promotional video from the air for tourist advertisements) but it was very high (about the same height as in the video.) At a wedding in May this year they had a professional white 4 propeller drone there doing a video of it and it made a terrible din and didn't have anywhere near the ascent rate that this thing had, so I have since ruled that out."

Typical 4 propeller drone - courtesy http://www.ebay.com/itm/Quad-Copter-Drone-RC-HD-Camera-6-Axis-2GB-Radio-Controlled-Gyro-Toy-Helicopter-/151862332574
Q5 At any point did you see structure in it, eg struts, wheels, antenna? Anything else?
A5 "No. Just a softball to bowling bowl sized light with 2 much smaller lights (pin pricks of light, one each side but separated from the main light) coming off the sides. If you drew a softball sized circle on a page and then drew a vertical line through the centre, then draw from the centre of the circle a line each side off the vertical coming off at 45 degrees, along this line dot your pen or pencil on the page say 10mm from where those lines project say 10mm outside of the circle, then that's what it looked like."
Thinking now, about being back at the hotel.
Q6 How did you first notice it being there, ie what attracted your attention to it?
A6 "We had just parked the car. I got out to let the kids out and my wife went to the rear of the station wagon to get some stuff out. Suddenly I saw something to the south and 25-30 degrees in the sky, spiralling very quickly towards us out of nowhere (it was all very quick how it appeared.) It just sort of materialised out of nothing. My wife must saw it appear as well, because I looked over to her and she was staring at it and I said "What's that?" and before she could answer it blinked a few times, the little lights flashed a couple of times and then lit up like a great flash. We both went 'whoa' quite loudly, and it shot virtually straight up into the sky. We then got the kids out, walked up the stairs to our unit very quickly and I got the video camera app going on the phone straight away, when the wife and kids went inside."
Q7 Can you estimate how close it came to you at the closest point?
A7 "4-5m away."
Q8 At the closest point, could you see any structure in it, eg struts, propellers, wheels, antenna, camera lens?
A8 "No, just lights."
Q9 What was the frequency of the blinking/flashing?
A9 "The main light, say every one second. The smaller lights, faster than that, say twice as fast."
Q10 If the centre light sphere was softball size, what was the size of the light or lights to one  or both sides?
A10 "Pin sized. Like pin pricks of light."
Q11 How bright was the flashing/blinking, compare to say a star, the planet Venus, the Moon, the Sun?
A11 "As bright as say staring into a down light in a normal house."
Q12 Can you estimate how long it took to go from close by you, to 'parking itself' in the sky?
A12 "It shot straight up from say 5m off the ground, to very high in an instant, a blink of the eye type thing."
Q13 Roughly what time was it when you first saw it from the hotel?
A13 "Say 4.30pm."
Q14 Roughly what time was it when you last saw it?
A14 "I videoed it not long after 4.30pm at say 4.35pm. I only videoed it for about 25 seconds, but it was there 20 minutes later when the kids went out for a swim. I couldn't be bothered watching it all that time as it was just sitting there. However, after the kids finished their swim at say 5.30pm it was gone. We initially spotted it with the French couple at 4pm and they said they had been watching it for nearly half an hour, so it was hovering and moving slowly about the sky for at least 2 hrs (more battery time than say a drone would have?"
Q15 How did you finally loose sight of it, eg did you simply stop watching it, or did it leave?
A15 "See above."
Q16 If it left, can you describe how it did this? 
A16 "I don't know."
Q17 Can you recall what the weather conditions were like at the time of the sighting, for example was there any wind, and if so can you estimate the wind speed and wind direction?
A17 "Very clear sky. Quite hot and humid. Slight breeze from west to east. As it was only 4pm in the afternoon when we first spotted it with the French couple, the sky was still bright with sunlight and there were no clouds."
Q18 At any time, was there any noise associated with the object? Especially at its closest approach to you?
A18 "Not once. No noise at all."

 The video
The engineer shot a 24 second long hand held video, using his Samsung Galaxy SII phone.

Samsung Galaxy S II phone - courtesy http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxys2/html/
Technical specifications of the phone's main 8Mp camera, reveal that the aperture is F=2.7; f=4.15mm; with a 28.1 degree horizontal field of view, with 4 plastic aspheric lenses.

The video shows a clear blue sky, with a white spherical object in the field of view. The top and left hand side of the screen is framed by the roof of the hotel the family were staying at.

White sphere is in centre horizontally and 1 cm up from bottom edge - click on image to magnify it
Judging from the relative position of the white sphere, and the roof, the white sphere appears to be stationary during the entire 24 second long sequence. It remains the same brightness and size throughout this time. The videographer adds:
"At the 18 second mark you can see in about 5 or 6 frames another bright light zip past the stationary light from bottom left of the still object to top right in the blink of an eye...I have only tonight just noticed at the 16 second mark another object  which is dark grey.."
I slowed down the video and looked at it closely, and I can see both the additional white light, and the dark grey object travel across the screen. I posed a couple of questions to the Engineer.
Q1 I wonder whether it would be possible for you to estimate the angular elevation, and the compass direction that you were pointing your mobile telephone in at the time this footage was taken?
A1 "Probably about 85 degrees to the horizontal. Looking south but virtually straight up. Standing next to the top of the stairs at the hand railing looking up towards the roof overhang."
Q2 In addition, what was the name of the hotel or motel that you were staying at..."
A2 "(Hotel name provided). Car was parked in rear car park on east side of south eastern most unit. Our unit was also on the east side and second most southern unit." 
 In conclusion:

I wish to thank the Engineer for assisting with my documentation of this intriguing incident. Both of us welcome comments, further analysis, and other feedback. Please direct this to keithbasterfield@yahoo.com.au


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