Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Two unusual objects pass over Mildura, Victoria - December 2013

Introduction

In early to mid December 2013, at around 2030-2045hrs, two men were having a barbeque in a West Mildura, Victoria, Australia,  backyard. One man was turning sausages and chops, when the other, who was seated, noticed his friend looking to the sky to the south. The friend pointed and asked "What do you reckon that is, a private jet or something?"

Courtesy Google maps
They then both looked at the sight in the sky. At an angular elevation of about 20- 30 degrees to the south, travelling directly towards them is what was described "...as what looked like a large, fairy light that changed to different colours at a rate of about every second. Red, green, yellow, blue, orange etc in no particular pattern."

At first it had an elliptical shape, and an angular size estimated as "...perhaps 10-20% of a full moon" at that point.

The object approaches

It grew bigger in angular size, as if approaching them, and passed directly overhead. At this point, its shape was "...round with sort of blurred edges like you'd observe on car headlights in fog." At this overhead position, its angular size was estimated to be 50% of the full moon. Even at this point of closest approach, "...there was no solid observable shape like wings or a fuselage though as you'd expect in that sort of bright sunlight." There was no associated noise at any point in the observation.

"As it got directly above as it did this odd sine wave sort of wobble as it passed."

"It continued almost directly due north and disappeared into a bank of cloud in the distance," at an angular elevation of about 20 degrees, north.

A second object is seen

However, this was not the end of the observation. The two men looked at each other, and then noticed "...a second one was moving towards us from exactly the same location" i.e. 20 degrees angular elevation to their south. This second object "...behaving exactly the same way and heading in the same direction." They both watched the second object disappear, and this time were both quite excited, and saying things like "...I can't believe it! and so on."

Other information

1. "It was clearly under cumulus clouds."

2. The entire event, of both lights passing over was perhaps 1-2 minutes in duration. The duration of the observation of the first light was "..less than a minute, perhaps 20-30 seconds from recollection."

3. "Perhaps a third of the sky" was obscured by cloud. It was cloudier to the north. Both objects were eventually obscured by a patch of cumulus, and not seen again.

4. The wind direction was not noted at the time.

5. There had been no thunderstorm activity in that area in the preceding hours.

6. Explanations considered by the observers included a military drone with flashing lights on it, "...but nothing I've researched has really fit the description. It doesn't make much sense to light up a military drone like a Christmas tree." Other possibilities considered was "Some sort of floating LED device attached to a Lantern or helium balloon."

Analysis

1. Mildura, Victoria, Australia is at latitude 34.2 degrees south; longitude 142.1 degrees east.

2. Sunset at Mildura on 10 December 2013 was at 2036 hrs. It set at azimuth 240 degrees, i.e.30 degrees south of west.

3. The calculated angular speed of the objects was about between 4-7 degrees per second.

4. The angular size of each object at closest approach was about 0.25 degrees across. You would expect to be able to see structure on such an angular size if there were structure to see.

5. Weather details are not available on the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website back before August 2014.

5. Cumulus clouds have an average height of generally less than 1000 metres.

7. What could explain these objects?

a. A meteorological balloon from Mildura airport?

The airport is to the south-west of the sighting location. The angular size, description, blurred edges,  and angular speed described by the observers, and the fact that there were two objects, in my opinion, rule out balloons. In fact, I believe we can rule out any types of balloons.

Courtesy Google maps
b. Aircraft?

The lights had angular size but no observable structure. In my opinion, they were not aircraft.

c. Drones?

The angular speed of 4-7 degrees per second, would suggest a drone would have needed to be relatively close to go at this rate. Again, given the extended angular size, the observers should have been able to make out the structure of a drone. I do not believe they were drones.

d. An exotic atmospheric phenomenon?

Could the objects have been something exotic like ball lighting? A search of the ball lighting scientific literature reveals the following:

1. It can be reported in non thunderstorm, indeed in clear skies, conditions.
2. It is generally pear to round shaped.
3. Note the observers commented on the object's "blurred edges." Ball lighting has been seen to have "fuzzy edges."
4. They have been reported to be multi coloured.
5. Their diameters range from 1cm to 1 metre across.
6. The intensity of their light is such that they are clearly visible in daylight.
7. Their duration has been observed as between 1-60 seconds, remaining constantly bright during this time.

However, and this is a big however, the observation of two identical pieces of ball lighting, following the same path, would appear statistically unlikely.

Tentative conclusion

In attempting to find a mundane, conventional explanation for this observation, the closest fit I can arrive at is that the objects were something like ball lightning, or a similar atmospheric electrical phenomenon.

The observers and I, welcome comments from blog readers. Have you any ideas of what these objects were?

2 comments:

  1. Sounds similar to what we saw recently over Middle Park. Only we saw 3 and they were stationary for at least 15mins high up in the sky in a triangle formation before moving off sth east one by one. We both observed them for over 20mins. I took photos and video footage. I uploaded to another website and Facebook. Would love to know what they were. Very bright. Like a star with fuzzy edges. It was broad daylight and we still have no idea what they could have been because they were so bright we could see no structure. They appeared to be under control and one was moving or changing shape independent of the others. It was also the last to leave. The video doesn't really show much just white dots but in real life much more bizarre and bright. I can provide exact time and date from the photos and video on my phone. Like I said they were up in the one spot for quite a while. Appeared to be observing Melbourne from high up over Albert Park Lake.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi ausworkshop

    Many thanks for your comments and observation. I would appreciate hearing from you about the date and time of your sighting, either here on the blog or by email to keithbasterfield@yahoo.com.au

    Do you have any links to the material you posted online, so that I might view it?

    Thanks again,

    Keith Basterfield.

    ReplyDelete