Unidentified Green lights in the night sky….



Well… there was a news story a few days back about a pilot that had seen a strange orange light in the night sky near Chicago I think and claimed that the light was “not of this world”. It was later found out that it was likely a military flare (suspended by a parachute.) (Reportedly those flares put out 2 million candlepower..) Then LAST night on the local news there was a mention of people calling in reporting a green light in the sky. Today it’s all over the local news….

From wlos.com (Asheville, NC)

Green Light Mystery

People all across the mountains are buzzing about a beaming mystery.
Dozens of people reported seeing a green light in the sky around 8:00 Wednesday night.

Viewers who emailed and called News 13 described it as a fiery green ball. It was also spotted by Clemson University students who say the large light fell from the sky. Local astronomy experts say the green color is unusual. Tim Barnacle with the Asheville Astronomy Club believes it was fireball-like meteor called a Bolide. He says it’s a meteor that burns in the atmosphere. The American Meteor Society has updated its web site with “fireball” sightings in North Carolina and Virginia last night.

wbir in Knoxville has a story…

Wyff (Greenville, SC) has a story on it….

The Charlotte Observer has a story…

There have even been similar sightings in Wales, UK in the last 24 hours…. according to this bbc story.

The Drudgereport has had the headline from the Charlotte Observer and WYFF on their front page which has generated buzz from beyond just the region.

So…

tonight… a bit after 11 PM local time, I was taking out the compost. On the way back to the house I saw a pale green streak at the edge of my vision and quickly looked up to see a green streak across the sky going from the apex or peak (zenith) of the sky towards the north-northwest and it lasted all of MAYBE a second. It was a very quick streak (which would be more consistent with a meteor or space debris.) It likely wouldn’t be a flare like the last week reported orange “ball” (unless the parachute failed and they’re experimenting with colors other than orange for military flares.)

When I got in the house to relay the story it was 11:10 PM (Today is Thursday January 25, 2007…) So, the sighting was probably 11:09PM.

I’ve seen many comments on the news stories talking about space junk being the possible cause. I don’t know if I buy this explanation fully. From what I understand there are THOUSANDS of pieces of space junk in orbit and have been for some time. Why would there suddenly be a change in the pattern of it’s fall through the atmosphere? What are the odds of big enough pieces to make streaks like that falling around the same time over a couple nights?

The BBC story says the first sighting was ~730GMT (apparently on the 24th..) the sightings in THIS area on the 24th were around ~8PM local time or ~1AM GMT the 25th… My sighting would be ~4:10AM on the 26th GMT…

One of the first things I did after coming back in was to start searching the internet for those news stories that I halfway noticed earlier this evening….

But… the google search came up with some interesting references… This from October 4, 2005 pittsburghlive.com describing a 10 second green streak across the sky that was described by the military (Air Force) as most likely a meteor. That object was seen from Indiana to Virginia… AGAIN from over a year ago… “Greenish light can indicate the re-entry of a booster rocket, but that likely was not the case yesterday”… and they sum up with this…. “Smaller meteors fall every night, Philpott said.
“We call them shooting stars, which are no larger than a grain of sand,” she said. “A large piece is a lot less common. I’d estimate that it occurs once every 10 years or so.”" Philpott was cited as a presenter from the Carnegie Science Center Buhl Planetarium.

There’s also this article from Australia ~2004 which seems similar.

And this from Singapore, January 7, of THIS year.

I know some have cited the recent Chinese test of destroying a satellite…. I have a hard time assuming that one test is responsible for all the recent sightings. There have been at least 3 different streaks in the last 2 days… the time of the sightings just doesn’t add up to be any fewer I think. So the simplest explanation is meteor activity, unless there has been some active launch activity and we’re seeing booster rockets burning up on re-entry.

Meteor activity would seem to be the best simplest explanation, but the only question I would have is WHY are we seeing at least 3 such incidents within a few days? Did a larger rock break up and come in smaller parts?

In mid December there were observations of meteors from the Gemenid shower hitting the moon The quadrantid meteor shower was expected January 3/4. Although the American Meteor society notes that “February, March, and April evenings have another notable feature. An unusual number of sporadic fireballs come in this interval, possibly one every few nights.” (Maybe we’re getting an early start?)

There’s a log of Fireball sightings on their website (the last was the 23rd). That log might be interesting to try to compare (especially once new information is posted?) They define a fireball as F. fireball:
a bright meteor with luminosity which equals or exceeds that of the brightest planets.

THIS definitely qualified. If I held a nickel at arms length and it gave off light like a multi-led light…. (and had a green tinge…) that would be it. I should note that I tried emailing someone cited in a news article as wanting more information on the sightings…. but that’s bounced back (probably got slammed with messages from all over inquiring?)

There are of course blog links all over too… here, here, and here for starters. I’m sure there are more… Many are playing the UFO angle up… (technically UFO – unidentified flying object – covers many things…) many want to spin the “little green men” angle…

I don’t know what it was, I suspect it was a meteor, BUT… I’m VERY curious to find an explanation for the seeming “swarm” of sightings. I have a hard time believing that news of one such light makes us more likely to see and report others… This was bright enough I would have noticed whether or not I had heard of other sightings.

The only meteorite that I’ve seen before was MUCH smaller and left a small red streak in the night sky, so I count myself lucky to have seen this if it was only for a fleeting second.

BTW… to sum up…. I live in Buncombe County of NC – the streak seemed to be heading from the zenith of the sky to the north-northwest very rapidly (not much more than a second.)

–Update 1-26-07–
I dug out the GPS to get a more precise idea of the heading of the “streak”… it was heading towards ~315 degrees on the compass dial – give or take a bit (so between 310-320) from my point of view.

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