NUFORC Home Page
Web Report Indexes : by Event Date | by Location | by Shape | by Posting Date

National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 4/8/1999 00:00 (Entered as : 04/08/99 01/10)
Reported: 4/10/1999 20:21
Posted: 3/11/2003
Location: Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA
Shape: Fireball
Duration:7-10 minutes
A ball of orange light, 5X apparent size of a star. Drifted SW towards E. No flashing lights. Soundless except for once when it seemed to drop shower of sparks or more lights - popping sound, as if fire-crackers. 2nd time it did this (no sound noticed) I had binocs on it - looked like it dropped 3 smaller lights, which vanished. At end, object seemed to go directly South, then faded & winked out. A plane in same general area later made obvious sound.

About 1:10 am, April 8, 1999. Night exceptionally clear (and cold by Southern California standards) I was about to go to bed, but I happened to glance out kitchen window, which looks West. Saw a spot of orange light to SW at about 40 degrees above horizon. I went out on front deck, it was still there, but had moved even in that short time, heading East across South arc of sky. As it was cold, I went in house, grabbed my bathrobe and a pair of binoculars. The object appeared to be about 5 times apparent size of a large star, larger than a light of a plane would be. Color was orange - like the color of those supposedly fog-cutting street-lights (if you know what I mean). There were no flashing lights, just a steady glow. Twice it appeared to drop a series of lights from bottom. The first time, with naked eye, it looked like a shower of sparks. I thought I heard popping sounds, like distant fire-crackers. This was odd, because otherwise, the whole display was absolutly soundless. The second time I had my binoculars on it - it seemed to drop 3 seperate small balls of light, same color as main object. These small lights disappeared or winked out. I don't remember popping sounds the second time. The object had by this time traversed the sky from SW to a point directly south of me. The movement was not direct and purposfull like a plane, rather, it was more like drifting. At the end, it seemed like it was heading directly South. It faded a few times and then disappeared or winked-out. The only other detail I can think of to mention here is that I seemed to see several spikes projecting from the bottom of the object - this may be an artifact of scratches on my glasses or the general effect of looking at lights in the sky. The whole episode lasted 7-10 minutes. A few minutes later, a plane flew by in the same general area - compared to object, the plane was swifter, smaller, had flashing lights, and made obvious sound. What might it have been? The only conventional explanations I can think of are: 1-- a hot-air b! alloon (these are common in our area as a tourist attraction, thought not at night - I'm sure there's a law against that for safty reasons); it was silent, the large orange ball effect could have been the fire reflecting off and through the balloon itself, the dropping lights might have been sparks or falling, burning debris. There was no news report today of such an incident - and our local news loves balloon disasters. 2-- a flare drifting on a balloon or parachute, although a flare probably would not appear so large, and why would it be up there in the first place? I was the only observer - only my cat can verify that I was outside with binoculars late at night. Cardiff By The Sea is almost exactly 25 miles North of down-town San Diego and 20 miles or so South of Camp Pendelton, a large Marine Base. We can often hear shelling, and sometimes sonic booms from Camp Pendelton or other nearby Millitary installations. My house is about a mile or two from the coast. I am a single, University-educated male, age 36.