|Occurred : 3/18/2001 15:00 (Entered as : 03/18/01 15:00)
Reported: 3/18/2001 21:02
Location: Kelseyville, CA
|White disc moves perpendicular to wind in clear sky, then suddenly disappears.
I was in the back yard on a clear day today, except for a few normal contrails and cirrus clouds. I noticed that a swarm of insects was flying over my home, following the wind direction. I was annoyed by this, and scanned the sky to see if I could find out where they were coming from. A few seconds later, I noticed a white circular object in the sky, almost directly overhead. It was about half the size of a sunflower seed at arms' length. It appeared to be self-luminous, since I could see no shading or shadows on its uniform white contour. I quickly resolved that this was a rubber party balloon, and decided to watch it out of sheer amusement. Assuming that the circle was a balloon a few thousand feet up (which we can get from simple ratios, considering the size of a typical party balloon versus its projected size at arm's length), then the object's speed in radians/second, and therefore its implied speed, are within the normal range of wind speed, roughly 2-30mph. But the analysis is not complete. First of all, 15-20 seconds into this boring event, the circle simply disappeared. I don't mean that it stopped radiating and turned black, the way an airplane does as its reflective surfaces rotate with respect to the sun. Rather, it disappeared, revealing the blue sky behind it. I flipped my sunglasses on and off, scanning the sky around it, but found nothing. There was at least a baseball-at-arms-length of steradial blue sky around the place where it had disappeared, so it could not have simply wandered behind a cloud. I did not see any change in the object which might have presaged its disappearance; it simply ceased to exist. I must admit, I have a Bachelor's in Physics, but my blood ran cold. But perhaps the "balloon" could have popped as a result of the cumulative thermal stresses of the high atmosphere on its rubber skin. Originally, I had determined that this was the explanation, until just this evening, the following hit me, and my blood ran cold again: I could tell from the way that the insects were sweeping over the roof that the wind was in a certain direction on the ground, about 5mph. I could tell from the direction in which the cirrus clouds _and_ the contrails swept overhead that the wind direction was similar up high. But the "balloon" had travelled in an apparently arrow-straight line roughly perpendicular to the wind direction. So I would have to believe that the wind suddenly rotated 90 degrees, then 90 degrees again, between the ground and the cirrus clouds, which seems unlikely. I would note that this second fact also eliminates another possibility, which was that the circle was some form of exotic ball lightning emmanating from the local dormant volcano, Mount Konocti. I have heard that such balls of light sometimes bubble out of the ground due to tectonic stress in the weeks prior to an earthquake or eruption. Again, though, I would expect ball lightning to follow the prevailing wind pattern. I am left with these possibilities: (1) The circle was high above the winds, i.e. in the mesosphere or higher. It was simply a round satellite which for some reason popped of existence in an instant, without any signs of an explosion. (2) The circle was not of this world, and either popped into hyperspace, or accelerated out of view so quickly that I thought it had simply ceased to exist. I do not think that this observation is meaningful or substantial unto itself. I post it here just in case you get similar stories regrading this locale or time period. I am reminded of similar white circles/balls which were observed in groups of 10-20 in the vicinity of Mount Popocatapetl(sp?) in Mexico. I do not recall how such balls eventually disappeared from sight.