|Occurred : 5/6/2001 21:09 (Entered as : 05/06/01 21:09)
Reported: 5/7/2001 01:34
Location: Oakland, CA
|Dim, fast-moving, rapidly-changing formation startles Bay Area satellite observer.
At 9:09 p.m. PDT May 6, 2001 during late twilight, I was standing on the roof of my apartment building concentrating on an area of the sky just south of the constellation Leo awaiting the appearance of a satellite (Cosmos 1943 Rocket, U.S. Spacecom number 19120), which was scheduled to (and did) appear in this area at 9:11 p.m. (Observation of low Earth orbit satellites is an occasional pasttime of mine; I use a satellite tracking program to predict visible satellite passes.) About 5-degrees south of the star Regulus (or at about 207-degrees true, 55-degrees elevation), my attention was diverted by a dim formation of what I think was five points of white (or starlight-like) light moving east to west. I estimate the brightness of each light to be about magnitude 3.0, only slightly brighter than the dimmest stars visible in our local sky at the time. Apparent size of the formation was approximately 1/2-degree, or the size of the full moon. The shape of the formation was initially diamond-shaped but did not remain constant -- the distances between the lights changed rapidly and the overall shape changed to more of a square or trapezoidal shape. There seemed to be a fifth light which may have been ziz-zagging behind the other four. As I stepped out from behind the wall I was using to block nearby streetlights, the lights quickly pulled into line with each other, and distictly resembled a V-formation as viewed from behind and slightly below (i.e. a nearly-horizontal "V"). The formation faded in the southwest sky (about 240-degrees true) at an elevation of about 30 degrees, appearing to recede into the distance. The formation covered about 30 degrees of the sky in about ten seconds and traversed an arc, the formation's bearing smoothly shifing from west to southwest. (I consulted sky maps after the fact for azimuth/elevation estimates.) The dimness of the objects, combined with their speed and my own perplexity while observing them, make exact recollection of their maneuvers imprecise. During the observation! , I was preoccupied with comprehending what I was seeing. My first thought was high-altitude aircraft or missiles, but the lights' maneuverability ruled that out. About midway through the observation, I thought that the lights took on a slightly ruddy color, and I considered the fact that I was seeing a formation of birds reflecting the orange sodium vapor streetights of the city. I tried to make out flapping wings or some type of form but could not -- to move that quickly across the sky and relative to one another, birds would have to be fairly low and, given the brightness of the sky (residual twilight, urban light pollution and full moon), I should have been able to make out silhouettes. I am a radio broadcast engineer by trade with a lifelong interest in science and astronomy. I have seen many things in the sky (yes, I've even seen the insect-eating UFOs in Excalibur's spotlight in Vegas), but nothing I could not identify. I don't know what I saw tonight, but that may be due to the short observation time and faintness of the objects. I am submitting this report in the event that it corroborates other reports.
((NUFORC Note: I believe we spoke briefly with this witness. We found him to be highly credible, as his written report seems to suggest, as well. PD))