|Occurred : 8/27/2001 05:30 (Entered as : 8/27/01 05:30)
Reported: 8/27/2001 20:38
Location: Fairbanks, AK
|Extremely bright light circle with vapor release, accompanied by small less bright lights above Fairbanks, AK
I work with the US Post Office and always look at the sky before leaving home. Today (8/27/01) when I stepped out my door I first looked at the eastern horizon and noticed the planet Venus. Then I turned towards the North and noticed a very bright light high in the NW. Odd because I knew there were no planets in that direction, and no stars that bright (about 2-3 times the brightness of Venus). My first thought was should I go back in & get my binoculars, or just proceed towards work? I went back in and got them. They are Orion 9x63. With them I expected to see only a point of light, as that is all I could see with my eyes (an apparently very bright, motionless star). But I was suprised to see a disc. The object had a visible diameter which immediately told me this was not a star (nova or otherwise). I became immediately interested. The color was pure white and very bright. No details were visible within the bright image and for awhile no details surrounding it. I kept watching debating whether or not to call my brother (hoping to get a triangulation) and not wishing to take my eyes off it when there was a sudden change. I noticed the emergence of a "puff of gray smoke" off towards the northerly direction. Inside this thin vaporus and expanding cloud were a number (6-12) of swimming points of light moving somewhat erratically in the same direction (generally northerly). I then moved closer to the house and supported my arms on a step ladder to steady my view and the same event happened again, thoug the "puff" moved generally south and again about the same number of points of light moved off in that direction. They did not seem to move off with any great rapidity. The small points of light seemed to have variable brightness to them (some were brighter than others). They did not seem to move with any purpose, but somehwat sluggishly and randomly and even seemed to slow somewhat the further they got from the bright disc, which never changed position or brightness the entire time. Now I! really wanted to call my brother and get a triangulation, but just as I was about to do so the entire event ended with the abrupt fading of the entire scene. Not fading, cutoff. It just disappeared. The morning was calm, and partly cloudy. The event was seen thru thin clouds perhaps at 10,000'. The object was above these clouds the entire time and did not move while the clouds slowly moved in a generally ESE to WSW direction. Knowing the two locations I stood at to view this event I later used a compass and plumb bob to find the horizon coordinates, which I estimate to be the following: Elevation: 72 deg Azimuth: 300 deg (NW) During Civil Twilight I have observed balloon flights from my house quite often. This was not a balloon, at least not a hot air balloon. Hot air balloon are easily identified and are usually accompanied by noise when the fuel is burned for lift. Even at high altitued one can detect the flare event from from the burn. If it was a weather balloon (or some reasearch balloon from the University of Alaska) then I would also expect it to have changed position somewhat during the 10 minutes I observed it. I noticed absoultely no change in position. There was also absolutely no noise during the entire event. If it was a balloon venting at high altitude (accidental surface rupture, or deliberate puncture) then I do not understand why the bright central disc did not seem to change position or brightness during the "release event". I also do not understand why the entire event just shut off so suddenly. Thought you might find this interesting.