|Occurred : 7/23/2002 22:05 (Entered as : 07/23/02 22:05)
Reported: 7/28/2002 8:29:56 PM 20:29
Location: West Hills, CA
|Uneven "V" formation of white and red lights, trailing ones flashing red, with trail extending over time of a minute or two.
About 30 degrees elevation, starting in north east, ending in south east, travelling slowly (about same speed as small prop plane). Observed from back yard (regular family venue on summer evenings). Almost full moon rising to the south east. Vehicle started as single white-ish ball of light; I thought it was a satelite (almost same speed as a normal 90-120 minute orbit satellite of which we see several a night). But mentioned to wife "can't be a satellite, too low" (would have been in umbra as eastern aspect). No other navigation lights seen (we see many small planes and I know their signature well).
Then, as we watched it travel southward over the San Fernando Valley, it started to develop a long "tail" of red flashing lights, which grew ever loger, such that by the time it stoped extending, there were about 4 or 5 high intensity flashing lights , like ultra-bright plane red navigation lights, extending at about 45 degrees backwards from the parent white-ish ball. By the time it disappeared from view (buildings), it was underneath the Moon's location. Overall shape by then was a chevron of lights, with one or two dimmer red lights above and back from the (now) two diffuse constant white-ish lead lights , then back wards for the 4 or 5 trailing lower red flashing lights. As the Moon subtends an angle of about 0.5 degrees diametrically, the extent of the object would have been about three Moon diamters, or about 2 degrees from upper tip, through the middle white, back through the extended red light trail. There was no sound whatsoever while this was hapening, whereas several minutes later, a small plane in the same region (by elevation angle and navigation light brightness) was easily heard by its engine sound.
About half way through the event, I called to my son, who was inside, to join my wife and I on the patio, and he brought his binoculars which he had nearby (just returned from a touring vacation). Binoculars are 8x23mm. I played them on the object(s), but could discern no solid connection betweenthe lights, nor any additional "navigation" lights, even though by then the object was close to the full Moon, and any wing structure would easily have been visible. (Confirmed later by observing a few small planes to demonstrate what should have been visible).
I am perplexed, with many years of aeronautical and astronomical observation behind me, this is the first time I cannot even start to explain what I saw. The only things that come to mind to mimic the phenomenon are: 1) A "V" formation of Canada geese with red flashing nav lights and flashlights on the head birds. (ridiculous of course, but would match the "no connecting structure" item) 2) A large silent low-flying air-refuelling tanker with its refuelling probe slowly extending as it flew, whose probe was illuminated with red flashing nav lights, and said tanker was making no engine noise, and having its wings directly in line with my line of sight all the time, and having no wing-tip nav lights. (very unlikely).
I have no real idea how big the thing was, but by its low elevation and light brightness, it could not have been more than (guess) 5 miles away, or the evening haze and bright Moonlight would have washed it out. Also, its silence indicates it was probably more than a mile away (?). This would make the overall "structure" very large, much larger than a long-winged plane, for example.
((FOLLOW-UP TO ORIGINAL REPORT))
This is a follow-up to my report sent in today 28 July 02: After I finished my report, of a triangular formation of lights, I went back to your web-site, then called my family to the screen. There, with a drawing from the observation in Iowa, was almost exactly what we had seen on the 23rd ! The hair on the back of my neck started crawling ! The only difference was that the reporter from Iowa said he saw a triangular dark shape conecting the lights. This was not the case for me, as I could not discern , even with binoculars, any connecting structure between the lights, but the shape, elevation above ground, and general features were identical !
Chevron/triangle formation of lights (central white, trailing red flashing) travelling north-south over San Fernando Valley; silent
This is an addendum report to the one filed over the weekend by this resident of West Hills, Ca. re: chevron/triangle formation of lights at 10 pm local on 23 July 2002.
Having filed my report, two things happened which casue me to add this addendum: 1) Today 29 July, you updated your files of reports from last week, and I have noticed that there were many other reports identical to my sighting, all at the samr time on the same day,all dscribing a large formation of lights travelling slowly north to south, with the first report from Tehachapi, and the last from Santa Monica. All these reports (including those between these two extremes) were indicating a straight north-south passage. This is significant (i.e.I'm not apparently crazy!) 2) On answering your questions and on reflection with other witnesses in my family, we DID see two fast military planes travelling the same path about 15 minutes behind (single-engine jet noise from high altitude, clear view of wings and nav light in bimoculars, my guess F-16's. I thought nothing of it till today, as in my mind I was using the mil jets as reference data to compare the other object with. In restospect, they may well have been scrambled to intercept.
One reporter (from Reseda) said he got video. I would very much like to see that record. From my relative size observaion (rel to Moon diam) and now knowing it flew right over Reseda, 5 miles east of me, I geomatrically calculate a MINIMUM (depending on flat plane tilt angle) dimension of center to one trailing edge of: 150 yards. I am dumbfounded.