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

National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 1/6/2003 19:53 (Entered as : 01/06/03 19:53)
Reported: 1/9/2003 12:43:11 AM 00:43
Posted: 2/11/2003
Location: Bellingham, WA
Shape: Cigar
Duration:2min45sec+/-15 sec
High strangeness report - luminous UFO with possible satellite objects

I have prepared a detailed report complete with charts and computer-graphical sketches and posted it to my website. This report may be found at You have my permission to extract as much information as you think necessary, and use any of the graphics.

((NUFORC Note: We rarely leave URL's in reports, but we make an exception in this case. The case/sighting is exceptionally well presented on the website, so we invite readers to visit the site. With the author's/witness' permission, we post below the text of his report; illustrations are available at his website. PD))


Written Report of UFO Sighting

by Rod Brock

I was sitting out on my patio, smoking my pipe. The weather was clear and cold. The atmosphere was very stable and the starlight was very steady ( the "seeing" was "good"). I had gotten into that sort of meditative state that some pipe smokers may be able to relate to, puffing away on a Christmas present of "Sweet Killarney" tobacco from Ireland. I wasn't thinking anything in particular - just relaxing, periodically looking up at the stars.

I heard the faint rumble of a jet airliner above, which is common around here, as I live beneath the flight path of airliners on their way into the Vancouver, B.C. International Airport, about 50 miles distant. Absently mindedly, I looked up...

I saw the airliner, with its landing lights on, traveling the same course that airlines always travel over my house - towards the northwest. But -- and from this point on it is difficult to describe my feelings -- there was something else there, moving in an almost due-west direction. The immediate feeling was a sense of unreality, and a kind of boggled amazement, at what I saw.

My brain took a few seconds to process what I was seeing. It was a brilliant, vivid orange light on a westerly heading, moving at a tangent to the airliner's northwesterly heading. The object was several orders of brightness greater than Venus at her brightest (Venus =~-4.0), but it is difficult for me to assign a visual magnitude to this, as I have no basis for estimating point sources of brightness greater than Venus, since Venus is the singly most brilliant (apparent) point source in the night sky. "Brighter than -4.0" is the best I can do.

On first sighting, the apparent separation of the anomaly and the airliner was perhaps 5 degrees, with steadily increasing separation thereafter...however, I did not focus on the airliner...

I jumped up, and stood stock still staring at the object. It was like my brain was trying to make sense of it...because, in addition to the brilliant orange light, there was something above it, moving with it - attached, unattached...? I can't say. This "something" moving with the light had a startling appearance - cigar shaped, fully 1/2 degree in length, and it was rotating slowly in a clockwise direction, so that I was looking at its axis of rotation, around its center, like looking head on at a slowly rotating airplane propeller. This rotating object was sort of...ghostly in had a faint orange luminosity, yet parts of it seemed dark, and the orange luminosity seemed to shift around as it rotated. It was situated a couple of degrees above the bright orange light, but the two anomalies were moving perfectly in tandem, as if connected.

My mind, almost unbidden, started flashing through possibilities. The first thing that flashed through my mind was reentering space debris. But that was not it - I have seen the reentry of a spent Russian booster, which, while spectacular, was nothing like this...with the solitary bright light, and the rotating object above that, this was just too "mechanical" seeming. Not chaotic and fragmenting like a reentering piece of space junk. Furthermore, it was traveling on a due- west course (as opposed to the characteristic due-east path of man-made spacecraft ).

The second thought that raced through my mind was that it might be an aircraft, at altitude, which had experienced a catastrophic failure of some sort. For a moment, I thought this was what I was seeing: a fuselage in pieces, burning, tumbling down out of the night sky. The immediate gut level reaction was curious - a brief feeling of relief that it was finally identified, followed by the sick feeling that would accompany the viewing of an aircraft falling out of the sky on fire. Momentarily, however, both my impromptu hypotheses were banished because, about 3 degrees directly above Alpha Pegasi, the bright light abruptly stopped [30 seconds from first sighting], and when it stopped I could no longer see the rotating object, but the brilliant light remained, orange in color, and sharp (not diffuse, but rather, starlike). It remained stationary for [approximately 15 seconds], and then it began to backtrack along its original course, moving very slowly. The rotating object was no longer visible - only the light. However, as I continued to observe it in this ascending course, I saw that it was manifesting a left-to-right, right-to-left swaying motion, perhaps a degree or two in either direction, that called to mind the image of a LEAF FALLING UPWARDS. I began to feel very strange -- almost fearful -- as I realized that the left-to-right, right-to-left stops and starts were very precise and It reminded me of the way a hummingbird flies. At this point I realized I was trembling (not from the cold) and I heard my voice say "Jesus Christ..." [ falling leaf motion manifested for 15-20 seconds]

[~1 minute into sighting]

Suddenly the object began to move in a more conventional manner, slowly following an arcing course towards Cassiopeia. Briefly the object passed behind the top of a tall fir tree, where I could see it off and on through the branches. At this point, I suddenly decided to run (literally RAN) for my binoculars. It took about [20 seconds] to get them and get back outside.

[~1 minute 20 seconds into sighting]

When I returned, the object was still there, moving along towards Cassiopeia. I raised the binoculars (10 x 50mm) to my eyes and got the object into focus. Now, it appeared to be a solitary, cigar shaped object, I would estimate between .25 deg<[length]<.50 deg, and inclined so that the bright light, which was on the left end, was lower than the diffusely glowing right end. The object was still in motion, and as I watched it through binoculars, the right end swung further upwards, so that the "cigar" was now perpendicular with respect to the horizon. As in the case of the rotating object that had previously been visible, the diffuse light seemed to shift around on the object as it changed its orientation. At this point, the object was located about 10-12 degrees beneath Beta Casseiopeia, and still moving, slowly.[25 seconds of binocular observation].

[~1 minute 45 seconds into sighting]

Abruptly, I decided to call my girlfriend and tell her what I was seeing - I popped through the patio door into the kitchen, grabbed the handset, and hopped back out onto the patio. This only took a few seconds, and I did not dial immediately, but continued watching the object move (without binoculars, now, although they were hanging around my neck). The object had reached, roughly, the center of the constellation of Cepheus when suddenly, in a downwards direction, perpendicular to the horizon, it emitted, very rapidly, a solitary white starlike object of about 2nd magnitude that descended about 10 degrees and winked out. As it emitted this starlike object the bright "mother" appeared to fade slightly, and then it brightened once again to its former luminosity. A few seconds passed, and it suddenly emitted another starlike object, identical to the first, which also descended about 10 degrees and winked out. As it emitted this object, the light seemed to flicker (it reminded me of the way a fluorescent lamp flutters when you first turn it on)and then it simply disappeared from view. It was simply gone. [final phase of observation 30-45 seconds]

[~2 minutes 30 seconds, total observing time, ± 15 seconds]

I called my girlfriend, immediately got a time check from her, and yammered excitedly to her about it. She was very interested, but calm, and, knowing my involvement with ufology, told me I should write a report immediately (which I was going to do, anyway).

So, I carefully reconstructed what had happened, judging various elements of the account by recreating where I had been standing at various points throughout the observation, which stars the object had passed in front of, and testing that against where the object had been situated above/behind the sillhouettes of nearby trees. I timed how long it took me to run in the house and grab the binoculars from a drawer in my bedroom, and run back outside, discarding the lens-caps willy-nilly as I went. And so on. In this manner, I worked out the approximate lengths of different phases of the account, and then established a range for the duration of the account, to allow for errors in my estimation of how long the total time of the observation was (3 min.>[duration]>2 min.)

After doing this, I stepped outside for a moment, found my abandoned pipe, and relit it, looking up at the sky. A minute or two had passed, when at zenith I saw a "star" of second magnitude blink into existence for about 2 seconds, and blink back out. No movement was apparent. It occured to me this might have been an iridium flare, but I have no such certainty - I will need to look into that possibility. I found it strange enough after the earlier event to once again call my girlfriend and tell her about it.

I have created "snapshot" starmaps, showing the direction I was looking, my long./lat., and the appropriate date and time. For this purpose I utilized "Your Sky" online software. I also created computer graphical "sketches" utilizing Adobe Photostudio and MS Paint.