|Occurred : 8/20/2004 22:15 (Entered as : 08/20/2004 22:15)
Reported: 10/3/2004 3:41:33 PM 15:41
Location: Adriatic Sea (near Hvar) (Croatia),
|Triangle of lights moving in a straight line across the Agean Sea almost west-to-east.
We were aboard the Royal Clipper sailing from Losinj to Hvar on Friday, 20 August 2004 at 22:15 CEST (GMT+1) 44d06m09s N 14d44m06s E, looking at the beautiful starfield afforded by the view just behind the bridge. Maritime regulations require the front of a ship to be dark, so the view of the sky was quite good. We're suburbanites, and we don't get a good view of the sky including the Milky Way all that often. The only real issue was the haze: it had been a hot, muggy day, and the haze limited viewing to about 45 degrees from zenith.
We were counting meteors (and a good count, too: stragglers from the Perseids?) when my eyes caught two lights almost directly overhead. The two lights were on the same line of flight but offset from one another. I'm not good at magnitudes, but the lights were not that much brighter than most of the stars in the sky. What was obvious was that they were white and steady (did not twinkle like stars or blink/flash like aircraft navigation lights) and they were definitely headed in the same direction and staying the same distance apart. The two lights were about as far apart as 2 quarters held at arms length. They moved across the span of my fist at arms length in about two seconds.
I figured this was a pair of fighters in formation except for the complete lack of jet noise. Then I saw the third light moving alongside the trailing light making an isosceles triangle about as long as it was wide moving in the direction of the narrow vertex. Again, the three objects maintained their spacing the whole of the time we watched.
The ship was on a heading of 148.2 degrees magnetic (based upon the magnetic compass under my right elbow), and the object appeared to be headed toward about 110 degrees on the horizon. We lost the object in the haze at about 45 degrees from zenith.
My darling wife saw the object as well. (Amazing I could get her attention given I had laryngitis and couldn't speak above a whisper.) She says that she saw the stars between the three lights blink out as they went by, but I'm not so sure about that. The eyes can play tricks, and I'm not certain that that "blink out" wasn't just the effect of ones eyes dealing with moving objects against a non-moving field.
Of course we were alone on the foredeck during our sighting. Several people joined us just as we lost the object in the haze. Darling wife dived into the bridge to get our location and heading.
My sense was that these three lights were very high up and resembled the Space Station or satellites I've seen in that they were moving in a steady straight line. My first notion was that this was the NOSS satellite constellation. However, that system would be in a polar orbit. These objects were moving almost west-to-east ending up on the horizon at about 110 magnetic. I've been searching my resources for another three-satellite system that goes west-to-east, but I'm not finding one. So here we are...
Info on the ship were were on: http://www.starclippers.com