|Occurred : 9/24/2007 12:30 (Entered as : 09/24/07 12:30)
Reported: 9/25/2007 7:43:17 AM 07:43
Location: Fort Washington, PA
|Four + hours of observation, four individual observations of short duration
I am rather hesitant to post this due to the improbable chance of this occurring within the short time period. However, I have.
Earlier in the Summer or late Spring, after many years of neglect, I rekindled my interest in listening to military aircraft communications. Technology has brought many changes, however there is still opportunity.
As I began to search for the aircraft I was listening to, I started watching the daytime skies with more frequency.
Early on, quite by accident, I discovered that planets were visible during the daytime. I found this quite interesting. I have, in the past, spent much time watching the nighttime sky.
I have never before seen anything terribly unusual.
As the summer progressed, I spent 30-40 daytime hours with my binoculars watching aircraft. I discovered eight or so high-level flight-paths visible from my vantage point. Additionally, dependent upon wind conditions, there are approach and departure paths viewable . Three airports are involved for these paths.
During peak travel periods, it is not unusual to see 6-8 planes traveling at 'altitude' at any given time.
On this particular day, I walked to get the mail at curbside and decided to grab my binoculars from my car and spend a few minutes looking at aircraft. Normally when I watch, I take a folding wooden chair out to sit in.
My observation is limited somewhat due to trees, however the nearest provides a nice shade from the sun to my South.
In addition to aircraft, there are many birds-of-prey which are fascinating to watch.
So, after a summer of daytime sky watching, the discovery of planets viewable and nothing else much interesting, this is what I saw.
24 September 2007 Nikon 10x25, 5º binoculars No clouds were observed in the sky during the five hour period of observation. There was a light haze in the sky.
Observation #1 12:30 While viewing what appeared to be a pair of dragon flies with my binoculars, I noticed an object in the background that was somewhat reflective although out of focus. I was looking directly overhead and without lowering the binoculars I immediately refocused onto the object.
The object appeared spherical, although due to the altitude, this is uncertain. The reflection on the object from the sun was not intense or bright. The reflection was more 'dull', almost a non-reflection. Color was grayish.
Initially, I thought that the object was stationary, however I realized that I was craning my neck further back to keep the object within view.
The object initially traveled in an East to West direction. It traveled about four inches (arms length) toward the west. The object then made a 90º turn toward the North and I viewed it for an additional 1.5" of travel. I moved slightly, less than one second, as the object passed behind the AC power service lines into my home. I was unable to locate the object after this.
Total viewing time was six-eight seconds.
I am quite certain that I would not have been able to see this object without the use of my binoculars.
I have no idea what this could have been.
Observation #2 12:40 Having seen the previous object 10 minutes earlier, I was focusing my attention in the same general area of the sky. That being directly overhead.
Without the use of binoculars, I noticed a brief flash or reflection of light. Once again, directly overhead.
I immediately brought my binoculars up and into focus and was able to follow the object as it traveled.
It's path was in a North direction. It traveled about 20" (arms length). The object was a definite cylindrical, rectangular or oblong shape. It was light in color and after the initial bright reflection overhead, it did not appear to be highly reflective.
As the object traveled, it appeared to be tumbling and or rotating, not quite end-over-end. I was able to see dark areas on the rather light colored object as it 'tumbled' indicating to me that these were shadows produced by the movement.
I was able to view the object's entire path which lasted six-eight seconds at which point it simply faded from view.
The diameter or width of the object appeared to be about 1/7th it's length. The length was approximately 1/3 the size of a full sized aircraft flying at a 35,000 - 38,000 foot flight level at a 45º elevation.
These estimates are highly questionable due to the altitude and short duration of observation.
My best guess as to what the object could have been, is that it could be one of many rockets or boosters that are in a decaying orbit overhead. I am not certain if it is possible to actually see shape in these objects as they travel through the daytime sky ? An online attempt was made to determine if there were any of these rockets / boosters in orbit at the time in question, however there are so many objects that it appeared to be a futile attempt.
Observation #3 13:35 Again, directly overhead, an unaided observation of a flash or reflection was seen. I immediately, brought my binoculars up and into focus.
The object was traveling in a South - North direction.
It seemed to have form of a typical plane or a 'plus'(+)shape. It seemed to have form on the ends of the + shape. It was far too high to be able to maintain a steady view through the binoculars. The object was not highly-reflective as it traveled. It did not spin or rotate.
I was able to watch the object from it's position overhead for approximately 10 seconds. During this period, the object traveled about 30 inches (arms length) until it traveled behind a tree about 200 feet from my position. I lost sight at an elevation of about 35-45ºs.
In comparison, a high flight-level plane at an elevation of about 60 degrees to my North, travels about eight inches (arms length) in a period of 35 - 40 seconds. At this distance and altitude, the shape of the plane is quite discernible and not in question! This object was high and traveling VERY fast.
After contemplating this object for some time, it suddenly occurred to me that it was probably the ISS. A quick check determined that the ISS was traveling at this time over Southern South America.
I have no solid idea what this object was. Again, I'm not certain of the ability to see form in objects that are in low earth orbit during the daytime.
Observation #4 16:00 I noticed a bright point of light in the South Eastern sky at about a 45 degree elevation. Raising my binoculars, the object appeared to resemble a planet as viewed during the daytime with binoculars. There was some form to the object and it resembled a large balloon. It appeared that there was some sort of appendage on the lower side / bottom of the object. Due to my movement however, this is uncertain.
There was a gradual movement that seemed to be toward the NNE. Travel was about three inches (at arms length) in a period of about four-six minutes. After this movement, the object began a gradual movement in a ESE direction. Object was in view for approximately an additional 15-20 minutes until it reduced to a very fine point of light and I was unable to relocate the object after taking a 'movement break' for a few seconds.
At this point, depending upon actual altitude,the object would most likely have been over Western Central NJ.
Although interesting, I assumed that due to the duration, altitude and travel of the object, that it was most likely a weather balloon. I had never seen one.
National Weather Service(NWS)indicates that weather balloon flights are able to last in excess of two hours and travel about 125 miles. Altitudes attained can reach 115,000 feet. Balloon releases are normally scheduled at 00:00 and 12:00 UTC with exceptions for additional releases for specific storm concerns. The diameter of the balloon at it's bursting point can be as wide as 20 feet.
As a footnote to these events, at 17:15, I saw a bright lime-green balloon with a curly tail rise above the treetop about 200 feet from my location. It began it's northward travel and I watched with and without binoculars for about 12 minutes until it became non-viewable.
This added some perspective to the preceding events of the day.
Again, after spending the amount of time I have this past summer watching planes, I find it improbable to have witnessed these four objects in a single day. It did none the less, happen.