|Occurred : 7/18/2008 21:45 (Entered as : 07/18/2008 21:45)
Reported: 7/18/2008 7:37:20 PM 19:37
Location: Gainesville, VA
|High, bright small light heading W/NW
While out on our backyard deck enjoying the evening and looking for fireflies, my wife spotted a very high, very bright light almost overhead, approaching from the West-to-SouthWest direction and approximately 10:00 high in the direction, which is blocked by trees any lower than that. As we watched it travel almost directly overhead toward the East-to-NorthEast direction, we both noticed very clearly that there were no navigation or strobe lights on it as are always on aircraft.
Sky conditions: It is a very clear night tonight but with considerable light pollution in our area so very few stars are visible. The moon is only about 10-15 degrees above the horizon in the South-Southeast, and above and to the right of that is a bright star which may be Saturn (we're not astronomers, but a neighbor had been talking about viewing it with his telescope and it seems to be about in the right direction and time).
We would estimate the brightness of the light to be approximately 2-3 times greater than that of Saturn (or whatever that brightest star is in the S-SE) with a great deal of "clarity" and precision to the light, a very bright, pinpoint-like light.
While it very well could be a satellite or the ISS or something else, we felt it worth mentioning here because of two primary reasons: 1) Complete lack of normal NAV lights or beacons per a standard aircraft configuration. Only a very bright light, and we noted as it traveled away from us that they also couldn't be landing lights, since it was as bright going away from us as it was overhead.
2) Apparent speed: Altitude is almost impossible to guess at here since there was nothing to give away the size...again, it could have been at a normal-high altitude (10K ft. or higher) or in low orbit like a satellite or the ISS. The only clue to altitude was any sound, and there was none, which gave the impression of a very high altitude (20-30K minimum). With that altitude, the speed just simply didn't seem right; it was traveling at least twice, if not three times, as fast as any comparable commercial jet that we normally see at that altitude.
Since these two things made it very unusual, we watched it travel the complete distance almost to the low horizon in the distance before it was out of sight. That took only about 2 to 3 minutes maximum - again, much quicker than the usual commercial or military jet. It did not change course at any time, altitude did not seem to vary either.
We're mentioning it here primarily for the interest of correlating it with any other sightings tat may coincide, or to see if possibly the ISS or a satellite is the reason.
Background: Wife and I don't drink, don't do any recreational drugs, not "UFO-holics", married 18 wonderful years, in our late-40's / early 50's, wear corrective lenses (glasses for her, contact lenses for me), no regular medications and in good physical and mental health (knock on wood), she is a lab technician and I am an engineer with a lifelong interest in aviation and a few hours towards my private pilot's license, essentially a wanna-be pilot and "airplane geek", so have a very fair degree of experience in observing and identifying a very large number of aircraft at different altitudes, positions, and sky/weather conditions.