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National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 3/1/2011 17:15 (Entered as : 03/01/11 17:15)
Reported: 3/2/2011 6:10:41 PM 18:10
Posted: 3/10/2011
Location: New York City (Manhattan), NY
Shape: Other
Duration:perhaps 5 minutes
formation of lights seen overhead

At 7:15 pm last night, I walked out of my office building at 55th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. I’m an amateur astronomer and I often look up at the sky, and I did so as I left my building. Almost directly overhead I saw perhaps 6 to 8 hazy and indistinct lights— that’s the only way I can describe them. The lights were in a roughly cruciform shape, but just roughly. The lights at the “ends” of the longer axis would brighten occasionally, then dim again, but in all instances the two end lights were brighter than the other lights of the shape. The color of the lights was a grayish white, never varying. The shape was, as I say, almost directly at my zenith, somewhat to the west of an imaginary line drawn between Castor and Pollux at the north end and Betelgeuse at the south.

I was confused, because I knew the sky was supposed to be clear lasnight (I’d just checked it on the New York Clear Sky Chart, http://cleardarksky.com//c/NYCNYkey.html, as I often do). And indeed I saw numerous stars in the sky, including just around the light formation, so the sky did seem to be clear.

I looked away, to see if anyone was near to verify what I was seeing, but (surprisingly) no one was. When I looked back, the lights were still there. When I looked away again perhaps 30 seconds later, then back, they had disappeared entirely.

A few minutes later I noticed two of the lights once more, for perhaps 30 seconds, then they again faded; they had seemed to move slightly to the west in the time since my initial observation.

The only thing I can think that could cause this display would be a set of narrow-beamed lights pointing straight up and reflecting off a cloud layer I could not see. However, if there were any clouds there, they did not cover any of the stars in my field of view.

I have to say, though, that it did not "feel" like lights reflecting off clouds, to my eyes. It looked more like bright lights shining through a cloud, but as stated there was no cloud layer visible. The only logical explanation is lights reflecting off clouds that I could not see, but I don’t think that’s what it was. Even so, I probably would not have submitted this sighting but for something odd that happened a few years ago and that this event reminded me of. At that time, perhaps five years ago, I was behind my apartment building and I had again looked up; as I recall it was late evening twilight. I saw, again overhead, four bright lights in a square or diamond formation. These were pinpoint sources, and looked like bright stars. As I watched, over the course of perhaps a minute, the lights faded, in unison, and disappeared.

I know this may make me sound odd, as if I have a habit of "seeing things." I do not. As an armchair astronomer, I take an active interest in the sky and tend to look at it often. Thus I’m not surprised that I should have seen these things, which probably have prosaic explanations, but which for the life of me I can’t figure out. I’m a rationalist, a skeptic, and I have to admit I can’t explain these events.