|Occurred : 8/16/2014 21:00 (Entered as : 08/16/2014 21:00)
Reported: 8/18/2014 6:48:39 PM 18:48
Location: Phoenixville, PA
|On 08/16/14, three witnesses observed large orange fireball traveling South to North-Northeast over Phoenixville, PA.
On Saturday August 16, 2014, at approximately 9:00PM (EST), I was returning home to Northridge Village (Townhouse Community) in Phoenixville, PA, with my girlfriend when we observed my neighbor walking two dogs and standing in the middle of the street/lane that led to my driveway. She appeared to be shocked by something and had forgotten about the dogs until I slowed almost to a stop; she then reined the dogs in to give my car room to pass by. I drove into my garage and then my neighbor called me over to show me something in the sky. I saw what appeared to be a large, very bright orange fireball object moving in a straight line away from our position heading North-Northeast. My girlfriend then came out to meet us and observed the object as well.
My neighbor stated the object had come from the South directly towards her at a very low altitude. She stated that right when I was turning in to pass her, the object changed direction just as it was above my neighbor’s house which is directly behind mine. She repeatedly commented on how low the object was flying towards her (I later asked her if it was as high as a commercial plane flying at approximately 5,000 feet that was very distinguishable and she said the object had been much lower). I asked her if she could make any features out on the object before it changed direction and she stated that it was circular.
We watched the fireball object continue on its flight path for approximately 20-30 seconds until it appeared to gain significant altitude and eventually appear like other stars in the sky before finally winking out of view. I estimate the object’s distance to us at the closest point of approach to have been approximately 3-5 miles away. There were a few commercial aircraft visible during the flight of the fireball object and immediately after it disappeared. Regardless of altitude, all of the commercial aircraft displayed lights and a few of them could be heard. The orange fireball object displayed no lights and made no sound despite the high velocity at which it appeared to be traveling across the sky (I would estimate at least 4-5 times the speed that you would observe a commercial airline pass overhead). It also did not have any type of visible tail or vapor trail despite its high rate of speed.
Approximately a minute after the orange object disappeared, my girlfriend was discussing the object with my neighbor when I observed a blue and white light approximately 600-700 yards away, above the wooded area adjacent to our community. It was bright (it reminded me of a firework) and falling towards the ground. It was visible for about 2-3 seconds before it disappeared. We discussed the fireball object and what it possibly could have been with my neighbor for a few minutes and then went home.
At approximately 10:00PM (EST), I stepped out onto my deck to watch the sky to see if I would see anything else. After about five minutes, I saw another bright object traveling from the south toward my position (it was nowhere near as close as the first object so I could not discern any additional characteristics). I could immediately tell it was not a typical commercial aircraft so I called out to my girlfriend to come look and we both grabbed our iPhones in case it approached close enough to try to record it. The object appeared to be approximately 12-15 miles away and had not yet reached Phoenixville. As my girlfriend was trying to ready her iPhone to record video, her flash came on for a few seconds. At the same time the object changed its flight path approximately 110 degrees to its starboard and flew due east. It remained visible for only a few more seconds before disappearing.
We then turned and looked back towards the direction the original object had traveled in and observed what was possibly a third object on the horizon above the wooded area adjacent to our community. It was too far away and only visible for about 5 seconds, making it impossible to determine what it might have been.
I then went inside to conduct some research and confirmed that the Perseids meteor shower had been most active between August 9th-14th; however, these meteors were supposed to appear to come from the constellation Perseus which was North of my house at the time of incident and not from the South like we observed. Additionally, most Perseids are estimated to disappear in the Earth’s atmosphere at heights above 50 miles. The object we observed with my neighbor was significantly lower. The object also did not leave a tail as one might expect if it were a meteor. I also have never heard of a meteor that suddenly changed directions, let alone one that gained altitude until it disappeared.
I next came across a similar incident that had occurred in the vicinity of Maisfield Road in Phoenixville, PA. The recollections of that person’s observations were eerily similar to what we saw. That incident occurred on December 23, 2013. I did not find anything to indicate there was any type of meteor shower or other phenomena during that time frame. If anyone is interested in my account, I would strongly advise you to read about this incident as well as it appears to possibly be the same type of object.
We also discussed the possibility of the object being some type of rocket, but again there was no visible tail and no sound despite the high rate of speed. Additionally, my girlfriend and I had observed the NASA Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) probe launch from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia from our house on September 6, 2013 and it was a totally different experience than the fireball object we observed. The NASA rocket launch had a clearly defined tail and was without a doubt much, much farther away. I do not know of any rockets that would fly so low, yet leave no vapor trails and make no sound.
A third theory was discussed of the object possibly being a Chinese lantern or some other balloon type object. My opinion is the object was too large and bright to be either and that the sheer speed that it moved at (4-5 times faster than the visible planes in the sky) would preclude it from being such an object.
Lastly we discussed the possibility of the object being some type of drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), possibly out of Willow Grove Naval Air Station (NAS). I have never seen a drone in flight, but I do not believe it would be bright orange at night to attract unwanted attention, nor that it would not make any noise if breaking the sound barrier. According to local media reporting, Willow Grove NAS does not physically launch/recover any drones; the base is used only as a remote controlled command location. The object we observed at close range was circular and did not resemble any known types of UAVs.
I have 13 years of military/law enforcement experience and have worked in environments where I have observed numerous types of military aircraft in operation. I have also spent many nights out on the open ocean thousands of miles from any land observing the night sky and constellations. I have never seen anything like the bright orange fireball that I saw on the 16th and I cannot at this point even venture a guess as to what it might have been.