|Occurred : 7/4/2015 22:00 (Entered as : 07/04/2015 22:00)
Reported: 7/18/2015 8:18:36 AM 08:18
Location: Livonia, MI
|13 nearly identical reddish orange lights moving slowly in the night sky
I was sitting in a chair in front of our house about 22:00 – 22:30 EDT on July 4, 2015 watching the neighborhood fireworks. I was facing east as most of the fireworks were going off that way, but some were also being set off to the south, as well as to the north of my spot. At one point I noticed several reddish orange lights that were moving to the east-southeast.
They were directly south when I initially noticed them. At first I saw two that appeared to be a little higher, thus smaller. I would estimate them to have been 4000 to 4300 ft in altitude, but it didn't seem clear how accurate that might have been.
Lower than those and seemingly a little larger (apparent size) were two more with one above and leading the other, also moving to the east. These I estimated to be about 2500 – 3000 ft altitude. I thought of how helicopters would be flying while I was watching.
Within a minute of noticing them, the first two disappeared although I felt at first they just went out of range. Three more appeared to the southwest and moved similarly to, and at the same apparent altitude, as the second two. The higher of the second set had disappeared by this time, then shortly after that, the other one also disappeared. As the third group moved directly south of where I was, another two became visible to the southwest.
I returned my attention to the set of lights south of me and two of them disappeared as I watched. The third of that group continued on to my southeast, and it was possible that it changed direction toward the southeast at that time. The upper of the next set of two disappeared somewhere to my southeast but the other continued on as the single remaining one of the previous group had done.
Two more sets of two became visible in about the same timing and location, also moving to the east, and one of those four also remained to follow the others that stayed visible going toward the southeast.
To recap: several groups of similar to identical reddish orange lights moved from southwest to southeast relative to my position. Most disappeared but three total appeared to continue visibly to the southeast.
The movement seemed to be how helicopters would have been flying but there was no sound. They might have been 1.5 – 3 miles away. There were no strobe lights or red beacons I could see, but if traditional aircraft, the port red light would have been visible. However, the color was more orange than I would have thought.
The lack of standard aircraft lighting was strange as where they were is the approach to Detroit Metro airport ; we live directly under the westernmost approach and aircraft would be flying toward the southwest right into where these lights were. No aircraft made an approach during that time, however.
There seemed to be a shape to the lights, sort of an irregular trapezoid on its side, base to the rear, and the top segment at more of an angle than the bottom one. This, though, was an impression and not easily discernible.
After the first 4 groups had gone by I had the idea to try my smart phone video to capture images, but the quality is pretty poor. I offer it anyway, if desired.
I am a retired US Navy Aerographers Mate (meteorology and oceanography) with 20 years service. I have a private pilot's license but haven't flown since 1992. I am currently between jobs.