Friday, June 17, 2016


I'm not a big UFO researcher.

I've looked at the sky at night a lot and I've never seen one.

I don't particularly look for them either: looking for that type of thing is not a major focus of my research. I do spend a lot of time looking at the stars and the night sky; sometimes I use a telescope, sometimes I use binoculars, but most of the time I use the naked eye (with glasses).

However, this evening while parking the car at a few minutes before 9 pm local time, with both my sons in the car, one of them (who was in the passenger's side seat in the front) said, "There's a satellite."

He had been looking at the planet Saturn, which appeared as a bright star in the twilight -- one of only a few heavenly objects visible in the twilight. With summer solstice approaching, it stays light very late, and although it was getting dark, the easiest objects to see in the direction we were facing as I parked the car were still Mars, Antares and Saturn (a few other stars were visible but very faint).

My son had originally thought that the "star" he was looking at (Saturn) was moving, until he realized it was another bright object just below Saturn, which was bright like a large star but moving slowly downwards towards the horizon.

I saw it and said, "Maybe that's the ISS" because it was so bright. It did look like it was about the size of the bright satellite said to be the ISS on websites that tell you when to look for the ISS, which I have seen crossing the sky in the past, in very much the same part of the sky as this object, except when seeing the bright object identified as the ISS, I've always seen it moving at a steady pace from the south towards the north, and maintaining about the same track across the sky relative to the ground (the same angle of elevation above the eastern horizon, in other words). This object, which was as bright as the ISS and steady (with no blinking lights) was slowly moving towards the horizon.

In the diagram above, I show the direction that we were facing, at the latitude and longitude and approximate time and date. The screenshot is taken from, which is an excellent open-source planetarium app available online. I have used an "airbrush" tool to indicate the location of the bright light when we first saw it (at the top of the downward-pointing arrow, just beneath Saturn and drawn to look slightly larger than Saturn, because it was slightly brighter than Saturn in the sky).

We all saw the object and looked at it very carefully to see if it could possibly have any flashing lights such as an airplane or helicopter would display -- there were definitely none whatsoever: it was a solid light very much like a bright star or satellite (or ISS, if the bright satellite-object we are told is the ISS is in fact the ISS, which I personally don't have too much problem believing that it is, although I know others who harbor some doubts about that).

We watched it for approximately 25 to 30 seconds as it moved steadily downwards towards the horizon, as indicated by the purple arrow. Two of us got out of the car and one of my sons remained in the car, but we were all watching it and discussing it for a good amount of time. There is no way that it could have been a meteor (at least, it was completely unlike any of the meteors I have ever observed, none of which remain visible for 25 or 30 seconds, or even long enough to point out to anyone who is not already looking at them). It moved steadily and deliberately, but not at a constant speed. At one point, it passed some horizontal power lines which were visible above the horizon fairly close to our location, which is the only time it appeared to "blink" (as it passed behind each power line and was temporarily partly-obscured from our view by the power lines).

Not long after passing below the level of the power lines, but still well above the level of the horizon, it suddenly faded very rapidly as if growing smaller and disappearing in the distance, whereupon it turned a dull red color for a split second before fading completely from view. The son who had gotten out of the car also observed the momentary change to a dull red color, while the one who had stayed in the car did not.

The approximate location of the object or light when it disappeared is indicated at the bottom of the arrow that I have drawn in the diagram above, where I have also added a smaller, slightly reddish spot to indicate the object just before it faded suddenly from view.

The speed of descent was somewhat similar to a military parachute flare (which, when I was in the army, was a pyrotechnic device which we used quite often, and with which I am very familiar, along with other types of pyrotechnic devices known as "star clusters" -- I have no idea if these are still used regularly, although they probably are). However, it did not look at all like a parachute flare to me and I can pretty confidently rule that out as an explanation, based on its actual behavior, size, brightness, height above the horizon when first seen, and apparent distance from us. 

I have no desire to label it a "UFO," since that term popularly implies some sort of extraterrestrial craft, and that is certainly not what I would say might be the most likely explanation for whatever this shining object was. It did appear to be like a very bright satellite, about the size of the "ISS" in the sky, but moving in a path that was not at all like a satellite, especially the part at the end when it simply faded rapidly from view while changing to a dull red color momentarily. It could perhaps be labeled as a "UAP" or "unexplained aerial phenomenon," at least "unexplained" based on my own personal experience (the possibility that it was some sort of man-made vehicle or drone seems to me to be the most likely explanation for whatever it was).

Interestingly, at about the same time, someone else in Fontana, California posted a video of a very similar satellite-like light which very much resembled the one we were observing (as far as I can tell from the video), and they described it as being in a "south-easterly direction," which (as you can see in the diagram above) is the same direction that we were looking at the same time. Below is video that they posted shortly afterwards, and which I found by searching on twitter about twenty minutes later (and where it was posted with the message "this just happened"). The interesting part about this video is that the location is quite far to the south of the location that we were when we saw the very similar phenomenon -- so far to the south that it would be hard to believe we were looking at the same thing, even though the time appears to match almost exactly. Below the video is a map showing the relative locations -- if the video below was taken in Fontana, as it says it is (my location was almost exactly two hundred miles north of that, in Paso Robles).

What the significance of this is, I'm not really certain. It does raise questions as to what it might have been, but there are plenty of possible answers (most of them involving some sort of military craft or training, in my opinion). However, as I have never actually seen anything at all like this, in decades of watching the sky (as well as over a decade in the military), I post the record here, mainly to keep track of the details as we observed them.

It is also interesting that it was seen in the vicinity of the planet Saturn.