Wednesday, 2 January 2013

There's no way that UFO is a sky lantern!

New Year UFOThere are many New Year traditions. One of mine is to look for UFOs just after midnight on New Year's Day (see here). For the last few years they were always there, guaranteed! They are usually glowing orange, sometimes yellow or white, and float silently through the dark sky. They often appear in small groups as well as individually. Anyone wanting to see these UFOs should try looking at the same time and date in the UK. I don't know how common they are across the country but it is well worth looking, just in case.

No doubt you're thinking these are sky (or Chinese) lanterns but here's a photo I took of one yesterday. Though it resembles a sky lantern in colour the shape is wrong. Sky lanterns are narrower than the noticeably wide object photographed here. So what is it?

Well, actually it IS a sky lantern. I have lots of other photos I took at the same time which look much more like a typical lantern. The reason that this one looks a bit odd is that it had a longish exposure (1/40s). The elongated shape of the lantern is produced by camera shake. Such camera shake would be more obvious if there was anything else in the photo apart from dark sky. You'd then see everything else elongated in the same way!

This is one of the things to look out for in UFO photographs. They often consist of large areas of featureless sky which can easily hide things like focus or long exposure problems affecting the photo. A featureless sky can also make it difficult to judge the size and distance of an object. I've seen photos of birds, and even insects, masquerading as 'huge' UFOs!

I also saw another UFO yesterday which was much more mysterious! It consisted of a bright white light, barely moving, silent against a twilight sky. I only managed to identify it when I got some binoculars on it. It was an ordinary plane! What made it look odd was that it was heading directly towards me so that all I could see was it's bright forward light. It's direction of travel also explained why it didn't seem to move much across the sky. I like to think I'm familiar with planes but sometimes they can still surprise! What would have happened if I hadn't had a pair of binoculars handy?

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