Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Phantom snow boarder

Mystery sky objectMost people won't see this. In fact, it may only be me that can! The picture (right) shows a mystery object in the sky that I photographed recently. As is so often the case with anomalous photos, I noticed nothing unusual at the time of exposure. But when I looked at the photo later, I was astonished.

What I saw was a wispy figure standing on a flat board - a snow boarder in mid-air! However, the picture was taken in a city and the object was several tens of metres in the air!

You're probably looking at the photo and thinking, how is that a mystery? I believe this is how it happened. I noticed the odd object in the photo and zoomed in to see what it was. In doing so I think I zoomed in just enough for me to misperceive the object as a 'flying snow boarder'. I am, as regular readers will be aware, prone to noticing misperceptions so someone else, seeing the exact same scene, would probably have see nothing odd at all. But that is the nature of anomalous photos - some people see a ghost or UFO, others don't.

So what natural explanations did I consider? I thought it might be a part of a distant crane suspended by wires that were too thin to show up in this view. In a similar vein, I wondered if the object could be something at the top of a thin white pole. There were some cranes nearby but other photos I took from different angles showed none in that position, nor any pole or the mystery object itself. I also considered the idea of a cloud but the sky was overcast and the object was clearly well below the cloud base.

Mystery sky objectIt was only by zooming out a bit that I finally realised what I was really looking at! So here (right) is a version zoomed out. Now it looks like a bird - a gull to be precise. There were plenty about at the location so it makes perfect sense. The 'wispy figure' is the gull's wings and the 'board' its body.

Usually when you zoom in to an object in a photo it becomes clearer what it is. However, when the object is near the limit of resolution for the photo it may become pixelated and actually look different, as in this case. Just for a while, though, I really thought I'd caught something very strange in the sky - a phantom snow boarder perhaps!

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