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Sighting Reports 2008

Amateur Astronomer Discovers Unknown Object in Southwest Sky

Illustration of Object by Witness.
Computer graphic Rendering. 
The outermost circle represents the enlarged sky through the telescope
and the approximate enlarged size of the object in comparison to the stars in the sky
through a 9mm lens.  It's not easy to find things through a 9mm Celestron lens. 
It's kind of like trying to look at a particular star through a soda straw compared to
looking at it through a Pringles container.

Date of Sighting: Sighting Began at 11:15 PM on August 2 & Ended at 12:30 AM PDT on August 3
Time Sighting: (See Above)
Date Sighting Reported: August 3, 2008
Duration of Sighting: One Hour & 15 Minutes
Location of Sighting: Encinitas, California (About 20 MI N. of Downtown San Diego Along Coast)
Latitude: 33.05 Degrees North
Longitude: 117.26 Degrees West
Number of Witnesses: Several (Exact Number Unknown)
Number of Witnesses Interviewed: One
Weather: Scattered Clouds Were Observed at 1,300 Feet. Visibility Was 10 Miles. Winds Were From the West-Northwest at 4 MPH.

Description: I think I may have actually found one! 

I was stargazing with my neighbors Saturday night, 3 August  2008. from approximately 11:15 PM until approximately 12:30 AM from a hillside viewpoint in Encinitas, California looking SouthWest across the Pacific.

I set up an 8" Celestron Nextstar telescope with a 35 millimeter Parker Lens attached to a Barlow extender and had been looking at improved images of Jupiter with my neighbor friends when Bob mentioned he would sure like to know what this flashing light they had been observing over the last several days was. 

I could see the flashing light in the sky with my naked eye  "relatively" about 12" to 15" to the right  of Jupiter and at about the 4 o'clock position (with respect to Jupiter as the center point on a clock).  I could see that the light was dimmer than a star,  but about the same size as the medium ones up there and appeared to change color from red to white to green to blue violet in about steady intervals  of about 2 second between flashes.   Initially, I expected the thing to be a satellite. Through the telescope, the image was much more distinct and and there appeared to be 6 colors that moved counterclockwise along the outside edge of a Hexagon shaped object with two distinct concentric layers.   I switched back and forth between a  9 millimeter and a 35 millimeter lens in the viewfinder.  As the colors traced along the outer edges, I could see a distinctly lit line in pastel yellow indicating that there was probably a constant central light and that the other lights were moving (or tracing) around.   I was confused by the counter clockwise rotation of the colored lights.  The inner lights seemed independent of the outer layer and would sometimes trace ahead of the outer edge lights.  That indicated to me that I wasn't seeing a refraction of lights reflecting in.  Also, it was always my understanding that satellites were stationary objects that were aligned to a point on the earth and rotated with that point much like the head of a pin would if you stuck it in a tennis ball and rotated the ball in your hand.  This object drifted out of view much like a planet  would.   I concluded it wasn't a satellite.  Also there was an oddly op ague dark triangular surface which blocked out any stars behind it.  That indicated to me the triangle was a solid surface.  At the 3 points on the triangle was a single white circular shaped light light which did not move, but glowed white continuously and constantly.  There was a slight blue glow around the triangle which made it more distinguishable as a solid surface.

We watched this object drift from it's original position until it was low on the horizon relatively 36" at 4 o'clock to  Jupiter about 30 minutes after we first observed it.  Airplanes have red and green lights indicating port and starboard. This was no airplane, no satellite or no natural phenomenon. It was not no illusion.  It was real and has been around for the last few days.

I want to see if I can get a computer video camera to hook up to the telescope and get some screen captures.  It's not really frightening, but boy is it curious!

Comments: The witness has provided some sound deductive reasoning in what the observed lights probably were not. However, an explanation might be possible if more data were available. The fact that the lights have been seen on other evenings suggests a more conventional cause, but this is speculation.

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