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Sighting Reports 2010

Man Takes Photo of Colorful Airborne Lights Over San Francisco

Photo of Lights and Annotations Added to Show Position of Lights.
Photo of Lights and Annotations Added to Show Position of Lights.

Date of Sighting: September 18, 2010
Time of Sighting: 8:45 PM PDT
Location of Sighting: San Francisco, California

Description: I was taking pictures out my window. I took one picture and saw mysterious lights. When I took another picture, the largest light had gone and the smaller ones had moved. I was not able to see the lights in the sky. I thought it was lens flare from my camera, but I cleaned it and took a picture in another direction and it wasn't there. I only saw the lights in that direction.

Note: The witness used a high quality camera (Canon EOS REBEL T1i) to take the photos. The bright lighting at the surface evident on the above photo could have created a "lens flare" effect on the camera. Another possibility is that the lights were reflections of ground lights off of low clouds in the area. The weather observation showed a few clouds at 1,400 feet and scattered clouds at 3,800 feet. The witness did not see the lights and did not detect the lights in subsequent photos taken in different directions.

Comments Received September 20, 2010: The lights in the sky in this photo are almost certainly internal reflections in the camera. I arrived at this conclusion by squinting my eyes, as an aid to determining the brightest areas in the lower part of the photo. Then I drew a line between the bright spotlight on the building near the center, and the sky image immediately above it, and then marked the midpoint of that line with a green dot. Then I repeated the process, starting with each bright area in the lower part of the image, drawing a line to a likely corresponding sky light. I tried my best not to look at where each line crossed as I did so, but after each I saw that every one crossed at the green dot, which is also the center of the photo! Thus it is evident that the sky lights and the brightest ground lights form a mirror-image configuration, centered on the midpoint of the photograph! This can hardly be coincidence. See the attached jpeg (below) that I marked up to reflect my analysis.

Annotated Image Sent by Commenter Showing "Mirror- Image" Reflection of Bright Ground Lights Onto Sky.
Annotated Image Sent by Commenter
Showing "Mirror- Image" Reflection of Bright Ground Lights Onto Sky.

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