Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bright blue-green ball with a white tail seen in night sky

I give my whole hearted thanks to CHARLES MILLER who took the original picture
This sighting took place on Jan. 24, 2007 Location
Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

911 callers report lights in sky
Unknown Freaky Orb drew eyes, imaginations across area


Earthlings, you've had an otherworldly experience, a cosmic encounter.

About 8 p.m. Wednesday, something peculiar flashed in the sky -- something twinkly, something colorful, something eye-catching.

Something strange. And blue. Or green. Or blue-green.

"Bright blue-green ball with a white tail," says Jim Neal of Shelby, who spotted it just west of Blacksburg, S.C., after dinner at Kelly's Steak House.

"A greenish-like light low in the sky," says Julie Bigham, driving home from church with her kids near Matthews. "We thought a small plane or helicopter was going to crash."

"A slow-moving bluish glow," says David Whitesides who works in Polkton and who watched it while soaking in his hot tub.

"Large, bright green ball," says Brett Lay, who was headed to Chick-fil-A in Gastonia with his wife and four children after church. "Had a haze about it."

"Almost looked like a flare," reports Amy Bromberg, who was on Interstate 485. "Kind of creepy."

Venus, perhaps? It's often a suspect in UFO sightings, particularly when it's as bright as it is right now.

Not Venus. It vanished beneath the horizon about 7 p.m.

Stricken plane?

Nope. All aircraft accounted for.

Space junk? Errant satellite?

Negative, says NORAD. No re-entries of the sizable man-made objects they track.

OK. So ... alien object?

Bingo. But not the E.T. variety.

"A fireball," says Daniel Caton, observatory director and astronomy professor at Appalachian State University in Boone.

Based on the reports, Caton believes it was an unusually bright meteor that burned up about 30 miles high in the atmosphere somewhere above Charlotte. Sightings came from more than 100 miles away.

Many witnesses say the light appeared to fizzle at the end and break into pieces, making it a special kind of fireball called a bolide. In the universe of meteors, they're A-List entertainers, known for their splashy finales.

Each day, an estimated 4 billion meteors burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Most are the size of sand grains, but rocks tumble in, too. NASA estimates that the Earth packs on several tons a day in meteors.

Some witnesses who contacted the Observer on Thursday wondered whether it could be debris from the recent anti-satellite test by China.

Probably not -- but maybe, says Michael Kucharek, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command near Colorado Springs, Colo., which tracks satellites and space junk -- everything from lost screwdrivers to astronaut gloves. He says he's been getting an unusually high number of calls this week about things spotted in the sky.

China's satellite-zapping exercise has probably increased space litter by about a million pieces, making it nearly as untidy as Interstate 77 in Charlotte.

"It's anybody's guess," Kucharek says, "what direction this stuff has gone."

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