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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 26, 2007 3:31:00 GMT -6
911 callers report lights in sky
His account: Last night just after 8:30, I was in the backyard smoking a cig and saw a light coming in toward Kings Mountain from the south-southeast. ... I went in the house and got my camera and came back out in the front yard to shoot it.
Emergency dispatchers around Charlotte handle wacky 911 calls each night. But Wednesday, agencies got the same type of unusual call:
A hovering light was in the sky.
Others described it as a plane that might be in trouble. A blueish glow. A fire in the sky. A light moving too slow to be a plane.
The calls came into Iredell, Lincoln, Mooresville and Huntersville emergency dispatchers around 8 p.m. -- with even a dispatcher's dad calling in a sighting and one Lincoln County officer reportedly seeing it.
Even stranger, the National Weather Service's Greer, S.C., office got similar calls around the same time in their area. But folks in between, in York, Gaston and Cleveland counties, had no 911 reports.
Take note, the Federal Aviation Administration had no reports of plane crashes. Huntersville police also dispatched an officer to look for the mysterious object: No immediate reports of little green men with ray guns.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 27, 2007 2:21:06 GMT -6
Update on the Charlotte UFO
"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."
"Today (Thursday, Jan 25), I was surprised to learn that there had been sightings of blue-green lights in the sky all the way from Charlotte, NC to Greenville/Spartanburg, SC -- and even a report from Kentucky -- and variously described as a meteor, space debris, or a slow-moving ball of light that changed directions, depending on who was telling the story. The Charlotte Observer newspaper featured the story on their website and requested any reports and photos from their readers, so I submitted my photo and brief report this afternoon.
The Observer immediately contacted me by phone and asked a few questions about the sighting, and in a matter of minutes they posted a RETOUCHED version of my photo on their website. Obviously, The Observer cropped the photo down and brightened it by many magnitudes, so the thing on their website looks like a brightly illuminated disk when, in fact, the thing I saw was more of a hazy glare and was not that bright."
Sounds like a sat or meteor breakup.
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
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