Meteors can move “upward”
I missed mentioning this important point when I mentioned it in IFO University. I have read far too many UFO reports of fireballs, where the witness states “it could not be a meteor because it rose in the sky”. This is a mistake by the observer and a mistake by UFOlogists/investigators for not making it clear that meteors can go in any direction or angle in the sky.
To quote Allan Hendry:
A common misconception about meteors appears to be that they have to travel downward to the earth and in an arc.... One of the most repeated comments offered me was that “the IFO couldn’t be a meteor because it was traveling horizontally,” parallel to the earth’s horizon, “instead of dropping.” Actually, since we are only viewing an apparent trajectory along our line of vision, any meteor can appear to adopt ANY direction and angle including upward, and it need not move in a curving path.
As one can see in this image I grabbed from my meteor videos, it is not unusual to see meteors move upward relative to the horizon of the observer. I only include one but I have many examples.
Meteors that rise in altitude!
Not only can meteors appear to rise upward and not fall, they can also actually increase in altitude. Earth grazing meteors skip off the Earth’s atmosphere. They come in at a shallow angle, reach a low point and then exit the atmosphere. A good example of this is the August 10, 1972 daylight fireball. Research showed it reached a low point of about 58km and then rose in altitude as it exited the atmosphere. However, this fireball is not an isolated case. There are probably a good number of earth-grazing meteors seen every year. They are just not as well documented as the August 1972 fireball.
Comets rarely produce UFO reports because they usually are not bright enough to be seen by the causal observer. However, occasionally a bright comet does appear and witnesses have no idea what they are looking at because it is not announced in the local press. Comets do not move the way some people expect. Some believe a comet will move rapidly across the sky but the only motion that can be perceived for most of the night is that of the earth’s rotation. The changing position of the comet usually can only be seen from night to night similar to the moon’s position can be seen to shift from night to night. As a result, a comet will set in the west and rise in the east just like most celestial objects.
In 2006, a comet was discovered that had the potential for being a fantastic sight but it was not favorable for northern hemisphere observers unless you knew where and when to look. Comet Mcknaught became quite the southern hemisphere spectacle in late January and February of 2007 but it was briefly visible with the naked eye for Northern Hemisphere observers in early January 2007. I personally made several trips out to the local lake in order to obtain some very interesting photographs in bright twilight of the comet (the photograph above was taken with a 600mm lens and is only 1/2 second long). It was as bright as Venus and I was able to locate it before sunset on one occasion. Apparently, this individual noticed the comet but was not aware of what they were seeing. This observation was listed as being 40 minutes long, which is pretty close to how long it would have been visible:
I was walking my dog and saw the object high in the sky leaving a short contrail in its wake. At first, I thought this was a high altitude aircraft which I often see and paid it no mind. As I got closer to home I noticed that it was pretty big even though it was very high up and seemed to be traveling west. At that moment my son was pulling into the driveway exclaiming, “What the hell is that!” I told him I thought it was a high altitude aircraft and he disagreed. He said “Dad, really take a look at it! Thats no plane!” I told him to run inside and get my binoculars and when he returned with them, the object was farther away and nearing the treeline. We observed this object, which he was right, was no plane, traveling high and appearing to be burning up in the atmosphere. It was cylindrical in shape and was bright orange and yellow and leaving a smoke trail behind it. It also seemed incredibly large in size considering that it was so high up. We couldnt make out any windows or control surfaces such as wings and such, but it was very high and far downrange when we finally looked at it with binoculars. large object entering our atmosphere and Also at the time I looked at it with binoculars it seemed to have changed from traveling like a missle, to traveling on its side and like a bar and at an angle so contrails were forming from both its ends. Very cool looking and extremely odd to see at that time of day. The sun wasnt exactly setting yet and it was pretty much still daylight outside. The sun really brightened up the contrails in the sky too.
Comets can generate UFO reports BUT it has to be under the right conditions. This October, there is a comet (by the name of Elenin) that will be visible to keen-eyed observers just before dawn. It might generate a UFO report or two.
Notes and references
Hendry, Allan. 1. The UFO Investigators Handbook. London: Sphere Books Ltd. 1980. p. 42-3
Davenport, Peter. National UFO Cen2. ter UFO Reports Database.
Quelle: SUNlite 2/2011