Newsletter No. 2 - December 1, 2013

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Approximately once each week the UFO-Track™ newsletter concisely keeps you up to date with a summary of the most important data from the UFO-Track project. We also provide snippets and links to a sampling of interesting or important UFO sightings around the country and around the Earth, current news of fireballs, space sciences tidbits, a summary of astronomical data, and a quick informational topic called “John’s Investigator Corner” designed to encourage a scientific and rational approach to the subject of UFOs.

Feel free to read all the sections, or to skip to your favorites. Be sure to let us know of any significant or interesting news, links, or topics you’d like to share with everyone. Above all, keep your eyes to the skies, and enjoy the ride!

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UFOs in the news

Something strange through a telescope
Jeremy Thomas caught something strange on video through his Meade telescope this week. It could be a drifting balloon, but it does appear to change course part way through the filming, rather than continue to drift with the prevailing wind. This three and a half minute Youtube video is worth the watch.

It fell from the sky
Marc Rubin, a resident of Bayport, New York, saw something falling from the blue sky in late November. He was able to snap a couple of pictures with his cell phone. A second independent witness reported an airplane falling from the sky, but after a thorough check, authorities ruled out any airplanes in trouble. Nobody knows what this object was. Here's a report by a local news station.

Filmed near tornado weather
A couple Sundays back an estimated 16 tornados touched down in Indiana and Illinois. A silver dot was filmed for over a minute as it zipped around in various directions in the ominously dark sky near Noblesville, Indiana. A tornado was reported to have touched the ground about 8 miles away at the same time as this video was made.

(Credit: MUFON)
According to the UFO reports arriving at MUFON, November sightings are up 37% compared to last month, and the total sightings for the year are up 22% compared to last year. Click here to review MUFON's statistics, and to see recent raw (not yet investigated) sightings information.

A lot of UFO reports have streamed in from witnesses all over the south part of California in the last couple weeks. Check out the MUFON or NUFORC websites for all the details. Here's one example report from the NUFORC database, where the witness saw a bright reddish-orange object fly around slowly above Ocean View, California, for about 5 minutes. The object flashed brightly and emitted sparks until it moved out over the ocean and disappeared.

As seen from airplane window
Zoomed in on the "orbs"
An interesting sighting report filed with MUFON on November 30 includes pictures taken from an airplane window over the high desert country of California showing 3 extremely bright "orbs" of light on or near the ground in the distance. In this case, there is a highly probable explanation that's interesting in itself. In the 90's John programmed several of the world's largest heliostat and photovoltaic tracking solar energy fields, and he's seen this before. A little research reveals that the pictures show the new Ivanpah Solar Field comprised of three large radial arrays of heliostats, each using thousands of mirrors reflecting sunlight towards 3 central receiver towers. Because of the way these mirrors are parked in a safe "standby" position, the reflections from the helostats are bright and highly visible for quite awhile as an airplane traverses the sky. Here's a Google Map satellite view of the field, and this National Geographic article describes the field well. Read the raw report (uninvestigated), here at the MUFON site.

Fireball news

Several fireball sightings have been logged at the American Meteor Society (see link below) in the past few days. Some of the witnesses provide accurate sighting data, such as starting and ending azimuth and elevation angles, a reasonable estimate of magnitude or brightness, and so on. But, unfortunately, many people don't have the experience to know how to best fill out these reports. Here's a decent report of a fireball seen over the Seattle, WA area by multiple witnesses at about 10 pm on the night of November 27.

Early this morning, December 1, a fireball was seen over Ivins, UT. This sighting is in "pending" status, but it's interesting in that we can probably explain this one as the International Space Station. The raw description from the witness reads, "Slow moving large ball of light, brighter than the moon going from West mid horizon to the South. Object looked large and bright and took about 2 min. to cross the sky. Plenty of time to call my wife out to see it with me as it disappeared high in the Southern sky." The reported time of the sighting is listed as 5:55 am. A check with the Heavens-Above website (see link below) shows that the ISS (International Space Station) did fly over Ivins this morning at a few minutes after 6 am. It's trajectory closely matched that of this fireball report, and its calculated magnitude shows it was very bright in the early morning sky. Most likely this explains the sighting, although an interview with the witness would help to better make that determination.

Space news

India's Mars Orbiter Mission has left Earth orbit and is heading for the red planet, with an arrival scheduled for September, 2014. A nice write-up can be read on the Mars Daily website.

China's third lunar probe, the Chang'E Three is set to launch in early December. This lunar rover, nicknamed "Jade Rabbit", will use completely automatic navigation and operation, making it one of the most sophisticated robotic explorers to reach the moon by any country.

Astronomy weekly

Comet ISON did appear to break up as it looped close the sun, but enough of it might have survived to be observable in the next few days and weeks. Everyone's just standing by to see how it goes, although hopes are fading.

Currently, Saturn, Mercury, the Moon, and possibly comet ISON are all visible in the early morning sky about half an hour before sunrise. By December 3 the Moon will have moved on, but ISON will be higher in the sky as it leaves the vicinity of the sun. Venus continues to shine very brightly in the southwest after sunset.

John's investigator corner

Azimuth and elevation angles are important for accurately understanding UFO sightings. Azimuth is fairly easy, with north at 0 degrees, east at 90, south at 180, and west at 270 degrees. Elevation, however, is notoriously difficult for most observers to report accurately.

Elevation angle is from the horizon up

Most people vastly underestimate elevation angles, and when asked to point to an imaginary point in the sky at an elevation of 45 degrees, most people point to somewhere near 30 degrees, and a point at 60 degrees elevation you'd swear is almost straight overhead. This illusion is very real, and I encourage you to experiment as follows to become better than most at estimating elevation angles.

A fun way to check out elevation angles is to go outside, look at the moon and guess it's elevation. Next, go to the Wolfram Alpha website, type in something like "moon elevation in parker, co" to see what the Moon's current elevation is at your location, and see if you were accurate.

This also works well for Venus, or any stars you know by name. For example, "sirius elevation in parker, co" tells me that the star Sirius is currently at -61 degrees elevation. I'll check again with Sirius after the sun goes down tonight.

UFO Website of the Week

Dennnis Balthaser labels his website "Truthseeker at Roswell", and Stanton Friedman on Coast to Coast once stated, "Dennis is the researcher in Roswell all the other researchers go to for the answers." His website is fascinating, and informative.

Heavens-Above A great way to check out Iridium flares and overflights of the ISS (International Space Station) in your neck of the woods, or anywhere on Earth for that matter. Iridium flares and the ISS are sometimes reported as UFOs due to their amazing and fascinating appearance in the sky. Plan your next satellite viewing party, or check out sightings with this great tool.

Wolfram Alpha This site provides a vast amount of useful data for UFO researchers. What time did the sun set or rise? What was the phase of the moon and how high was it in the sky on a given date at a given location?

Sky Data Was the moon in the sky at the time and place of a sighting? How about Jupiter or Saturn? I’ve created a handy, and very accurate, easy to use software tool for UFO investigations, to help clear the air of any questions about exactly which of the visible planets, the moon, and the sun were visible.

Google Maps and Bing Maps are great resources for working with a witness to determine the location (latitude and longitude) of a sighting.

UFO investigator toolkit Here’s a list of some tools that serious UFO field investigators may find handy. Keep any or all of these items handy in a quick-grab box or bag so you’ll be ready to go on an investigation at a moments notice.

Mufon is a good organization to join if you want to learn more about UFOs. You’ll keep up to date with the latest sightings in your part of the country as well as around the world. Mufon’s field investigator training is very worthwhile.

Nuforc The National UFO Reporting Center is “Dedicated to the Collection and Dissemination of Objective UFO Data”, providing a great resource for serious investigators.

National UFO Center This web site the home for George Filer, with over two million hits in October. Consider signing up for his weekly newsletter, called “Filer’s Files”.

Roger Marsh Another good source of recent sightings information, Roger’s Examiner articles help you keep up to date with the latest. Examiner articles have recently become overloaded with intrusive advertising, but if you don’t mind wading through and around those, Roger’s information is excellent.

Fireballs The American Meteor Society provides a list of very up-to-date fireball sightings reports. If there’s any chance a UFO sighting might actually be a meteor entering the atmosphere, or vice versa, this site can help sort out the details.


Lewis and Clark journaled about the little gray guys with large heads and magic poison arrows that could kill at long distances. They lived on a hill in South Dakota, a hill where Native Americans would not go. Available on Amazon for Kindles and free reader programs for every device.
Stan Romanek has a lot to report on alien abductions - he's been in the thick of it for years! There are some extremely interesting predictions and explanations you can pick up from this book. Fascinating!
Check out all the fine Kindle and paperback books published by Books to Believe In, publisher of Aliens in American History - Spirit Mound. They're motto is to make the world a better place.
John's space-age invention, inspired by the perceived function and appearance of UFO lights, is now available. It's an ultra-bright intelligent brake light and safety beacon for your bicycle that requires no wiring, no switches, and it adjusts automatically so you can even wear it on your helmet.


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