Wednesday, September 14, 2011
A strange light filmed in the sky over Auckland on Saturday night was probably not a UFO, comet, or rogue planet about to smash into Earth, astronomers say.
The descending point of light, which revealed a U-shaped nimbus when zoomed in on, was filmed in the sky west of Auckland about 6pm on Saturday.
The video was uploaded to YouTube by a user known as biggordy100 who narrates that the light is "back", indicating he has seen it in the past.
The tag-line on the video reads: "WTF is in our skies? ufo! nibiru? elenin? spaceship? comet? seen over Auckland at 18.00."
Nibiru is the name given by Doomsday and conspiracy blogs and websites to a supposed collision between Earth and a mystery planet - Planet X - that is supposed to occur in the early 21st Century.
According to Wikipedia, Nibiru was revealed to Wisconsin woman Nancy Lieder after aliens implanted a communications device in her brain.
Comet Elenin has a similar conspiracy theory attached to it - something about it actually being a secret brown dwarf star that is going to flip the Earth's magnetic polarity with disastrous results.
Astronomers who could be bothered have debunked both theories.
Astronomy educator at Auckland's Stardome Observatory, David Britten, said Nibiru would not hit Earth "because it doesn't exist".
He said the light that had been filmed was "almost certainly the contrails of a plane heading out over the Tasman Sea".
Britten said at that time, the sun had set enough for Auckland to be in shadow but the plane was still in the sun.
Its spreading contrail was catching the light and making the effect recorded.
Britten said the observatory was approached about similar sights semi-regularly.
"Look at the coverage over Hurricane Irene - if there was something out there that was going to hurt us, we would know about it.''
He said if the videographer had waited for dark, with a telescope he might have seen Saturn and its rings in approximately the same spot.
The "military satellite" theory is one explanation for the sighting of a large, glowing ball in the sky on Tuesday night, which appeared to pulsate before splitting into two separate lights.
"I've never seen anything like that before," Mr Steel said, adding it did not display any indications it was something coming through the atmosphere.
He had been outside his garage about 6.30pm when he spotted a light in the eastern sky, about 15 degrees above the horizon.
"It was far too bright for a star. I went straight inside and grabbed my camera."
When he returned outside the light was even brighter, but did not appear to be moving.
"My hands were shaking a bit ... It was this amazing orb and I knew it was not a regular star."
He figured it may have been an aircraft coming in. But the direction was wrong and then the sight of two lights shearing off the main one, which he caught on camera, just added to the mystery.
"I just can't explain it," Mr Steel said, adding the two lights then merged again into a bright light which emitted a flash before disappearing.
It lasted about 30 seconds.
Hawke's Bay Holt Planetarium director and astronomer Gary Sparks said the location suggested it may have been "space junk".
"A lot of old satellites are de-orbited off the coast of New Zealand," he said.
The vast expanse of Pacific Ocean to the east, the relative isolation and the depth of the water, made it the ideal dumping ground for extraterrestrial objects which military agencies did not want anyone to find or recover.
"It could have been military stuff," he said, adding that governments did not seek permission to drop things from space.
"They just go ahead and do it."
That it appeared stationary would have meant it was heading straight in, with the atmosphere creating oscillations and a glowing, dimming, or distorting appearance.
The pieces flying off may have been disintegration - the different colours reflecting the different materials.
But Mr Steel did not buy into the satellite suggestion as there was no indication of disintegrating debris and the object simply appeared to be hovering.
Jo Davy and James Gilbard discussing their new book, "Spooked" with Sarah Bradley on Good Morning, Tuesday 13th Sept.