Full Description & Details
I was traveling home from a part-time job while I was back in college seeking another undergraduate degree and happened to see an object in the dusk sky (this was during the winter). I was dumbstruck by the object's extreme brightness. It seemed to be so bright that it had to be a large searchlight with incredible candlepower. Its size in the sky may be approximated as the head of a tack or small nail head held at arm's length.
I had taken an astronomy course in college as an elective, Junior-level, science course to make my degree a BS rather than a BA for my first udergraduate degree, so I was quite familiar with what was supposed to be in the sky, or I should say more definitively, I KNEW that there was nothing in the night sky with that magnitude of brightness. Only the sun during the day exceeded its magnitude (the moon's light never gets bright enough to make your eyes hurt unless you view it through a telescope. This object had the brightness of a welder's torch, albeit far away from me and relatively small.
I was driving up a hill towards home and just happen to catch the brightness in my eye (as it was directly in my field of view) directly in front of me or I might not have noticed it. At that time of day, the sky was still too bright to have stars or planets showing through.
I went home and continued to watch it as I drove. My father and mother lived next door and my wife was already home from work, too. I called to them (my parents by phone) and we all went up to the top of a hill at the end of our rural road. I had rushed inside and got my inexpensive telescope and we set it up and watched it for approximately 35-40 minutes.
MOST INTERESTINGLY, I had a CB radio in my car (this was before it was cool to own one and before the TV show about truckers that made them so popular). I broadcast from the top of the hill to other CBers that might be listening and had them look up where they were to see if they could see it from where they were. I thought that by doing so, I could "triangulate" on it to determine the depth of the object to my perception (that is, was it a celestial object or was it something closer--perhaps close to us).
You can imagine my surprise to find that many people could see it and that they were located all AROUND the object. That is, different people twenty to thirty miles away from each other stated that it was east, west, north and south of them. That meant that the object (which was southwest of me) was relatively close to us. We approximated by everyone's location and its location to them that it was above a small town located about fifteen miles from me and southwest of my location. Everyone that saw it stated that they had never seen such a bright light in the sky, especially during the day.
We watched it until I noticed while looking in the telescope that the object appeared to be changing colors from a bright white/blue light to more of a yellow color and then reddish to full red over approximately 15 seconds and was getting smaller. Within 45 seconds, no one on the radio could see it and my telescope had lost it, even though I was careful to keep it in the middle of the viewing screen and not touch the telescope.
It was either getting smaller and changing colors from my perspective, but others reported it moving to a different area of the sky from them (traveling in a southwest direction from me and most of them (some lost it behind trees and could not say which way it went).
I called the local airport and sked them before I went to the top of the hill if they knew of any aircraft hovering southwest of GReenville and they put me on hold and came back to say no.
The next day, the local newspaper stated that there were reports of an unidentified flying object where we saw that one. Several weeks later, the newspaper stated that the Air Force stated that what we saw was a weather balloon.
Now I must admit that I have never viewed a weather balloon in the sky to my knowledge, but for that "balloon" to hover in the sky for that long and move at the same rate as the earth's rotation and then to change color and disappear so quickly does not SEEM to describe a weather balloon. Plus: 1) there is no local Air Force Base anywhere near this area. The closest ones at the time were several hundred miles away and were fighter bases. 2) the local airport stated that there was nothing hovering in the sky southwest of Greenville that they knew of; 3) that the location to all of us viewing it would indicate that it was pretty close to the ground and we all agreed that it left the area in a hurry; AND 4) the newspaper was reporting other unidentified flying objects in the Greenville area during those few weeks.
I have a graduate degree and three undergraduate degrees.
I believe that as the Jodie Foster, star of the movie "Contact" says in the movie, "It seems like an awful waste of space if there are not other civilizations out there."
She also quotes some impressive statistics about the probability of intelligent life sopme place in the universe, but I won't try to specifically quote them. What she says though is that if only the smallest fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of one percent of all of the suns (stars) out there has a planet that supports intelligent life, there would be literally billions of civilizations out there, and that is just in our own galaxy!
Reported Sighting? No
Your Location: Greenville, SC USA