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Thursday, May 12, 2011

An unusual UFO over Reading

An unusual UFO over Reading, Part I

William C. Treurniet, November, 2010

Summary. In July, 2010, an unusual UFO moving across the sky over Reading, England, was photographed repeatedly over a 95 second interval. The pink and white object had an organic shape that changed often over the sequence of photographs. The object was observed to move in a zig-zag pattern inconsistent with passively drifting in the wind. Thus, the shape changes are not likely due to changes in orientation of a fixed-shape object, or the tumbling of a set of helium-filled balloons. A similar unusual shape appeared in a photograph of a UFO over New York City taken three months later. These shapes are also similar to some aerial forms photographed by Anthony Woods over the UK as recently as 2004.
On July 17, 2010, Claire O'Regan of Reading, England, photographed an unusual object as it moved through the sky overhead. She took 14 photographs with a Nikon D60 digital camera, following the object over a period of 1 min and 35 sec. These photographs were among a larger set containing additional anomalies that she forwarded to the author for analysis. The object was very small in each photograph, but due to the high resolution of the images (3872x2592 pixels), it could be cropped and enlarged to show considerable detail. The sequence of cropped images, appoximately 6-7 times the size of the originals, are shown in the following table. The original photograph having the smallest file size (~1 MB), taken at 18:27:31, can be seen here to gain a sense of perspective.
Sequence of photos (July 17, 2010)
     
18:27:13  18:27:17  18:27:18 
     
     
18:27:21  18:27:31  18:28:16 
     
     
18:28:18  18:28:23  18:28:26 
     
     
18:28:27  18:28:34  18:28:36 
     
     
18:28:38  18:28:48 
   
The object's shape seems to vary organically over time. For example, compare the object at times 18:27:17 and 18:27:31. In the first case, the object has an egg shape marked with pink lines while, in the second case, the object appears as if the lines have tightened and squeezed the egg into three joined bulbs. This brings to mind an image of cell mitosis, suggesting that the object might be biological in nature. It cannot be a nearby organism such as a bird or insect, however, since it was followed visually for 95 sec from the photographer's position, and was clearly high in the sky. The observed changes in shape over the range of images also mean that it is not a single, high-flying balloon.
Can one rule out the possibility that the object is a cluster of white balloons, tied together with pink ribbon and tumbling in the wind? This could have the effect of a continuously changing two-dimensional projection recorded by the camera. However, according to the photographer, the motion of the object was not consistent with a set of balloons drifting in the breeze. In her words, "I noticed that the object had a mechanical movement - it was a forward, left, forward, left motion, almost a judder. It became clear to me that this object was moving itself, rather than something moving it". The object appeared to be at a high altitude, and although the movements were tiny, they could be clearly seen. She offers in the following figure, a graphic depiction of the object's path as it moved along. Such a path is clearly at odds with wind as the only propulsive force.
 
As a further indication that the object was most likely not a set of balloons, another object that was clearly a balloon was photographed as it drifted past approximately 15 min after capturing the above sequence. This balloon was obviously being carried by the wind, and it was out of sight in a short time. Click on the following image to see the complete photograph.
 
In this photo, a relatively long ribbon is suspended below the balloon. Such a ribbon is typically used to anchor the helium-filled balloon near the ground. There is no indication of such a thing hanging below the mystery object. Since a set of helium-filled balloons accidentally released at a party is almost certain to have such long appendages attached, their absence is additional evidence that the object is probably not a cluster of balloons.

Discussion

The object does not have the fixed shape that is usually seen in UFO sightings. A remarkably similar organic shape was seen recently in a single photograph of a UFO over New York City. It was supposedly taken during the UFO flap on October 13, 2010. The published photograph (e.g., [1],[2], or [3],) is shown below on the left, and the slightly enlarged object cropped from that photo is on the right.
   
The object in this photograph was presented as a possible balloon in a news report carried by a number of outlets. Further, the article contained an interview with a bystander which suggested that the object in the accompanying photograph was being discussed. However, it appears that this particular object had actually been photographed days earlier (see here). All media reports attributed the photo to the twitter account of @jasondiamond. This account reports the following on October 9, 2010: "I totally caught a UFO hovering over the upper east side". Apparently, a photo used by the media to represent the spectacle of UFOs over New York City on October 13 was actually taken four days earlier.
Some have suggested that the owner of the twitter account published the photograph as a hoax. This seems unlikely now given the similarity of the object in this photograph to the object in the Reading photographs. Photographs of the Reading object were first published here on November 23, 2010, so these were not yet available when the New York photograph was published. The appearance of similar UFOs in photographs taken in such different places and times strongly suggests that this novel form of UFO is not a hoax.
James Neff has compiled a review of apparently organic forms that have appeared in the skies over the years. Of particular relevance in the review are the many photographs of seemingly living things captured by Anthony Woods in the skies over the United Kindom. Some of these objects are quite similar to the object in the Reading photographs. It appears that Claire O'Regan is continuing the work of Anthony Woods who is now retired.
See Part II for an analysis of a video prequel of the object pictured in the sequence of still images above. The video contains additional evidence that the object is not a balloon drifting in the wind.
---------------

An unusual UFO over Reading, Part II

William C. Treurniet, December, 2010

Summary. Still photographs of an unusual pink and white UFO moving across the sky over Reading, England, were discussed in an earlier report. The object had properties not consistent with a balloon drifting in the wind. This report discusses a short video taken of the same object just before the still photos were taken, and the video confirms that the object did not appear to behave like a balloon. The object's path varied over a 10-second interval, but there is reason to believe that this was not caused by gusts of wind since an airport weather data archive reported no gusting at that time. Further, it was accompanied less than a minute later by a second similar object. This object moved rapidly on a very straight path in a direction almost perpendicular to the path of the first object. The dissimilar motion characteristics and the lack of reported wind gusts suggest that these objects were self-propelled.

On July 17, 2010, Claire O'Regan of Reading, England, photographed an unusual object as it moved through the sky overhead. She took 14 photographs with a Nikon D60 digital camera, following the object over a period of 1 min and 35 sec. These photographs were discussed in Part I of this series. The following short video was also provided by the same photographer, and it includes the object seen later in the still photos. Two objects in the video are the subject of this report. Object A is first seen at time 00:23 and Object B is introduced at 01:02.
The two objects captured in this video are similar in appearance. Both are black dots and are noticeable because they move against a backdrop of white clouds. Although they are separated in time by less than a minute and are close together in space, they have very different directions of movement. Figure 1 shows the approximate trajectories of the two objects.
 
Figure 1. Trajectories of Objects A and B. 

Object A

00:23      

The video camera followed Object A for about 11 seconds. There was considerable movement of the camera and the digital zoom was changing at the same time. The images in Figure 2 on the left were cropped from the video at the times indicated. The different zoom factors were compensated by changing the size of each image until a particular cloud feature was the same size in all images. It was then possible to derive an estimate of the object's relative position in successive seconds by measuring it's distance in millimeters from a particular cloud feature present in all the images. The procedure assumes that the cloud's position in the sky varied much more slowly during the 11-second interval than the position of the object.
A metric ruler was used to measure the distance of the object from the selected cloud element. These measurements gave the distance traveled per second, and these values are shown graphically in Figure 3. If the object had been traveling at a constant speed and direction, all the points should have fallen on a smooth line. Since this did not happen, we can say that the speed and/or direction varied during the observation interval.


 
Figure 3. Object A: The distance traveled each second (mm). 


The successive positions of the object were all marked in Figure 4 by overlaying the images of Figure 2. The same cloud feature in all the images were exactly overlaid, and the directions of movement of the object relative to that feature are clearly visible. Note that the two larger gaps are due to the unavailability of samples at 00:29 and 00:31. From this image it appears that the variations plotted in Figure 3 were mostly due to changes in direction rather than speed.


 
Figure 4. Changes in the position of Object A. 
 
00:24   
00:25   
00:26   
00:27   
00:28   
00:30   
00:32   
00:33   
00:34   
Figure 2. Sequence of cropped Object A images with zoom adjusted. 
About a second after the end of the above sequence, the object changed from a black dot to the pink and white object in Figure 5. It is likely that this transformation was solely due to an increase in optical zoom making details more visible. The pink and white object is discussed further in Part I, where a sequence of still photos show additional changes to the shape that cannot be attributed to higher magnification.
 
Figure 5. The appearance of the pink & white object. 

Object B

Another tiny mobile dot was photographed beginning at 1:02 minutes into the video. Figure 6 shows a sequence of frames spanning an interval less than two seconds in duration. During this time, the object moved quickly in a direction nearly perpendicular to the object seen in Figures 2 and 4. It appears to be close to the cloud layer since it occasionally becomes less distinct and even disappears briefly. This proves, at least, that the dot is not a bird or a nearby insect.
Times in units of 30ths of a second
10  19  27  36  48 
           
Figure 6. Object B moving vertically starting at 1:02. 
Figure 7 shows the distance traveled by the object relative to a reference point in the cloud after successive 30thsof a second. In this case, the points on the graph are fit by a straight line very well. Any variation is within the range of measurement accuracy. This shows that the object was moving at a constant speed and direction during the slightly less than 2-second interval.
 
Figure 7. Object B: Distance traveled per unit time. 

Discussion

Object A appeared to emerge from the cloud as a black dot and proceeded to move slowly across the white cloud. After about 11 seconds, it transformed into a pink and white object, probably because of increased image magnification. It was picked up again in this form in the still photographs discussed in Part I. After careful alignment and resizing of frames extracted every second, relative changes in the position of the object were determined. The measured position was found to deviate from a straight line as the object moved along. Figure 4 shows clearly the progress of the object during the interval. The changes in direction seen in the figure might happen to a balloon buffeted by gusts of wind, but the METARS weather data archive reports that there were no gusting winds at that time of day. This is consistent with no obvious disturbance of cloud material during the observation interval.
Object B also appeared to emerge from the cloud at a nearby location, and immediately moved rapidly in a very different direction across the cloud surface. Measurements of Object B's changes in position indicated that its speed was constant within the limits of measurement error.
The behaviors of these two objects show that they were not passively responding to winds in the atmosphere. First, although the objects were sighted within a minute of each other and their positions were similar, the respective directions of motion were very different, almost perpendicular. Second, if Object A's varying speed suggests the presence of wind gusts, Object B's very constant speed suggests the complete absence of such gusts. So we can be reasonably sure that these objects were not balloons responding to the vagaries of the wind. The alternative is that these objects were somehow self-propelled.
See Part I for a discussion of a sequence of photographs of Object A taken after the above video.

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