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johnNdeb
2010-Nov-14, 07:15 AM
I am an avid skywatcher now but earlier in my life I could have cared less about anything unusual in our heavens. I had seen meteors and eclipses, comets, unusual jets, blimps etc. Until one night driving home at around 2am back in 1988. I had just left work and was heading east towards I-17 in Phoenix. Before I got on the freeway I saw the cops and emergency vehicles at a stand off with some guy getting ready to jump off the overpass. I slowly drove through (rubber necking) the situation to enter the freeway heading north. As I got on I-17 I had to peer back one last time to see if the guy had jumped but was distracted by an unusual light to the west of me. It appeared to be darting back and forth in the sky, stopping for a few seconds (staying perfectly still) and then darting to a new location in the sky of about a quarter mile. I went through a process of elimination as to what it could be, an airplane coming in? No cuz it was erratic and had multicolored lights. It also was not on an even flight path. A helicopter? Afterall, there was activity going on at the overpass. No, because helicopters don't have multicolored lights and move across the sky a quarter of a mile in half a second. A blimp? I thought, but again the distance traveled was too far, too quick. Maybe I am just seeing a reflection on the glass of my window? I rolled my window down and it was still there. I could not explain what I saw and have been looking for something similar to it ever since. Any suggestions?

slang
2010-Nov-14, 08:43 PM
Hi johnNdeb. Welcome to BAUT, and I'm lookin' for a date!

No, not coming on to you, just asking if you remember when in 1988 this was. If you don't remember which day, maybe at least which month?

Centaur
2010-Nov-15, 04:12 AM
...I could have cared less...

What possibly could be the meaning of such a seemingly nonsensical expression? In my case, I couldn’t care less about that UFO unless given a precise date.

Jens
2010-Nov-15, 04:50 AM
What possibly could be the meaning of such a seemingly nonsensical expression? In my case, I couldn’t care less about that UFO unless given a precise date.

"I could care less" means the same as "I couldn't care less." It's colloquial, probably American English.

Centaur
2010-Nov-15, 05:03 AM
"I could care less" means the same as "I couldn't care less." It's colloquial, probably American English.

I realize that some people use the nonsensical form, Jens. Sorry, but the use of that expression is a pet peeve of mine. I know I should resist commenting, but it is difficult.

Here’s John Cleese making fun of it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCUsPnKD1gk

And here’s a more thorough analysis: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-ico1.htm

Jens
2010-Nov-15, 05:50 AM
I realize that some people use the nonsensical form, Jens. Sorry, but the use of that expression is a pet peeve of mine. I know I should resist commenting, but it is difficult.


A bit off topic, but how do you feel about "head over heels in love"? I don't know how we got it, but having your head over your heels tends to imply you are not falling. "Heels over head" would seem more proper.

astromark
2010-Nov-15, 06:30 AM
I will get back to topic... but this is what's wrong with some of us...
"I could care less" implies you could care less...
where as "I couldn't care less" implies you could not...
If you can not see that these two statements are in opposition then we are doomed to never understand each other evermore....
Back to the OP....
This fellow tells us he was driving home... That's in a moving auto on a free way.... Any distant light, aircraft, or whatever.
Is prone to massive distortions of movement by that fact. You are mobile... Perspective is lost.
Opening the window eliminated a reflection error... but the fact that you were mobile. A utter distortion of perspective...
Go out at night..in your car.. test this against landing aircraft lights... Bingo !

johnNdeb
2010-Nov-15, 09:51 AM
Hey Centaur, sorry about the bad english but I'm just a common guy looking for an answer. I saw something that astounded me and it has been years since I have seen anything like that. Just wondering if anyone has some sort of an answer to my enigma? It was probably early November or late October considering my window was up. Afterall, it was 22 years ago. This is the first time I have ever actually put my experience up for discussion. Normally, I would not do such a thing but that one incident has been haunting me for nearly a lifetime and it seems to me that this forum has some bright people that may have an answer. Please feel free to pick apart the whole thing even if it is my use of bad phrases.

Ara Pacis
2010-Nov-15, 05:34 PM
Overpasses often have lightpoles. Could it have been an insect darting in and around a lamp's cone of illumination?

Centaur
2010-Nov-15, 07:12 PM
Hey Centaur, sorry about the bad english but I'm just a common guy looking for an answer. I saw something that astounded me and it has been years since I have seen anything like that. Just wondering if anyone has some sort of an answer to my enigma? It was probably early November or late October considering my window was up. Afterall, it was 22 years ago. This is the first time I have ever actually put my experience up for discussion. Normally, I would not do such a thing but that one incident has been haunting me for nearly a lifetime and it seems to me that this forum has some bright people that may have an answer. Please feel free to pick apart the whole thing even if it is my use of bad phrases.

Sorry, John. I’ll have to learn to stop feeling compelled to comment whenever I see that expression. Welcome to the discussion group.

On 1988 SEP 27, Mars was in perihelic opposition to the Sun as viewed from Earth, i.e. quite close to Earth. It was still rather bright for several weeks afterward. From Phoenix at 02:00 during the period around 1988 NOV 1, Mars would have appeared brighter than Sirius and low in the western sky. Nearness to the horizon could cause some flickering and color changes due to interaction with the atmosphere. Seemingly jumping about is common when attempting to observe a celestial object from a moving vehicle, especially through a rearview mirror.

astromark
2010-Nov-15, 07:43 PM
I did not conclude the image was reported as through the mirror...
I do want to emphasize the perception of motion and placement are considerably distorted by your motion...
Light poles. Free way sign age. trees. over bridges, and buildings. Can all play a roll in destroying any perspective you have...
View anything from a moving platform and you are fighting perception and depth of field vision...
The landing lights of a distant aircraft. Or the tail light of a climbing away air craft.. from a moving car can be very confusing.
Do it at night with artificial lighting to throw you all sorts of distractions... Near and far are complexional, and destroyed...
Had you stopped and made a observation from a stationary point of view. You would have drawn a different conclusion...

Ara Pacis
2010-Nov-15, 08:23 PM
Not to mention that eyeglasses can cause visual anomalies.

johnNdeb
2010-Nov-15, 10:51 PM
Thank you very much for your input. There are quite a few factors that had not crossed my mind. I have to say though that the only time I saw it in my rearview mirror is when it had moved from directly west of me in about a second and shot across the sky to the southeast over south mountain. As I entered the on ramp and for the next 2 minutes after that I was traveling at approximately 20 mph. I could not figure out what was darting across the sky back and forth. To give you an idea of it's movements, I would like you to hold the mouse pointer to the left of the screen and in one fluid motion move the mouse to the right. Watch how the pointer moves across the screen. That is how it moved across the horizon at 3 in the morning before darting off behind me to the south east.

Centaur
2010-Nov-16, 05:05 AM
Thank you very much for your input. There are quite a few factors that had not crossed my mind. I have to say though that the only time I saw it in my rearview mirror is when it had moved from directly west of me in about a second and shot across the sky to the southeast over south mountain. As I entered the on ramp and for the next 2 minutes after that I was traveling at approximately 20 mph. I could not figure out what was darting across the sky back and forth. To give you an idea of it's movements, I would like you to hold the mouse pointer to the left of the screen and in one fluid motion move the mouse to the right. Watch how the pointer moves across the screen. That is how it moved across the horizon at 3 in the morning before darting off behind me to the south east.

You’re welcome. Throughout this discussion let’s keep in mind that police detectives become frustrated by witnesses whose recollections become distorted after 22 minutes let alone 22 years.

I’ve now looked at a map and see that I-17 runs south to terminate in Phoenix. So I was wrong in assuming that you were continuing in the easterly direction in which you began. As I said earlier, from Phoenix at 02:00 MST on 1988 NOV 01, bright Mars would have been fairly low in the west. Nearly as bright Sirius would have been fairly low in the southeast. In fact, at a slightly later date they would have been exactly as bright. At times they would have been at exactly the same angular altitude above the horizon. Jupiter would have been brighter than Mars or Sirius and high in the south. I suggest that while trying to concentrate on following the roads and their twists and being distracted by an emergency situation, two of the bright celestial objects I mentioned (probably Mars and Sirius) could have been thought of as only one, thus resulting in confusion.

astromark
2010-Nov-16, 07:00 AM
JohnNdeb; Nothing wrong with asking. You have explained your sighting well...
From my point of view. There must be a explanation. That we can not nail it to the wall is always a little frustration...
So I look for other explanations.
Try and see it from another point of view... Your attention was captured by a bright light that appeared to dart around the sky... random, and quick.
You were in a moving vehicle. On a well lit free way... a recipe for confusion...
If you understand that near to you objects like over bridges and trees pass through your field of view very quickly... while a more distant object may confuse you. Because the explanation that suggests you saw a UFO is unacceptable. ( for me ):wall:

Substantia Innominata
2010-Nov-26, 03:37 PM
..but was distracted by an unusual light to the west of me. It appeared to be darting back and forth in the sky, stopping for a few seconds (staying perfectly still) and then darting to a new location in the sky of about a quarter mile.

Would there've been a cloud cover, or even just sufficient haze in the air: Sounds rather like a mistaken "skybeam", doesn't it? I mean one of these "skybeamers", i. e. powerful spotlights on the ground, directed into the night sky, meanwhile also often moved in a more or less brandishing fashion, and nowadays commonly used for various commercial/promotional purposes; as to indicate the location of night clubs, and the like. In my own sight and speaking from experience it can be fairly easy to overlook the actual column. In certain conditions it may be barely visible, if at all. So that you cannot see its "link" to the ground, and instead only notice a brighly lighted patch or spot, that marks its endpoint, for example, on the bottom of a cloud, or, as I said, really just a pall of smog. How difficult is it, to mistake something of the sort for an (isolated/tangible) object in the sky? Which may then, of course, easily appear to move in the sweeping manner and with the impressive speed you described. Additionally, the multicolored aspect you clearly recalled does not have to belie my "hypothesis" either, since this often is a very feature of these light-installations. It is achieved, for instance, by just letting a whole bundle of highly collimated beams gyrate, yet with each beam having a somewhat different color. Or some such thing.

Just try to picture the result -- while not noticing its telltale column. Could it not appear, exactly, like the "thing" you've seen back then? When I do it, I have in view what I'd probably describe just as what you've described above. And at least the "technology" concerned here of course isn't really 21st century only. It's been around in 1988. It's been around, in fact, since the 1930s -- if not earlier. It is everywhere, and more often than not its principal "application" seems to be one of mere pollution; light pollution, that is. Astronomer's nemesis. Whilst at the same time, others are simply deceived and suspect all sorts of strange flying objects in the sky. All in all, it's a well-known topic, and nuisance, especially for PSAPs...

This is only meant to be one more suggestion. Although I must say I find it slightly more reasonable than a back-and-forth darting, multicolored.. Mars.

R.A.F.
2010-Nov-26, 05:36 PM
...the explanation that suggests you saw a UFO is unacceptable. ( for me ):wall:

Why?...obviously he saw something he couldn't identify, which is the "U" in "UFO".