View Full Version : What did I see?

2009-Jun-19, 05:36 PM
I work 10 miles N of Dalhart Texas. Last night 2:24 am while coming out of the barn I saw a flash kinda like lightning, it lite up the area to almost daylight. Since we had thunderstorms about 4 hours earlier I was looking for the bolt. The sky was clear I could see all the stars. When I turned and looked to the north sky I saw a red ball with a yellow circle around it. It was almost the size of a basketball and about as high up as a firwork would be. The ball was traveling toward the north. All of a sudden it sorta exploded, more like just went away. There was NO SOUND. 3 mins later there was a sonic boom.
Thanks for any help in this

Fiery Phoenix
2009-Jun-19, 05:57 PM
Betelgeuse gone supernova already?

Haha, I'm just kidding. I honestly can't tell what you saw. Seems like something weird to imagine.

2009-Jun-19, 08:48 PM
It sounds like a fireball, a relatively big meteor entering the atmosphere and breaking up, such as this one from over Texas in February (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/02/15/fireball-over-texas/), but I haven't heard of a recent one.

2009-Jun-20, 12:16 AM
Or it actually was a firework, some distance from you. I assume the 3 minutes is a guesstimate, unless you actually timed it?

2009-Jun-20, 12:21 AM
Or it actually was a firework, some distance from you. I assume the 3 minutes is a guesstimate, unless you actually timed it?

That would be my guess as well. The ball shape and the coloration makes it sound like a firework, the only thing is the time difference. Three minutes seems to much for a firework if it appeared to be the size of a basketball in the sky.

2009-Jun-20, 01:32 PM
Well, the "size of a basketball" is open to interpretation.

If the basketball is in my hand, it looks quite large.

If it is 300 yards away, it looks quite small.

If it is a mile away, it looks tiny.

And this is the time of year in the US when fireworks are being sold.

And the "sonic boom" could very well be the sound from the firework. The large commercial kind make a noise that can be heard many miles away (where I live, close to twenty miles).

Jeff Root
2009-Jun-20, 02:58 PM
I've been hearing people setting off fireworks occasionally at night since
the end of May. Unusually early, this year. I often hear the big public
fireworks displays from two miles away. The twenty miles that aurora
suggests is a bit hard to believe, but I suppose in the right atmospheric
conditions, that is possible for very loud fireworks. The 36-mile distance
implied by a three-minute delay is a real stretch. Do you allow nukyuler-
powered fireworks in Texas?

People often compare the size of something they see in the sky to an
object such as a basketball. I never know what to make of such a
comparison. Obviously, a basketball 36 miles away would be invisibly
tiny. Even one mile away, a baskeball would probably be invisible.
A basketball held in the hand at arm's length would fill a large part of
your field of view. It would be comparable to the size of the monitor
screen in front of me right now as I type. It seems most unlikely that
you meant anything like either of those extremes, but if you intended
something in between, calling what you saw "almost the size of a
basketball" doesn't explain it.

Did the red ball glow? Did the yellow circle glow? How big was the
circle in relation to the size of the ball?

It would be helpful for reports like this if BAUT had a fireworks expert
who knew all the different varieties, and how they look and sound!

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

2009-Jun-20, 06:22 PM
OK If you held a basketball outstretched in your hands and looked at it then looked up thay would look to be the same size. ie a marble and a large star.
Yes the ball was glowing both the red and the yellow circle. The surronding yellow was about 1/10 the area. It was traveling toward the north, no I dont know if it was direct north but it was heading up along 385 toward Boise City Ok
2:24 in the morning is a bit late to be having a firework disply. I know the time based on looking at my cell phone and the time difference again since I looked at the phone again so I would know the time in case this was something else. sorry it was 4 mins...2:28 Yes I wrote it down in my cow book I keep to have a record of what happened if I need the info at a later date.
After talking to my Dad and S/O they both feel it was military manuvers and what I saw was a missle launch due to the flash and no sounds untill the boom. This area has a couple dairys and it is well known that the last employee leaves at 1:30 and the last milk truck run is at 2 am. There is nothing else around us but cows and fields all the way north to Boise City Ok.
Thanks for all the help I will never know for sure what this was.

2009-Jun-21, 12:20 AM
OK If you held a basketball outstretched in your hands and looked at it then looked up thay would look to be the same size. ie a marble and a large star.

That still doesn't make sense to me. If I held a basketball in my outstretched hands and looked at it, I would see an object that would be absolutely huge in the sky. Much bigger than a marble, or especially a star which appears as a single point.

The basketball would cover, what, more than 10 degrees of the sky? I suspect it would completely cover the cup of the Big Dipper, for example.

I'm guessing that the object you saw was not 10 degrees in diameter (the full moon, for example, is one half of one degree in diameter).

As to the fireworks, yes, I can hear them from that far away. They televise the show in the City, and I can time the finale (which is the loudest part of the show) from when I see it on TV to when I hear it outside my house. There are no hills or anything between me and the City.

2009-Jun-21, 01:26 AM
This really does sound like a bolide (a fireball) to me. The only fireball I hav ever seen was an orange colour, and that sounds consistent with this sighting. The silence and delayed sonic boom are also consistent- such a fireball would be about forty miles high, and probably more than that in diagonal distance to the observer - so any sound would take several minutes to arrive. The illusion that it was only as high as a normal firework is a common one.

However, unless anyone else saw it we can't be certain- it seems to have been very late at night, so maybe no-one was looking.

Jeff Root
2009-Jun-21, 01:50 AM
With a diameter of 9.5 inches, I estimate that a basketball would cover
an arc of 20 degrees. That's 40 times the diameter of the full moon.
If it was a firework like those in professional shows, it would have had
to be only a few hundred feet away. Probably less than the length of
a city block. I can scarcely imagine something an individual could buy
would be that big, or that something homemade that was that big
would work rather than simply blowing the maker to smithereens.

While that doesn't sound right at all, 2:24 AM is not all that unusual for
some of the fireworks I hear individuals setting off at this time of year.
And it isn't unusual to hear just one set off.

A missile launch makes no sense unless there is a military base in that
area. There don't appear to be any.

Many years ago while on the highway past the nuclear facility at Hanover,
Washington late at night, there was a deep red glow way down the access
road into the facility, and traffic wa being directed away from the place.
I never found out what was going on. The red light looked very odd but
it wasn't a ball or up in the air. It seemed too red and too constant to be
a fire.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis