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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Jun > Jun 5

Re: Strange Cloud Near Moon - Shough

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2007 13:33:52 +0100
Fwd Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2007 09:12:39 -0400
Subject: Re: Strange Cloud Near Moon - Shough

>From: Geoff Richardson <geoff.nul>
>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2007 17:25:56 +0100
>Subject: Strange Cloud Near Moon

>Recently The WHY? Files received two photos which were taken by
>an astronomer in Canada.

>A number of astronomers have examined the photos but cannot come
>up with an explanation for the strange cloud-like object which
>appears near the Moon.

>Perhaps it was just a trail left by an aircraft, at the time of
>taking the photo another person apparently observed a red cloud
>near the Moon



This post combines responses I already made on another List:

For what it's worth, this doesn't look like any kind of a/c
trail or cloud to me. In fact it looks more like either a)
reflections in window glass, possibly of a curtain or similar,
illuminated by subdued interior light and showing some blurring
due to movement during the 1-second exposure, b) lens flares
from orangeish light sources out of shot, or c) accidental
double exposure (it doesn't say if they are digital or photo
emulsions images)  Both photos show some milky glare that could
be light scattered by window glass, especially the left hand

Without knowing the circumstances it's difficult to say. If the
photographer swears blind that they were taken in a wide open
place with no windows, no possibility of double exposure, no
camera flash, no other possible nearby lights, and no other
objects or reflections in the shot, then they're unidentified

Do you know who "the astronomer" is, or the other person who
"apparently" saw a red cloud? Where did the person see it from
and how was it described? How long between the shots? Were any
others made? Was there anything on them? Did the photographer
notice anything at all when (s)he made the photos?

Eric Rush on the ufologyinuk list suggested that the photos
looked similar to aurora borealis, and there are similarities.
It's worth looking at. But first note that there are some
problems with this report.

The nameless "an astronomer" gives his location as:

DEC.   +45*  42' 30"
LAT.    73*  56' 15"

mixing celestial and terrestrial coordinates, neither of which
makes any sense. Declination has no place alongside latitude,
and in any case the declination of the moon at the time is less
than 6 degs, not 45. And the latitude of Mirabel is nowhere near
73 degs 56' either. In fact the DEC seems to be terrestrial
latitude, and the LAT is actually longitude!

OK, some mix up. But if this is an aurora, who would be best
qualified to know what he was looking at and least likely to send
it to a UFO website? An astronomer, I would have thought. And
wouldn't at least one of the "number of astronomers" who are
supposed to have been unable to explain the photos have
recognised it as an aurora?

Maybe the astronomers are not genuine, but the photos are? I've
seen many auroral displays, not from Canada it's true, but from
the extreme north of Scotland, which is actually about 13 degs
(~1000 miles) north of Mirabel, Quebec. In fact Mirabel is on
about the same latitude as Bordeaux or Milan, and not especially
well-placed for aurorae. (The auroral zone on average is centred
at about 67 degs magnetic. Mirabel gets slightly more benefit of
the ~ 7 deg magnetic deviation from the geographic pole than
does Scotland, but this is not worth worrying about). But I've
never seen auroral streamers looking like this. I'm very
suspicious of the sharp-edged lines, the coloration also looks
unnatural, and both the colour and the brightness are very
unlikely IMO for a 1-second exposure of any aurora.

And this was not high in a clear, dark, north sky at midnight
where faint displays would be fevaoured, but _very_ low on the W
horizon just after sunset (the time given, 1944 local, is
exactly astronomical dusk so the last direct sky illumation by
the sun is just vanishing), and any haze, mist or cloud might
still scatter some light along the horizon, in addition to the
light of the crescent moon right in the middle of the view.
According to my planetarium programme, tthe moon should have
been just about exactly _on_ the horizon at Mirabel at the time
stated for the first photo, and at least twice its own diameter
below it by the time of the second photo. OK, given some play in
the times and coordinates we can fudge this a little; but
plainly if these are auroral streamers, in which case they are
obviously above the horizon, then the moon shown, which is at
higher elevation than the very bright "streamers",  has to be
_much_ higher - at least several degrees above the horizon. So
for me a few small anomalies start to add up at this point.

If this was an extremely brilliant auroral display at unusually
low latitude, a) the "astronomer" would have seen it himself at
the time (evidence that he did not see it is the fact that he
was not photographing the "aurora" but the moon, which is
centred in the frames whilst the "aurora" bleeds off at the
edges), b) surely one or more of the "number of [mystified]
astronomers" would either have seen it or would have known about
it, and/or c) there would be some record on the web of extreme
auroral activity noticed all over the world down to low
latitudes on March 20. I don't find any reference to such. Maybe
Gary knows of something, but I only find references such as:


Blog post, March 20, Iceland: "After we ate a lobster dinner in
the seaside village of Stokkseyri, we began hunting the aurora
borealis... We found one patch of clear sky, and, while the
stars looked amazing, the northern lights eluded us. We have two
more nights of searching, though, and everyone remains hopeful.
I'll let you know how it turns out."

The Chicago area GN TV channel's Weather Centre blog shows photos
of the same crescent moon at a similar time on the evening of the
same date (March 20) showing no sign of auroral lights, or any
other anomalies. Earlier posts archived on the same page record
widespread auroral activity seen in December 2006. But there's no
mention of anything in March 2007:


Some very beautfiul aurora photography done 4 days after the
photos in question, by Dennis Anderson from 60 degs North at
Deep Creek, Alaska (well worth looking at for its own sake) is
accompanied by a lament about the long absence of good auroral
shows during the solar minimum :

"Finally, things were beginning to click into place once
again... On the early morning of March 24, 2007 the aurora came
strong like a healthy newborn screaming its lungs out upon the
sight of its new world.Or maybe that was just me screaming in
excitement over the sight of an incredibly active aurora. For a
while I had begun to think that the aurora was broken. Tonight
proved it wasn't."

Nothing notable on March 20, then. BTW his photos, showing
nothing remotely as bright and sharp-edged, required in excess
of 10 times the exposure claimed in the dubious photos (up to 3
minutes in some cases) and he is only able to drive down
exposures below 10 seconds by using a 98mm f/1.4 "light bucket".

To sum up, I doubt very much these are auroral phenomena, but at
the same time I even doubt the provenance of the photos unless
the astronomers concerned publicly identify themselves or other
evidence is forthcoming. In any case the relevance to UFO
studies seems tenuous, except as an exercise in analysis.

Martin Shough

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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