Thursday, November 03, 2005

Accounts Vary About Humbolt UFO

UFO Over Humbolt
Fire in the sky

By John Driscoll
The Times-Standard

     Widely varying accounts of a strange bright light seen in the sky Sunday night tend to complicate -- rather than narrow down -- just what it was.

     People in Redding, Medford, Ore., and in the dark, high country on State Route 36 near the junction of State Route 3 saw, well, it depends on who you talk to. Some described a colorful fireball shooting across the sky, while others saw a bright flash of white light. Others reported a green streak tearing across the heavens.

     An initial and still solid theory that the sightings were of a large piece of space junk falling from orbit still holds as well as any. However, the U.S. Air Force 1st Space Control Squadron -- which tracks all orbiting man-made space debris larger than a softball -- said it knew of nothing over the area at the time, around 7:30 p.m.

     College of the Redwoods astronomy professor Jon Pedicino on Monday said the multi-colored fireball indicated that the object was made of exotic alloys. That would be fine, except not everyone saw the same colors, which can act like a signature of the object’s composition.

     Humboldt State University astronomy professor David Kornreich forged his first theory based on reports that the fireball had greenish hues. That would indicate a high copper content, he said, possible in a naturally occurring meteor, or bolide -- the scientific term for a fireball meteor.

     ”As civilians we’re probably doomed to speculation,” Kornreich said.

     Most large meteors originate from the asteroid belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter, Kornreich wrote in a follow-up e-mail. The blue-green color could have been copper content, or ionization of oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, like what lights up a lightning bolt. If the tail was green it’s more likely to be copper in the asteroid itself. If the tail was red or orange it’s more likely to be ionization of the oxygen in the atmosphere, he wrote.

     Harbor Commissioner Ronnie Pellegrini and her husband, Paul, were driving west on the highest part of State Route 36 on that clear night. Looking north, she saw a fireball shoot low across the sky going west. It had a tail like a comet, she said, but it was blue and orange.

     ”It just disappeared again as fast as it came,” Pellegrini said.

     Ashland, Ore., resident Larry Laitner and his wife, Karen Salley, were driving in separate cars in Medford, Ore., at the time of the event. Laitner said he saw a large, bright flash of whitish light -- like lightning -- despite the fact he was in an extremely well-lit part of town.

     Salley was ahead of Laitner in a darker area of U.S. Highway 5, and watched as the whole south-southeastern sky lit up.

     ”It was pretty massive,” Salley said.

     Perhaps the strangest account comes from Eureka resident Kevin Truby, who was at a body shop in Eureka Sunday night when he saw a white-yellow light go upwards into the northwest sky, then drop back down. He said it looked like fireworks.

     ”That’s what kind of threw me,” Truby said.

     The Times-Standard has fielded enough accounts, at least, to determine that the fireball seems to have appeared most directly over the western Trinity Alps.

     But beyond that, it remains a fleeting mystery, however disappointing that may be.

More . . .

See also:

UFO Seen Over Humboldt County


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