Some reports of a UFO flyby speak of a fairyfloss-like substance that appear to have been discharged by the unknown object. Much like Kenneth Arnold’s misidentification of a squadron of Jack Northrop’s flying wings, it is highly likely that most of these observers have witnessed state of the art military technology. The ‘Angel Hair’ would therefore be nothing more than Chaff Countermeasures. Originally used by the German Luftwaffe spreading a cloud of small aluminium and metallised glass fibre, rendering radar interception techniques useless. Chaff dispensing in modern warfare appear to be of a more degradable material.
It is estimated that millions of tonnes of space debris enters our atmosphere on a daily basis.
It is true that many people are unfamiliar with the mechanics of our night sky and thus lends it self to common misinterpretations. A simple entry of a walnut size rock can create an extraordinary lightshow, as well as unnecessary suspicions. Depending on the angle of entry and composition, velocity as well as colour display can vary.
On rare occasions, satellites that reach the end of their orbital decay enter our atmosphere in a spectacular fiery display. A comparison would be like watching a number of flares discharging in the upper atmosphere.
International Space Station
The ISS is one of the brightest objects in the night sky (reaching magnitudes between –2.00 and –2.50). It can appear star like, in steady motion with similar characteristics to an approaching airliner but without navigational lights and sound.
In some cases the ISS will disappear into the horizon or simply fade away (passing into the shadow of the Earth).
Satellites also have similar visual features to the observer but with far less luminosity.
Iridium flares from iridium satellites can easily attract attention, especially in an area with minimal sky glow from a major city. The flare appears as a sudden flash in the night sky, reaching magnitudes as high as – 8.00.
Satellites and the ISS can be tracked from a number of websites including:
Unusual satellite behaviour
On rare occasions satellites may appear to fluctuate while moving on their orbital path. This optical effect is due to unsettled atmospheric conditions. A comparison is watching an approaching motor vehicle from a distance through heat haze.
Commonly known as scintillation or Autokinetic Effect. This optical effect of a moving star occurs when the observer focuses on a stationary point of light in a dark environment.
Meteorologically known as Altocumulus Lenticularis appear at an altitude of 6000 meters (troposphere). Lenticular clouds are formed from strong wind flow over mountainous regions creating elliptical cloud formations, which resemble the classical flying saucer or a fleet of.
One of the most common misidentifications in photography appears to be that of local fauna. The photographer is usually unaware of any rapid moving wild life at the time the photo is taken. In most cases, the photographer becomes aware of these anomalies when the image is enhanced on a PC. It appears as 'fuzzy' and elongated and depending on the distance sometimes appearing with an upper dome like feature. The effect is generally caused by insufficient shutter speed of the camera and the relative distance producing little or no other characteristics other than a dark blur.
The general oval feature accompanied by an array of vibrant lights can certainly create suspicions, especially in a darkened sky. Blimps take off from smaller domestic airports like Camden and Bankstown in the Sydney metropolitan area.
Flare & digital aberrations
Lens flare is not a common form of misidentification in photography but has occurred on occasions. Hard light (sunlight, street lights etc) reflects on the camera lens elements before reaching the digital camera sensor creating anomalous shapes. The shape or shapes in the image depends on the type of the lens diaphragm. Another digital anomaly is digital burning. This mostly appears in sunset shots as a hard distinguished hemispherical or elliptical white shape. Digital cameras have a tendency to abruptly overload the white without any graduation, unlike film cameras. This 'digital burning' commonly occurs with basic models.
Parhelia appear as a second or third sun in the sky but is more defined as a solar halo. The Sundog phenomenon develops among Cirriform clouds (commonly in winter) when sunlight refracts as it penetrates through ice crystals.
Some reports have associated these grass circles with physical evidence of a Close Encounter of the Second Kind. Appearance can range from a single circle to clusters of dried grass in circular patterns. However a closer examination offers a more prosaic explanation. Commonly known as 'fairy Rings', these circles are a result of turf fungus and mostly appear during prolonged rainy periods. Fine webbing can form among the affected areas accompanied by tiny mite-like insects.
View images below