Did I see a UFO? In the truest sense, what I initially observed fit the criteria. This past Wednesday night, I was out in my backyard doing a little star gazing. My wife was busying packing for a next day trip to China which is part of her Executive MBA program with the University of California at Irvine. Not wanting to get in the way of this carefully orchestrated packing ritual, I retreated outside...a ploy that has served me well for the past 31 years of marriage.
I had taken to the backyard with a pair of binoculars and my three dachshunds, I opted not to haul out the telescope for this night. The night sky was clear and I was casually looking at the fading summertime constellations. I was mostly interested in viewing Ursa Major, particularly the double star, Mizar, and it's optical double, Alcor. Both stellar objects appear as one star to the naked eye, but are easily distinguished as doubles with binoculars. Arcturus was low in the western part of the sky, but readily noticeable.
So it was that I began to casually scan the southern direction of the sky. I had been observing for no more than thirty minutes when a brief flash of light entered into my binocular's field of view. I could make out a fast moving object traveling approximately from the north in a southerly direction. Then I completely lost track of the object.
The following is information based on recall (this is now Friday morning two days later):
Date and Time: 28 August 2013 approximately 2030.
Duration of siting: Approximately 5 seconds.
Conditions: Night was clear with no cloud cover. No moon was visible. Temperature was approximately in the low 80s F. Slight wind breeze.
Brief Description of the Observation: At approximately 8:30 pm, I was casually observing the night sky with a pair of binoculars. I was observing generally in a southerly direction approximately 50 degrees above the horizon I caught a glimpse of a flash of light and the brief outlines of an object moving at a high rate of speed. After about 5 seconds (or less) I lost track of the object. It appeared to be moving from generally a north to south direction. Immediately afterwards, I observed three objects in the northern portion of the sky moving in formation with flashing red and green lights. All three objects made a noise similar to that of a helicopter or propeller driven aircraft. These three objects were moving in an apparent west to east direction and were visible and audible for approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
If we look at my description of the brief events, my observations are vague and open to interpretation. I'm positive of the date of occurrence, but "iffy" on the exact time as it could have easily been more closer to 2100, yet I'm not quiet sure. I may be in the general ball park, but what is that ball park? The same can be held as true for the immediate timing of the follow-on three objects observed in the northern sky.
What of the conditions? It's true that the sky was clear with no hint of clouds, and the moon was nowhere to be seen, but what of the temperature? It was simply an estimation on my part. Rather than being in the 80sF, it could have easily been in the mid 70sF. Is the temperature relevant in this case? Probably not.
If we look at my description of observation, I'm somewhat vague in that area. I use the terms "approximately", "generally", and "apparent" in my narrative. Though I'm quite certain of what I saw for a brief few seconds, I'm not quiet sure of the other details that I mention above.
Did I see the object for 5 seconds? Even that is debatable as I could have only been visibly exposed for 2 to 3 seconds, by now judging from looking at my wrist watch sweep hand. Simply, 5 seconds of visual exposure to the object is now totally in doubt. The observation of the three flying objects in the northern sky is probably more of an accurate time of exposure since these objects were moving at slower speed based on my point of observation.
What had I observed? Since the object gave the appearance of emitting a brief flash of light and remained at a constant rate of speed I can probably rule out military or commercial aircraft. It's entirely possible that I observed a satellite in a low orbit, but equally probable was that I had observed a meteor. The other three objects were definitely military aircraft, either helicopters or Osprey's flying in formation at a much slower rate of speed as my "UFO" plus the audible noise of Mil-spec engines differentiates from commercial craft. The flashing red and green strobe lights are further tells.
My classification of the object in the southern sky did fit the definition of a UFO...I was unable to initially identify the object. Subsequent logical explanations were thought of and my above logical candidates were chosen as the likely culprit. The other three objects north of my location were immediately identified as military aircraft flying in formation probably originating from Marimar Marine Corps Air Station (20 southwest of my location) heading east towards either China Lake or Yuma, AZ. Again the sound of the Mil-spec engines and flashing strobe lights were a give-away. But, what type of aircraft remains undetermined as I could not make out the aircraft features.
This was a good personal experiment (not originally the intention) showing the lack of detail that we normally see in UFO reports from casual observers. Most important, it showed that I'm not immune to observational discrepancies. I've now made it a point to bring out a note book during my night sky viewing times so that I might be able to provide more accurate detail should I come across "odd" observations.