Posts Tagged ‘Milky Way’

Unidentified Flashing Object

Monday, April 18th, ©2011 Marcus Brooks

A friend on Facebook mentioned this Louis Farrakhan video, and that started me searching old email for a link to a really great fake UFO video that another friend made. I didn’t find that, but I found the following. I figure, since other people reuse my stuff, why can’t I?

Fake UFO Hovering Over Cows with legend I Want To Believe

Old fake UFO poster. I enlarged the 'UFO,' but it is genuine—lens flare shaped by my camera's iris.

From: Marcus Brooks
To: [several friends]
Subject: Unidentified Flashing Object…
Date: Sun, Aug 8, 1999, 11:12 PM

Shea and I just spent a couple of nights ‘way out in the countryside, about 20 miles (as the map wiggles) past Fredericksburg. Shea thought that, after nearly ten years together (more than six married), we ought to go on a vacation for once.

Anyhow, I thought I’d tell y’all about a mysterious object I saw while lying out on a hilltop, in the dark, staring up into a sky so cluttered with stars it took my citified eyes two nights to recognize Pegasus. (And even then I had it upside down in my head.)

Within a minute of getting my binoculars focused on the Milky Way, I caught a bright flash near the edge of my view field. Point source. I don’t know—maybe 8 or 10 magnitude. Very brief, like one flash of an old police car’s cherry, only white.

That was weird, I thought, and while I was trying to figure it out it flashed again. I got the binocs settled and waited. Again it flashed—I finally had it pretty well located near a cluster of small stars.

Flash. Funny… before I thought it was closer to that other star over there.

Flash. Was it so bright the last time? Now it’s right in the cluster.

Flash. It’s moving—but so slow! Its path so far is a fraction of my 7X50 binoc’s field. I count to the next flash…

No, was that a flash? So dim! Wait… there it is again! Try counting again…

Flash. Ok, about 20 seconds that time—more like the earlier cycles.

Flash. I couldn’t tell before, but I guess it’s moving in a straight line.


This went on for maybe four or five minutes; flashes sometimes dimmer, sometimes brighter, then fading out. All this time I was thinking: A nova? Ridiculous! Novas flash over days, not milliseconds, and never three times a minute. No pulsar I ever heard of is that slow. And variables don’t flash, they just… vary. A satellite? No, I thought, it was ‘way past sunset, and anyway satellites travel from horizon to horizon in a few minutes—or not at all.

A UFO? Surely not a UFO; I can accept the possibility that there might be alien life, but I won’t accept personal responsibility for the first astronomical sighting; not with binoculars; not lying on a hilltop in West Texas with ants chewing on my butt!

So. What flashes like a beacon with a loose mirror, shows up a few hours after sunset, travels slowly, maybe half a degree per hour, in a smooth westish-to-eastish line, and eventually fades out?

Space junk!

I’m sure of it. What I saw was a spent upper stage or a retired (or failed) satellite tumbling out of control in a just-under-geosynchronous orbit—high enough to still be in sunlight long after sunset. I’m guessing it had to be pretty big to show up in 7X50’s. It was pure luck I looked in the right place at the time when it’s tumble happened to reflect the sun in my direction for a few rotations. Mystery solved!

Content with my conclusion, I got up, brushed the ants off my trousers, and went back to my log cabin and bed. But I laid awake for some time, reflecting on the irony that Technological Garbage was able to touch me even in this remote land of dark nights, nettles, and tree-climbing goats.

Shea, by the way, prefers the UFO theory. G’nite,

“It’s not ambition; there really is a fire in my belly.”
— Recovering Workaholic