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Ripley, Ipswich, Queensland 7:50 pm 20NOV2011
My name is John and I live in Ripley, Ipswich, Queensland. I just happened to be looking towards the South West when I saw a slow moving Metorite heading North East. As it passed though the trees I had an awesome view of it and would of been at around 2-4,000ft above the ground.
It had a blue and green glow to it and because it was so close to me you could see the could see red and orange sparks in the tail. When glow went away you could still see red and orange sparks come from it. To cage how close it was to me I live about 12klms (approx) from Amberly Airforce Base which is West North West of my poistion and it looked as if it flew over the top of it and out the point of burn out, it still sparked Red and Orange at what looked like 1,500ft. Awesome sight to see. regards, John Stewart Thank you John!
Canungra, Queensland, Australia Meteor 7:35 pm 20NOV2011
We saw a huge meteor in the sky tonight at 7.35pm. We had just left Canungra (a town inland from the Gold Coast) and saw it in the sky towards the west - it was travelling north. It was VERY large and close - it continued for about 5-10 seconds. At first we thought it was a plane on fire but it burnt up in the sky so must have been a meteor. It was a bright white light with 2 seperate white heads merging into a single tail which was more orange. Cheers - Donna Thank you Donna!
Redcliffe, Qld, Australia ~8:00 pm 20NOV2011
We saw a large bright white round shape with a tail move north low in the western sky. We watched for 2 - 3 seconds. Approx 8pm on 20 Nov 2011 from Redcliffe, Qld, Australia
Explanations of illusions must be taken with appropriate skepticism. Many are of the nature of "plausible hypotheses." Most are not (as yet) such that they can be independently verified in terms of physical processes in the brain. Also, we know that our visual perceptions arise because our brain synthesizes multiple cues. Our brain weighs these cues; some dominate in certain conditions, while others are "weaker" and are ignored. But the weightings shift in strength according to the nature of the stimuli. Many classic visual illusions arise from conflicting sensory cues of nearly equal "strength".
When we judge the size of an object near the horizon our perception is influenced by familiar terrestrial objects in the field of view (trees, houses, roads). We know from everyday experience that many of the recognizable things we see in the distance are quite far away. But when our gaze is upwards, we have no reference cues for distance, and judge things near the zenith to be closer than those on the horizon.
Perceptions are influenced by our past experience. One model of visual perception postulates that when we perceive a new and unfamiliar phenomenon our brain interprets it by comparing it to a mental map or model of our memory of previous sensory experiences. Of course, this represents just one of the cues that the brain must sort out, weighing it against other cues. Conflict between sensory cues is the basis of many common visual illusions.
This is the same as saying, "What is our judgment of actual size of two things at different perceived distances, even though they have the same angular size?" The answer is that the one assumed nearer is judged to be smaller. This conclusion is consistent with the mental judgment that the horizon moon is farther from us.
This process supposedly operates even (especially) in the absence of any other visual cues. But the process is confused when we have our heads in an unusual position. This may be the result of our knowledge of the orientation of our head, from visual cues, and perhaps from information from the balance-sensing mechanisms of our inner ear. When there are competing sensory cues, our judgment of angular size can be altered by them, which may account for the confusing results of experiments designed to show that visual cues are the sole reason for the moon effect.
The hard-wired hypothesis supposes that natural selection has shaped those brain mechanisms that process and interpret sensory data, devoting more resources to those things that are important to survival. This results in brain resources being biased toward things seen in front of us, fewer resources to things overhead. Similar imbalance of perception details are present in animals.
How does this impression square with the situation in real (physical) space? The physical distance to the most distant object one can see on the horizon depends on the elevation of the observer's eye above the water. One can derive the formula for it, in terms of the earth's radius. For an eye elevation of six feet, the things we see on the horizon are actually about 3 miles away. Alto-cumulous clouds are about 2 to 3.5 miles overhead. So, physically, the distances are nearly the same, yet the overhead clouds seem much closer to most people than those near the horizon. This calculation may not seem quite fair, for we can see clouds that are physically well beyond the surface horizon, perhaps 10 miles away, due to their height above the earth surface. But can any reader and observer honestly claim that the clouds at the horizon seem farther away than the horizon? I've never found anyone who would make that claim.
We have a strong impression that the cloud cover "joins" the horizon. Can this simply be that there's absolutely no visual cue to suggest that they are at different distances? Our brain may be making the simplest reconciliation of the situation.
The moon illusion is consistent with what would be expected from evolutionary considerations. We have evolved cognitive processes that provide high quality visual information from nearby things, and things on our level that we can walk to and experience from various angles. These are all important to survival. Things seen high above, in the sky, or even those seen below, as when looking over the edge of a cliff, are less important. Therefore distance discrimination and detailed judgment of other visual properties of overhead objects is compromised.
In these discussions we must distinguish three levels of sensory processing that play a role in the final judgment.
1. The sensation itself. In this case, the diameter of the image on the retina, stimulating light receptors there. All researchers agree that the moon illusion does not occur on this level.
2. The unconscious judgment of some "physical" property, such as brightness, angular size, color. This may be influenced by past experience, or by quirks of innate cognitive functioning, but is done without us consciously "thinking about the matter" or deliberately "analyzing" something.
3. The reasoned consideration of the sensation, by questioning and by conscious analysis. Example: "Those two bars seem connected, but that can't be so, for it violates some laws of math or physics." On this level, judgments may be expected to be quite different for untrained and trained observers, and also different for those unschooled in math and physics compared to those who are. The moon illusion literature is largely silent on these possible differences of interpretation.
Observers schooled in physics and math, physicists, astronomers, and amateur sky-gazers, have learned somewhat different conscious models. When asked "Which moon is nearer?" they may respond "That's an unfair question; it's still the same moon, and in both cases the distance and size are too great to make a distance judgment." If a follow-up question is asked, "Which one seems nearer?" the answer is often "Well, you can't trust your eyes in such matters." Many scientists have learned (by their mistakes) not to trust their eyes in certain kinds of informal observations. As Helmholtz said, "I would never believe anything solely on the evidence of my eyes." Unlike Helmholtz, most physical scientists do not inquire into the reasons behind visual deceptions, they simply try to stick to observations and instruments that can be shown to produce reliable and observer-independent results.
All real-sky effects are beyond the range where our stereoscopic vision (due to eye convergence) works (up to about 50 to 100 feet), so our eyes can't triangulate objects in the sky.
Night Sight Skills
The ability to judge distances and heights at night is difficult at night. The absence of haze or its presence can cause illusions at night. Lights will vary in intensity and cause illusion effects. A misidentified light source can cause total confusion. A single light gives no altitude information. Multiple lights may be in different geometric visual planes. Freeways become visible while country roads disappear. Aircraft and lighted towers become visible for miles. Airports have beacons. The most common illusion is a narrow runway that appears to be longer than it is. the narrow runway may make you think that you are too high. Have a set procedure; allow an extra wide downwind at night. Know the length of your destination runway. Required FAR knowledge on all flights! All illusions are made worse at night.
Lights that appear dim, as seen through haze, will be reported as more distant than they are.
The dearth of visual cues is what makes night flying different and more dangerous.
I'm not saying that this explains all UFO sightings, but from the evidence I have seen (some of which I have presented in this thread), and from what I have read over the years on this forum, it seems that in many cases people who have seen something relatively mundane will not recognize or be able to identify what they saw in many cases, because their brain is literally feeding them false information.
Is it really that hard to accept that we as humans have certain limitations when it comes to observing/witnessing certain events, and that large numbers of people misidentify relatively common phenomena on a regular basis?
Originally posted by zorgon
especially of the glowing shape shifting critters
Originally posted by Kandinsky
Of course, this would also add an element of observer bias in your own brain as it sought to pin the *meteor* label on moving objects that didn't have FAA lights. The same, broad effect is what we see when so many people pin the *UFO as spacecraft* tag on fast-moving lights. Their knowledge of aviation and meteorology is less than their knowledge of UFOs and You Tube and the brain spits out the answer >>> UFO as spaceship.
At 400 feet altitude, the UFO (which weighs about a pound) looks like a mammoth spacecraft miles away, dancing, diving, hovering, now flitting away.
Investigating the Kecksburg UFO really opened my eyes to the variation in distance reports of a meteor by people across multiple states; the estimates were all over the place, like the example you showed in your op.