How good are we at estimating the distance and altitude of UFOs?

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posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 11:25 AM
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Originally posted by Kandinsky
It's perhaps ironic that, if this was a UFO report, a determined UFO 'debunker' would use the differences in timings to dismiss the 13+ witnesses as unreliable and possibly hoaxers of poor character. As this isn't a UFO incident (in the conventional sense), we are able to take the position that the witnesses did see a flaming meteor and reported the details accurately...despite the differences in time.
I don't think it shows poor character to report what you think you saw.

What may show poor character is for someone to read this thread, and then claim that their witness statement is infallible and they are sure the distance was this or that. Personally I don't consider varying witness reports to be evidence of any kind of hoax and I'm kind of surprised you'd bring up something like "possibly hoaxers of poor character". That thought rarely crosses my mind on multiple witness sightings. However the "unreliable" part is spot on and the point is, we are ALL unreliable witnesses, if the object is unknown.

If the object is known, like a known aircraft, then some witnesses are more reliable than others in estimating distance, and this is in fact a skill which can be improved through training. But when the object is unknown, there really is no skill or experience that takes any of us out of the category of being unreliable witnesses.




posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 11:41 AM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 



Personally I don't consider varying witness reports to be evidence of any kind of hoax and I'm kind of surprised you'd bring up something like "possibly hoaxers of poor character". That thought rarely crosses my mind on multiple witness sightings. However the "unreliable" part is spot on and the point is, we are ALL unreliable witnesses, if the object is unknown.


I was making a broad swipe at the practice of some UFO 'debunkers' to attack witness credibility. My apologies if this wasn't as clearly stated as it should have been.


In some cases, an error by the UFO witness is taken as evidence that their entire account is thus fundamentally flawed and, by extension, 'debunked.' This then follows that if *some* witnesses are unreliable, the shadow of doubt hovers above the remainder.

I used the meteor sightings as an example whereby, if it was a UFO-case, one could exclaim how they couldn't even agree on the times so how much should we trust the rest?!

Of course, I agree that witnesses are unreliable and fall within a spectrum of unreliability according to their backgrounds and the circumstances of the alleged sighting.



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 11:52 AM
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People really don't realize that our eyes lie. Actually, our eyes do a pretty good job. It's what our brains do with what our eyes provide that causes the problem. A personal anecdote:
www.abovetopsecret.com...
edit on 12/10/2011 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 12:43 PM
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Besides radar, a person can determine speed, distance and altitude of an aerial object by triangulation; using three theodolites located in three different positions at the same time. Mark the time, horizontal and zenith angles of the unknown aerial object for each of the theodolites.

If the lighted or unlighted object, appears below the cloud cover, a rough altitude of the aerial object can be determined by checking the height of the cloud cover with radar readings.

If the lighted object can be seen thru the low lying cloud cover, but yet it appears to be above it-- A rough estimate of altitude can be determined.

If the lighted aerial object appears very large to the witness-- While the unknown is still above the low lying cloud cover, but appears to be going the at a tremendous rate of speed at a blink of an eye; more faster than any known craft here on Earth. Speed cannot be determined, but still the unknown was traveling at speed that is unknown for any aerial craft known to man here on Earth.

If the unknown lighted aerial object sports no fiery tail, was descending to Earth at a very slow speed, that lit up the mountain valley in front of the witness; would prove to most people that the object was not a meteorite, but was made of intelligent design.

Foofighter's

Erno86
edit on 10-12-2011 by Erno86 because: added a sentence
edit on 10-12-2011 by Erno86 because: spelling



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 12:46 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 

This is consistent with the moon illusion link in part 3 of the OP. It demonstrates optical illusions which are clearly brain failures, and not eye failures.

Neil Tyson says optical illusions should be called "brain failures" around 5 minutes into the following video, and he also cites those as a reason why it's hard to trust what we thought we saw regarding UFOs, and I'd say it's extremely relevant to the topic of this thread:

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson on UFOs

I think it's a pretty interesting look at all the ways we can be wrong about UFO sightings and misinterpret what our eyes and brains tell us.


Originally posted by Erno86
Besides radar, a person can determine speed, distance and altitude of an aerial object by triangulation; using three theodolites located in three different positions at the same time.
How can "a person" use "three theodolites located in three different positions at the same time"? And isn't the number of people who would have such a setup outside the military pretty close to zero?

But if the theodolites required people to track the object, and you had three people to man the three theodolites, and you could be sure you were tracking the same object with all three theodolites, then yes that's a pretty good illustration of what it would take to determine distance and altitude that our eyes can't establish.
edit on 10-12-2011 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 12:56 PM
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and multiple witnesses?

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...




posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 01:00 PM
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reply to post by mcrom901
 

What does that have to do with the inability to judge size and distance of an unrecognized object in the sky?



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 01:01 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


I do not carry a very high respect for Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson--- He comes off too me, as some CIA spook UFO debunker.


Cheers,

Erno86



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 01:02 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 


coincidental brain malfunction....
edit on 10/12/11 by mcrom901 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 01:03 PM
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Originally posted by Cosmic911

I still struggle with estimating cloud layer elevation, let alone UFOs, and I've been flying helicopters for 10 years!


Well its a good thing they have instruments in those helicopters so you don't have to estimate how far the ground is when landing



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 01:09 PM
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Originally posted by mcrom901
reply to post by Phage
 


coincidental brain malfunction....


Not "coincidental" selective


If I say I saw a UFO people say your imagining it...

If I say I saw OJ shoot his wife... I become a key witness in a murder trial.

Funny how that selective testimony works eh?



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 01:17 PM
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reply to post by zorgon
 


If I say I saw OJ shoot his wife... I become a key witness in a murder trial.

And subject to charges of perjury.
Nichole was not shot. You're a lousy witness.

edit on 12/10/2011 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 01:22 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


You would probably need a three man survey crew, to run three theodolites, but one man can gather all the data return, and cipher the location and speed of the unknown aerial object.

I'm a survey instrument operator here in Maryland. Right now, I'm running a robotic electronic distance meter theodolite, the more expensive ones have video cameras. It's in the realm of possibility-- That if a person had enough coin in his wallet, he could invest in a three robotic theodolites with a very strong infrared beam that bounces off the unknown using the speed of light calculation, temperture, barometric pressure in our atmosphere; with just a one man survey crew.
edit on 10-12-2011 by Erno86 because: spelling
edit on 10-12-2011 by Erno86 because: deleted a word



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 01:24 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by zorgon
 


If I say I saw OJ shoot his wife... I become a key witness in a murder trial.

And subject to charges of perjury.
Nichole was not shot. You're a lousy witness.


but why project her cause of death?


edit on 10/12/11 by mcrom901 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 01:41 PM
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Captain Edward J. Rupplet, tried the same experiment with three cinetheodolites, back in 1951, at White Sands New Mexico; by trying to locate the speed and altidude of fiery balled Foofighter's. The experiment was a failure, but Rupplet recanted later that one cinetheodolite gathered data on a fiery-balled orb. The video evidence must have been shoved under the covers.

Source: The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, by Captain Edward J. Rupplet, {may his soul rest in peace}



posted on Dec, 10 2011 @ 02:36 PM
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Its really hard to eye ball it. I watch many planes, coming from all directions, and going the other way, at different altitudes, on different days, sunny/clear, cloudy, etc. And note how their lights appear, they have 3, white, red and green/blue, that can change in appearance a bit, and what that looks like coming or going. And their sound, when it becomes noticeable.

So far I have rough heights, jet height, plane height, (high, medium, low, and then there is extremely low).

My sightings, the vast majority, fall into low plane height. Some very low, ie. I eyeballed an evergreen tree out back, not the biggest, those were more like 70 feet or higher, but this one was around 50, and one of the crafts that soundlessly flew over was about the height over the roof. That one was not typical for the regular crafts we saw. There was some event across the road late at night making noise, music. I was going in and suddenly heard this shout, I'm going to greet you right up close. I thought someone was coming around the bushes. But this oddly shaped pyramid type, like a slanted offset pyramid of whitish yelllow light, flew several townhouses down, at about 50 feet. For over 20 minutes I was connected to the pilot. Due to this being perfect lighting near the city glow and its height, it was seen what was under the light, though the tail couldn't be made out. But the whole body was like a cylindar, a wingless plane, like a cigar shaped plane, and the tall wedge of light was formed because it was nose up and tail down, soundlessly. My son was18 at the time and witnessed it with me.
edit on 10-12-2011 by Unity_99 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 11 2011 @ 09:44 PM
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Firstly, thanks to everyone for your replies and comments. I've starred all the posts that made good points.

Secondly, there were a few more points that I would have liked to make, but since I've posted, other posters have made many of the points for me. So just to try and fill in a few gaps, I'd like to add that:

If we have an unknown light/object in the sky that is moving, because we don't know what the object is, or how far away it is, we can't tell how fast it's moving. Yes, we can estimate the angular velocity, but without having an idea what kind of object we are dealing with, we cant estimate the distance.

If the object passes in front of or behind cloud, that may give clues as to the true distance, but it could also be misleading, since with the right type/thickness of cloud, a bright light above/behind the cloud can sometimes seem to be in front of the cloud.

As lifeform11 pointed out, with a familiar object (eg. hot air balloon, aircraft) we can usually make good educated guesses as to distance/altitude/size/speed, but, that is only as long as a correct identification is made, and for 99% of the time I think people do identify objects correctly. The problem is, the 1% that don't.

In all fairness, I don't think we can expect everybody to be able to identify everything they see.

intrptr... interesting sighting, but without more detail I wouldn't like to comment, except to say, we might not be able to identify everything we see, but that does not mean everything we can't explain has to be something to do with aliens, although it might be the case.

As you say, there is no way to tell how large or fast the objects/lights are in the footage you posted. I don't think we can even say for sure that anything exited the atmosphere, or for that matter if the footage has been messed with in some way. It certainly is interesting if it is real footage, but without any background info on the footage, and/or witness reports, I'm not sure what purpose posting the footage here serves.

Kandinsky... You make some very good points.

I don't think anyone can be 100% free of bias, but a good investigator would be aware of this and try to be as impartial as possible.

Taking my case as an example, since I concentrate on meteors, some might expect that I would have a tendency to classify anything I see that appears to me to have meteor like characteristics, as a meteor.

Well, if it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, and flies like a duck...

Of course there is always the possibility that whoever "they" are, they are disguising themselves as "ducks", but if that's the case. why? It doesn't make much sense.

Of course even experts can be wrong, and make mistakes. It is true, that "we see what we want to see", but a properly trained observer would be aware of this, and all their other limitations.

I certainly don't think our limitations should be used to dismiss every account, but in the cases where there is fair possibility that our limitations have come into play, without independent evidence from another source that corroborates the witness testimony, there should certainly be question marks over the accuracy of the testimony.

BagBing... good point about our perception of brightness/size, and one which I meant to make in my OP, but never got around to.

mcrom901... if you are saying people are assuming that the simplest explanation must be true. I'm not sure that's the case. I would say that it's true that the most likely explanation which fits the facts is usually chosen in a thorough investigation.

eagleeye2... yes, that is the question, or rater, "Is it really close, or is it really big or bright"

TheMindWar... That is true, but they were trained to spot familliar objects, and I'm sure they would have been good at that. The problems arise when an unknown object is observed, or a known object is misidentified.


Apologies to all those who I have not replied to directly, but it's getting late (again), and I will try to reply at some point later when I get the chance. Thanks again to everyone for their contributions to this thread.



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 10:58 PM
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Just to get back to and take a couple more of the points that were made...

I think Arbitrageur summed it up brilliantly when he said this:


Originally posted by Arbitrageur
Personally I don't consider varying witness reports to be evidence of any kind of hoax and I'm kind of surprised you'd bring up something like "possibly hoaxers of poor character". That thought rarely crosses my mind on multiple witness sightings. However the "unreliable" part is spot on and the point is, we are ALL unreliable witnesses, if the object is unknown.

If the object is known, like a known aircraft, then some witnesses are more reliable than others in estimating distance, and this is in fact a skill which can be improved through training. But when the object is unknown, there really is no skill or experience that takes any of us out of the category of being unreliable witnesses.


There is no way around these obstacles.

However, if there are many independent witnesses spread out over a wide geographical area, it may be possible to piece together an approximate trajectory of the object after the event with some careful investigation, as is the practice with modern day meteorite hunting.

Erno86... you are definitely on the right track with your idea for triangulating the unknown object. It's not a new idea though. There are networks of cameras all over the world right now designed to catch phenomena such as meteors.

Multi-station networks with cameras separated by a few tens of km can automatically capture and even work out the orbit of an object without anyone having to lift a finger once they are up and running. The rather aptly named "UFO-capture" software used as standard today has some quite neat features.

Many multi-station meteors and fireballs have been captured over the years, but so far no UFO's. The numbers of networks is growing year by year, so who knows...

Unfortunately, in most cases we only have the witnesses word for what they saw, and triangulation is not possible, although, as I said above, in a few years time there will probably be lots more area covered by cameras.

NASA is one organization that is expanding it's network currently. A few months back they were asking people for suggestions/permission to position their cameras at suitable sites.



posted on Dec, 14 2011 @ 04:54 PM
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reply to post by C.H.U.D.
 


That Meteor Hunter, looks like a good blog site. But may I suggest too the Meteor Hunter--- To point some of his cameras towards 360 degree horizon angles; in order to possibly photo-capture a fiery-balled Foofighter; from another planet.

A typical Foofighter, will tend to fly low in our atmosphere, {less than 10,000 feet,} in order to escape fighter jets, by quickly diving below radar cover in mountain valleys, and using submerging crash dives in lakes and seas.

Thanks,

Erno86



posted on Dec, 15 2011 @ 02:00 PM
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reply to post by C.H.U.D.
 


As a cop for 30 years it is nearly impossible to judge distance, speed, and size without a known reference. It takes traffic cops a long time (months or years) to learn to estimate the speed of both oncoming and outgoing traffic, and they know the size!
Eyewitness testimony is useless in this matter. Interview 10 witnesses and you will have ten versions of the event.

Now, put something up in the sky where there are no references. Don't bother showing me a video that is tracking an object: without a known size reference (horizon?) it looks like the object is just hovering. If the camera operator zooms out you cannot generally see the object due to the poor resolution of most cameras. Most of the videos and pixs that I have seen have no way of telling distance, size or altitude.

The comment about plane spotters in WW II is spot on. My father was one of these in the Pacific. I still have his silhouette cards of different planes. Similar Allied planes would do a flyby and radio him as to their speed, direction, and distance. The stars on the side of the Marine and Army Air Corps planes were about the same size as the Rising Sun flags and this is what Dad used to judge distance as well as how fast they covered the distance between 2 trees approximately 100 yds apart. Even then he admitted to occasional errors that resulted a squadron being scrambled to intercept an Allied plane.

Unless someone has a silhouette card set showing relative sizes of objects (and I would love to get one!) the best we have are guesstimates. For the most part, eyewitnesses are truthful and well-meaning, but eyewitness testimony is based on perceptions and not necessarily facts. As humans, we want to know the whole story so our minds fill in the blanks for us.

Putting the sighting in the context of history, past testimonies, and triangulating the interviews to find the commonalities between eyewitness versions allows us to come to a better understanding of what was seen. If I talk with two people who report seeing an object, with one of the witnesses saying it was off to the south and the other witness saying it was overhead I can use a map to determine distance but altitude and speed require knowing how big the object is. The triangular craft being seen are a good example. I have had witnesses tell me the craft was 200, 500, or a 1,000 yards across and even a mile in length. I cannot do very much with it because radar so infrequently sees these objects (or at least will deny it).

Being careful about what was actually seen will lend more credibility than anything else.

I keep remembering a line from Indiana Jones: "Archaeology is the search for facts, not truths. If you are searching for truth I suggest the Philosophy class down the hall."

This is a great discussion! Thanks





 
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