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My three personal "UFO" sightings

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posted on Feb, 22 2014 @ 09:33 PM

I don't think tricks of the eye can explain all reports over eons.

I agree 100% that optical illusions don't explain all UFO reports, and have stated that on at least one or two occasions in this thread before now. However (and I think most here will agree), it may explain certain cases, so is it not worth investigating the possibility that it may play a part in other cases?

I wasn't searching for anything the night I saw mine. I wasn't thinking of UFO's.

As I'm sure is the case with most peoples first UFO (including mine - on both occasions).

It was a familiar drive - isolated and very dark. The "star" looking thing was so bright it simply caught my attention as it was too low to be a star, and was just impossible to not see for the direction I was heading. Even then I didn't think UFO.

How exactly were you able to tell what altitude the object was at?

Was the object seen in a clear sky?

Did the object pass in front of a fixed terrestrial feature?

If you don't know what an object is (ie a UFO), or what size/or what intrinsic brightness the objects has (A), or roughly how far away it was (if your answer to my last question was "no", then how could you?) (B), and the answer to my second to last question is "yes", then how can you tell the difference between an object that is within our atmosphere, and an object that is outside the atmosphere and possibly many light years away?

If you know the value of A or of B, then you can use that information to work out the altitude, right?

If you know the value of A or of B, or the altitude, then you have no information at all to go on in the case of "point-source lights"(or star-like lights)... except for brightness, but that's not much use since:

1. An extremely bright light a long way off but "next to" a much much dimmer light that is very close to an observer (just the right distance), could easily appear to be exactly the same brightness, right?

2. Hypothetically - If you were to look up into an extremely dark/black sky, and all you saw was an extremely faint and tiny light all on it's own, what would be your first impression/guess of how far away that light was? A long way, right?

3. Hypothetically (again) - If you were to look up into an extremely dark/black sky, and all you saw was an extremely bright and huge light all on it's own, what would be your first impression/guess of how far away that light was? A lot closer than the light in #2, right?

#2 and #3 are naturally "hard-wired" in our brains, because in most situations these "rules" hold true and are useful to us in our every-day lives, however, because we all naturally expect these rules to hold true, it can be a bit of a shock to the system when/if they don't!

If you read up on illusions, you will see that it is in situations where there is little meaningful information (a nondescript point light source, in a dark sky near to/or devoid of any features AKA "visual cues", that could be any distance/size/brightness), or there is conflicting information (it looks like a satellite, but satellites can't be this big, bright, and seemingly close!?), that the brain effectively say's "it's had enough", gives up, and we get an illusion. Or it tries to fill in the gaps where info is missing using "hardwired" rules, even though in some situations this might be of less value than leaving the gaps empty. Don't believe that at times the brain "fills in gaps" with information that does not exist? see the "disappearing ball" illusion in my previous post.

Here's a bit more of an extreme example - false memories:

Human memory is created and highly suggestible, and a wide variety of innocuous, embarrassing and frightening memories can be falsely created through the use of different techniques, including guided imagery, hypnosis and suggestion by others. Though not all individuals who are exposed to these techniques will develop memories, experiments suggest a significant number of people will, and will actively defend the existence of the events, even if told they were false and deliberately implanted.

Now, go back to #1, and consider a case where you have a surprisingly bright point-source light which happens to be a long way off...

In fact, I believe my mind was still processing it when it took off at lightning speed, making maneuvers that could in no way happen at that speed with anything I've ever heard of (and would not - due to the mountains).

Ok, so we have a fairly (surprisingly even perhaps?) bright and eye catching light in the sky. That suggests it was close, right?

Now, given my points above, what if that light suddenly dimmed till it was tiny/faint, and then disappeared? Tiny/faint suggests it got further away, right?

So we have a bright (close) light that fades (far off, into the distance), which just happens to precisely match the description of a satellite flare, which sometimes can be surprisingly bright. It also matches the description of a slow moving meteor, although exactly how much better (or worse) than the flare hypothesis is difficult to say unless you can give more details of the timings.

Ranging up to -8 magnitude (rarely to a brilliant -9.5), some of the flares are so bright that they can be seen in the daytime; but they are most impressive at night. This flashing has caused some annoyance to astronomers, as the flares occasionally disturb observations and can damage sensitive equipment.[citation needed]

When not flaring, the satellites are often visible crossing the night sky at a typical magnitude of 6, similar to a dim star.

So they can go from being about as bright as a half moon, to being almost as dim as the dimmest stars you can see with the naked eye under a near-pristine dark sky, that is "effectively invisible" unless you had got out of your vehicle, turned off your head lights, and sat in the dark for at least 10 or 20 minutes to allow your eyes to adapt to the low light.

I'm guessing you've never observed a very bright confirmed Iridium satellite flare, or knew that they could be so bright?

Here's a fairly bright -8.2 magnitude flare from Iridium 34 which I photographed last year. The image is a composite of a few short (around 10 or 12 seconds) exposures, hence the gaps in the trail which are due to the camera being in between exposures:

There are simply some things we cannot explain - that cannot be debunked without a repeat exposure to show the person that what they saw was natural or manmade.

That may be true in some cases, but just because an obvious explanation can not be found at a particular time does not mean that someone might not come along with an explanation at some point in the future. In some cases an explanation may not be possible simply because there is not enough info to come to a definitive conclusion either way, but that does not necessarily mean the only other explanation is aliens.

For example, in your case, if you had recorded the date, the time, the location (to within a km or two), and what part of the sky you saw the light, it would be possible to work out with software or even using if there might have been a flare that matches.

If people took a moment to record every possible detail (positions in the sky relative to stars, cloud cover, wind direction, precise timings/location, etc), then I think many more cases might be solved. I realize people might be too shaken at the time to remember to do these things in many cases, but it should be the first priority for those who already have a little experience. Better yet get some photos of the area of sky (with a bit of horizon if possible) - even just afterwards can be useful.

Please don't take me the wrong way here, I'm not trying to fault you in any way, I'm just suggesting what I think would be the best way to do things, when/if possible in an ideal world.

Sorry for the quite lengthy reply, but it's the only way I can get across concepts like these. There is no easy/simple answer, and a little bit of extra reading might still be needed, and/or performing your own experiments (like trying to photograph the same phenomena if you see it again with reasonable quality gear).

The beauty of facts/experimenting for yourself is that you can prove to yourself that they are true - you don't have to take my word for it.

The irony is, that if half the passion and effort that goes into defending the "aliens are probably here" position here on ATS went in to actually trying the "experiments" I suggest, it could go a long way to explaining some reports... and leaving the field a little more clear to concentrate on the most inexplicable of cases.

Some related links (in addition tho those posted in my first post in this thread):

Almost all your decisions are made by your unconscious mind
What is an Illusion?

posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 01:25 AM
reply to post by FireballStorm

A very interesting post that appears to come under the guise of "intelligent" thought... An interesting array of moving pictures of intended illusions that share no comparison to the actual sightings of the individuals posted here - if you are trying to be scientific, then you should make a point by point case of how you think all the movements of the observed objects can be catagorised as illusions.

Do these types of illusions even begin to address extreme speed changes and extreme direction changes? Not at all, and I find it perplexing that you made such a large post as if to appear to be debunking peoples sightings with such a shallow interpretation of these events. If all you are doing is debunking the obvious sightings that are not spectacular or defy logic, then your efforts are wasted and it appears more like you are using this argument to debunk sightings which you haven't even begun to analyse in any meaningful way.

What is your agenda here? Throwing such statements like "oh it has to be aliens!", may I also ridicule your intellect by claiming you have an inferior mindset that claims "oh it can't be aliens!"? Would you like to put forth your hypothesis on why you believe it could not be aliens?

In your last post - you make the observation that it's very hard for us to tell distance via a light source - very true - but I also believe we can have some insight into the nature of objects based on how they behave (even whilst we cannot accurately describe them with words, based on our life-times worth of observing objects at various heights, we have some idea as to how to classify some things we see). If you want to be scientific please take specific cases and analyse them so we can see your thought processes on how you yourself would classify these things rather then thinking you are debunking anything with shallow arguments about our inability to adequately measure the things we see - There is not that much variation to the possibilities with most of these cases - and you can extrapolate different scenarios and usually one will come back more realistic then any other.

Now i'll share my sightings briefly.

1) On a mountain range with friend - friend sees object above us moving from our right. I get it into view and see a very intense orange orb traveling across the sky (no clouds in sight). It traverses the sky until it is nearly above us, and then instantly bounds upwards/away from us and accelerates to a speed beyond our comprehension - disappearing into the background of space within a second.

2) Stanley Fulham predicted sightings all over the world. I ignored it. However, on that day, my friend walked over to my house. When he arrived he excitedly called my name, to come outside. I came out and went up to the road. We observed 7 orange orbs in formation traveling across the sky. They rose until they went above the clouds and out of sight. Very similar to the first orange orb I saw on the mountain.

3) Observing small points of light in the sky moving around in different directions, at one point, the light we were observing disappears, and 2 similar lights appear either side and are moving in the opposite direction

4) I was outside star-gazing with binoculars. There was a single cloud in the sky. I caught sight of a point of light moving in a linear fashion, it went behind the cloud, re-emerged, I then saw another light tailing it. After emerging from the cloud they traveled for only a few seconds and then I put my binoculars on them, they both stopped dead in the sky. They then slowly started moving closer together and then became still and indistinguishable from the stars.

These are just a few of the more prominent things I've witnessed that I have trouble understanding.

Disclaimer: a)Before the first event, I had never considered ufos/aliens or been interested in it. b) I don't entertain beliefs. I entertain possibilities. I don't "believe" in aliens. However, countless simulations and mounting evidence makes it very hard to deny it as a very likely possibility.

edit on 23-2-2014 by WorShip because: (no reason given)

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posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 03:15 PM
reply to post by WorShip

hey worship,

nice reply to firestorm by the way,it was well put. i do not know how some people must think that when we report the things we say that they come on and treat us like idiots after we have stated as you did,soul44,myself and a couple of others that these things we saw moved at impossible speeds making impossible maneuvers. i say "impossible" as we know the laws of physics to be.

i watched my "ufo" for over 20 mins.i even stopped looking at it,closed my eyes took out another cigarette then looked back up and started watching it again.

your sightings sound like you know what you saw also! the one sighting you had where the orb shot up into the sky sounds good.
i saw something like you described recently,mabey 4 months ago. although i can not be sure what i saw this time as it was out the corner of my eye,through a window and seemed very far away as i didnt notice an object before it shot up in the air.


posted on Feb, 24 2014 @ 12:26 PM
reply to post by waltwillis

Well I may have been a little curt (and even sarcastic), and I apologize for that, but your post/list contained a lot of "blanket statements", which you admit were at least partly aimed at me. Considering the nature of those statements, your post came off as more than a little hypocritical. No one likes to be labeled (which is what you effectively did) without saying why, and therefore giving me little chance to defend myself. Perhaps I should have rolled over and "taken it", but are you really *that surprised* that what you got was an "attack"?

Sorry, but if you are willing to "label" those who you freely admit you "don't know", then I have no wish to discuss anything with you any more. Have a nice day.

posted on Feb, 24 2014 @ 06:55 PM
reply to post by WorShip

From what I understand, you are basically arguing that - these illusions I have been posting are artificially induced, so bear no resemblance/have no implications for what we see "in the wild". Is that correct?

In that case, I can assure you, (with all due respect), that you are wrong.

It's true that the images/examples I posted are designed to exploit flaws in our visual-brain system, BUT that does not mean that we only see illusions when we look at these kinds of "artificial images". These images exploit pre-existing flaws that we all have - the flaws do not go away when we stop looking at artificial illusions. Artificial illusions are designed to show us that these flaws exist. Did you look at the illusions I posted with your own eyes/brain? It's the same eyes/brain that you use for other stuff, right?

Illusions are part of every-day life, and involved in virtually every aspect of seeing, weather we are aware of it or (as in many cases)not - good examples are the moon illusion and even TV:

7. Daily life illusions

You are also facing visual illusions in your daily life:

TV as it is a) TV ----- All the colours you see on TV are just due to 3 colours (red, green and blue). If you look close enough, you can only see many closely packed dots of 3 colours. Because they are so close, the retinal images overlap and different colours result.

b) The bent spoon in your cup of water and the apparently shallow swimming pool ----- are due to refraction i.e. light travelling with different speeds in different media.

c) Clothes with vertical stripes make a person look thinner than clothes with horizontal stripes.

d) The moon racing through the clouds ----- we tend to view large objects (the large clouds) as stationary and the smaller object (the moon) as the one moving.

e) A red car looks larger than a green car of the same model when viewed from far above, because of different speeds of light.

visual illusions

Everything we see is processed by our brains, and our brain's own "slant" edited SEAMLESSLY into it before we see it. Even from the word "go" we are seeing an illusion - We see though our eyes, each of which is a basically a lens right? But if you look through a single lens (try this if you have a lens to hand), you get an upside-down image. Do you perceive the world as being upside-down? No - your brain processes the data from your eyes and turns it the right way up!


- A lot of information reaches the eye, but much is lost by the time it reaches the brain (Gregory estimates about 90% is lost).

- Therefore, the brain has to guess what a person sees based on past experiences. We actively construct our perception of reality.

- Richard Gregory proposed that perception involves a lot of hypothesis testing to make sense of the information presented to the sense organs.

- Our perceptions of the world are hypotheses based on past experiences and stored information.

- Sensory receptors receive information from the environment, which is then combined with previously stored information about the world which we have built up as a result of experience.

- The formation of incorrect hypotheses will lead to errors of perception (e.g. visual illusions like the Necker cube).

Visual Perception Theory

Our brains are wired to make things up. To make sense of the physical world around us, the brain takes bits of information received from the senses and, like an artist painting a landscape, creates a unique mental picture shaped by its experiences. Without this ability to process sensory information we wouldn’t be able to see in three dimensions, understand someone speaking in a noisy room, or even watch a film at the cinema. But there is a caveat: the brain can sometimes make mistakes, and optical illusions are one example.

Seeing is Believing?

It's also true that certain illusions only occur under certain circumstances, but these certain circumstances also happen to be present in the types of situations that UFOs are often observed (eg in the dark/low lighting/few visual cues). Those same conditions are also present in aviation, and if you train to become a commercial pilot you will have to learn about the relevant optical illusions:

Autokinetic illusion

The autokinetic illusion occurs at night or in conditions with poor visual cues. This illusion gives the pilot the impression that a stationary object is moving in front of the airplane's path; it is caused by staring at a fixed single point of light (ground light or a star) in a totally dark and featureless background. The reason why this visual illusion occurs is because of very small movements of the eyes. In conditions with poor visual cues accompanied by a single source of light, these eye movements are interpreted by the brain as movement of the object being viewed. This illusion can cause a misperception that such a light is on a collision course with the aircraft.

Planet or stars in the night sky can often cause the illusion to occur. Often these bright stars or planets have been mistaken for landing lights of oncoming aircraft, satellites, or even UFO’s. An example of a star that commonly causes this illusion is Sirius, which is the brightest star in the northern hemisphere and in winter appears over the entire continental United States at one to three fists widths above the horizon. At dusk, the planet Venus can cause this illusion to occur and many pilots have mistaken it as lights coming from other aircraft


So yes, illusions are "very real", and can have significant implications, even for our own safety:

On Jan. 14 of last year, an Air Canada pilot flying from Toronto to Zurich, Switzerland, woke up from a nap to see an alarming sight out the cockpit window: what appeared to be a flying object (presumably another plane) flying directly at him. The first officer alerted the pilot, who correctly identified the light and told him not to worry about it, but the first officer almost immediately saw a second set of lights and took evasive action, sending the jet into a steep, sudden dive that injured 16 people and almost resulted in a midair collision with another aircraft flying 1,000 feet lower.

It was a terrifying, bizarre event over the Atlantic Ocean, but what makes it even stranger is that, according to a new report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the initial light that first officer saw was an optical illusion. He thought it was a UFO — quite literally, an unidentified object flying at the plane. Yet there was no aircraft, identified or otherwise: he had instead seen reflected sunlight from the planet Venus. (The second set of lights—the ones that caused the evasive action—were actually from another aircraft the pilot mistakenly believed was on a collision course with the Air Canada flight.)

Depending on when you measure it (since everything in the universe is in constant motion), Venus is between about 25 million and 162 million miles away. Yet the pilot thought that it was close enough to pose an imminent threat of collision. How could the pilot's estimate of the light's distance to the plane be off by at least 25 million miles? How could an experienced airline pilot mistake a planet for a plane?

It's actually not that difficult to understand and has implications for other UFO sightings.

As this incident shows, accurately judging the size, speed and distance of unknown lights in the night sky is virtually impossible.

A light in the sky might be small and 100 yards away, medium-sized and a few miles away, or even planet-sized and tens of millions of miles away — and there is no way to know the difference. John Nance, a former commercial pilot and ABC News aviation analyst, said that such a mistake, while seemingly inexplicable to the average person, was "not outlandish … a bright light, which can be a planet like Venus, can be very startling, and you can mistake it for an airplane."

Airplane, UFO or Venus?

More about "motion" illusions:

For the past 200 years, researchers have debated whether the illusion of motion in a static image is caused by mechanisms in the eye, in the brain, or by a combination of both. Because measuring these kinds of physiological responses is difficult, no study has successfully measured direct and tightly timed correlations between a kinetic illusion and a physiological precursor.

But recently, a team of researchers from the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, and the University of Vigo in Vigo, Spain, has found a direct correlation between illusory motion and microsaccades, which are tiny eye movements that involuntarily occur several times per second during visual fixation. Although the team hasn’t determined the neural mechanism behind the correlation, the finding rules out the hypothesis that the origin of the kinetic optical illusion is purely cortical.

“These results revealed a direct link between the eye motions and the perception of illusory motion, and ruled out the hypothesis that the Enigma illusion originates solely in the brain,” Susana Martinez-Conde, Director of the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience at the Barrow Neurological Institute, told “Our study provides a possible explanation for an entire family of visual illusions central to the fields of visual art and visual science. It would be quite unexpected if Enigma turned out to be the only motion illusion affected by eye movements.”

Optical illusions: caused by eye or brain?

reply to post by FireballStorm

Do these types of illusions even begin to address extreme speed changes and extreme direction changes? Not at all

You have missed the point here - it's not "speed changes" it's "the illusion of speed changes", and likewise with direction changes, which I addressed above.

So you agree that a dim light looks far, bright looks close, and there is no way to tell if something is "dim/close" or "bright/far" in the case of a point-light source seen in a dark/featureless sky?

Does it not follow that a light in the sky that goes from bright to dim quickly might also appear to be going from near to far quickly, AKA "shooting off into the distance at incredible speed"?

With no other visual cues other than brightness to go on, how would you tell the difference between something going in seconds from bright to dim (whilst remaining relatively stationary), and something going in seconds from near to far?

I'm not saying that an illusion like this will occur in every case where a satellite flare is observed, or that this particular type of illusion explains every UFO case, but I think I have demonstrated that illusions can and do play a part in at least some UFO cases. It also turns out that we are not all equally susceptible to illusions: The size of your brain's visual cortex determines whether optical illusions fool you

reply to post by FireballStorm

Would you like to put forth your hypothesis on why you believe it could not be aliens?

Would "because the description matches that of a satellite flare (or even meteor)" do?

reply to post by FireballStorm

In your last post - you make the observation that it's very hard for us to tell distance via a light source - very true - but I also believe we can have some insight into the nature of objects based on how they behave (even whilst we cannot accurately describe them with words, based on our life-times worth of observing objects at various heights, we have some idea as to how to classify some things we see). If you want to be scientific please take specific cases and analyse them so we can see your thought processes on how you yourself would classify these things rather then thinking you are debunking anything with shallow arguments about our inability to adequately measure the things we see

In reply to the bolded (my doing) part of your post - Isn't that what I have been doing? I know my posts are a bit long and perhaps complex for some, but in order to understand why illusions are relevant to UFOs, a person also has to understand how we perceive the world around us, and the flaws that come with it.

If "debunking" is trying to exhaust all possible causes, then perhaps I'm guilty of that.

If "debunking" is sharing with others that I have had my own practical experience of photographing and proving to my self that an apparently zig-zagging satellite does actually move in a straight line, and letting others know that they can do this for themselves too - they don't have to take my word for it, then I'm definitely guilty!

If "debunking" is trying to look at UFOs from a "new" angle (it's not really new, it's just conveniently overlooked most of the time), and inform people of the implications it might have for this field, then I'm guilty for sure. There was me, under the impression that we should always keep an open mind, and "think out of the box"! After all, UFOlogy is coming on leaps an strides with the current/stale way of looking at things.

If you still do not believe there is something to it, at least take the time to read a few links on the subject, before you dismiss it. It's not just me saying this, there is plenty of good info and cases out there if you look. Again please realize that I do not expect you to take my word for it - the facts speak for themselves, and can be verified with a bit of research. I'll even provide you with a few more links to get you started:

Astronomical causes of UFOs
Report of the ISS "zig-zagging"
Processing the Image or Can you Believe what you see?(PDF)
Rebuttal to a Bad Book Review
Visual Illusions - FAA PDF
Now you see it, now you don't: what optical illusions tell us about our brains
What's the relationship between optical illusions and the idea of reality?
Optical illusion
Illusions Links
UFO’s and Other Optical Illusions
Penetrating the Visual Illusion (PDF)
Constructing the Visual Image
The Neuroscience of Illusion

Beau Lotto: Optical illusions show how we see

edit on 24-2-2014 by FireballStorm because: Ran out of room

posted on Feb, 24 2014 @ 08:34 PM
reply to post by FireballStorm

Again, I'm not even going to bother reading all that information as you still haven't addressed any specific cases where you can say how the objects seen behaving in extreme ways can be likened to the illusions you speak of. Until you actually start talking about the anecdotal evidence and analysing it in a meaningful way, I'm not interested in discussing anything with you. I am well aware of human error in interpretation, but if you think that means you can dismiss everything that has been said here then you're only deluding yourself. All you are doing is arguing around the subject as if it adequately describes the majority of sightings here without even addressing any specific/extreme cases. You will find that what you are actually implying borders more on hallucination, that we're all just seeing things in our head. We are not just talking about objects that move in a linear fashion that appear to "zig-zag" in a minor way. Not at all. Mundane sightings like that should be dismissed. The majority of sightings that are note-worthy are not mundane linear moving zig-zaggers. Seems you're trying hard to ignore that. You say "it matches the description of a satellite/meteor".. Are you serious? Maybe you didn't read anything anyone has said in this thread and just came here to dribble on about how it's all illusion.

Maybe you think posting a whole array of stuff makes your post seem more intelligent. Less is more in some cases. Since you actually ignored what I asked you to do I believe you probably are unable to bring yourself to do what I asked since you know that you cannot "win the argument" that way. Hence you reiterate how the mind is playing tricks on us.. Guys, lets just dismiss all this cause of FireBallStorms terribly unscientific way of dealing with this information.
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