NYC Fox station reports Jupiter and balloons as UFOs

By Phil Plait | October 15, 2010 12:01 pm

ufos_zappingI know a lot of the media do their best when it comes to reporting science and astronomical-related stories, but sometimes they seem to go way out of their way — or, more accurately, not go out of their way at all — to report nonsense.

Case in point: Fox News in New York City. Yesterday, there were UFO reports from all over the city. Not to keep you in suspense, but those UFOs were actually hundreds of balloons released on Broadway to celebrate a visit by Madrid officials. You can see more about this by my friend Ben Radford and at Science-Based Parenting.

Note that balloons explain everything: the UFOs were in clusters, they moved randomly, they were seen as dots, nothing was reported on radar, they floated for hours, they slowly disappeared, the timing was right. As far as explanations go, we’re done here. [I’ll note that there were some reports of UFO earlier in the day, but those look just like balloons as well, probably from a different event.]

Now, I can forgive the Fox reporter for not knowing about the balloons; cases like this do happen. However, watch the video of the reporter: she clearly didn’t do any investigation at all of this other than to talk to a few people in the street (if the YouTube video gets taken down, you can watch it on the Fox page, but at lower res):

NYC_UFO_jupiterPay attention around 35 seconds in. That star she spends a lot of time talking about is the planet Jupiter. Don’t believe me? To the right is a diagram I created using planetarium software showing Jupiter and its four big moons around the time the reporter’s talking about. Hmmmm. The blue flashing lights, broken up appearance, and tail she talks about are all clearly those four moons and Jupiter itself.

Again, I don’t expect a reporter to know what that might be, but come on. She sees something in the sky she couldn’t explain, and couldn’t talk to a single astronomer before going on the air? I hear Neil Tyson lives in New York City. Say.

Reports like this, which don’t do any actual investigating, damage both people’s perception of reality (reinforcing nonsense) and the ability of the news to cover actual, real events. And all it would’ve taken to fix this whole thing was a single phone call to an astronomer. The story would’ve still been fun and playful, but it also would’ve been accurate and had real science in it. Shouldn’t that be the goal of all such stories?

Tip o’ the probe to Colin Thornton for the balloon stories, and Dr. Marco Langbroek for the tip about the Fox story, and Jupiter.


Related posts:

It’s a UFO, by jove
Why astronomers don’t report UFOs
Erie UFO sounds familiar to me
Awesomely bizarre light show freaks out Norway


MORE ABOUT: balloons, Fox News, Jupiter, UFO

Comments (156)

  1. That’s just disappointing. I know someone who is an avid believer of everything. If science claims it doesn’t exist, but some guy does? Oh you can bet it must exist! The scientists are either covering it up, too close-minded to see reality for what it is, or are actually undercover aliens themselves.

    This. Does. Not. Help.

  2. Mark

    C’mon Phil, I know you like to do some hatin’ on FOX, but they’re not the only media that gets it wrong:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/ufo-faa-unable-identify-objects-flying-nyc/story?id=11880227

    http://www.wpix.com/news/wpix-ufo-sighting,0,5453103.story

    Note in the WPIX story how much space is given to “skeptics” vs “believers.”

  3. NewEnglandBob

    It’s Fox. They have a low standard.

  4. Michael S. Pierce

    I, for one, welcome our new balloon overlords. Perhaps they will show greater insight than our media.

  5. Another Eric S

    To be fair, this was being reported as a human interest story. The balloons were really only visible from one corner (and that place the reporter is standing in front of is known for it’s extra strength margaritas). Reporters from all the local stations were down there hoping to find a UFO wacko or two and turned up short. But I agree wholeheartedly that the story would have been more interesting if they’d taken the time for a little explanation on the one ‘UFO’ that didn’t blow away. Maybe the polar bears at the Central Park Zoo did something interesting and they had to leave in a hurry.

  6. If there actually is intelligent life watching us, I have a feeling they have this conversation a lot:

    “Is it time to let the humans know they aren’t alone.”

    “Are you kidding?!? Those idiots are still confused on mass by floating bags of helium, better give them another thousand years or so.”

    ~Rhaco

  7. she clearly didn’t do any investigation at all

    You just summed up old media! :o

  8. Marc

    The problem is that if she did make that call and then report that these were just balloons, it would be a government cover up. You can’t win with these people.

  9. larry

    teabaggers all over new york immediately accuse obama of being pro-alien.

    more after these commercials

  10. fanboy2many

    C’mon, reporting something as an unidentified flying object isn’t so bad. They didn’t know what it was and they made some fun speculations. I agree that it would’ve been more interesting if they’d actually solved the case, but I think that it was just a fluff piece and just some fun to be had. Anyway, anyone believing that they were looking at space craft wouldn’t have been convinced by the facts. Last, I think the goal of the piece is to increase ratings, not to educate. Sadly, education rarely raises ratings.

  11. One Eyed Jack

    It’s Faux News.

    What, you were expecting actual journalism?

  12. Brian

    My jaw about dropped when she put up the image of Jupiter and talked about it like it was a UFO. It was so instantly recognizable. I mean, yeah, by now I expect a TV news reporter to play up a UFO sighting and carefully avoid talking to anyone who can actually identify the thing. But I didn’t expect that.

  13. speaker2a

    The Fox website covered this as well. They had fun with the story but pointed out that these were balloons from a school class that had released them to celebrate their teacher’s engagement. As others pointed out, this wasn’t a news story it was a fluff piece and covered by many other stations besides Fox. So all of you that are so critical of Fox, please fire up your critical thinking skills and try not to bash them for bashing sake.

  14. Shouldn’t that be the goal of all such stories?

    The goal of local “news” coverage is to generate ad revenue. Local news programs get fairly low bucks for their ad slots. If they can generate some hoopla, they can increase their rates.

    Reporting, much less explaining, real news rarely enters into the equation.

  15. Youaresheep
  16. Joel

    @9 speaker2a: Being from the UK, I quite frankly don’t really care one way or the other about Fox, but there’s still no reason why they couldn’t have mentioned the balloon explanation on the actual tv slot too, though. And the Jupiter thing is really unforgivable.

  17. Rey

    Hey were the ufo’s on web cam that night also balloons and Jupiter? How about the one in SF?

    Ps: Balloons don’t stay i’n one place for a whole day. Oh wait the wind was only blowing to get it there but died the whole day/night leaving the balloons there for hours? If the sighting didn’t last as long as it did I Wouk buy balloons. Where are the balloons now? They been recovered so we can see?

    Nah

  18. Old Rockin' Dave

    Back when I lived and worked in Brooklyn, I had an office that had a beautiful view out over South Brooklyn and Bay Ridge. One afternoon as I looked out, I saw a strange “object”. It seemed to swirl and dance and as it turned it seemed to change color from light to dark and back again. It was too persistent to be smoke, too large to be a kite or sheet of plastic, too vague to be any really solid object. It took me at least five minutes of watching to realize that I was looking at a flock of pigeons, and the color change was because city pigeons are darker on top. Once I knew, I never made that mistake again, but it was a good lesson in how easily common objects can fool you.

  19. Is there really never anyone there who has Google Sky Map (or something similar) on their phone? Just point your phone at the object and go “yup, that’s Jupiter”.

  20. NAW

    Wow, that was a beauty. But can you really zoom a news camera in to get that nice of an image of Jupiter in the middle of New York city? If so cool.

    All this shows is the need of basic interest in sky watching (our kind of sky watching that is). It is a little sad to see “UFO seekers” missing 99% of a great sky because they think that one light is a UFO.

  21. Katie

    It gets worse…the article I clicked on to read about the “UFOs” from Google News yesterday (can’t recall the source now) actually spent most of the article talking about some loon who’d predicted that aliens would visit on October 13, 2010 as a prelude to something…now I can’t exactly remember the nonsense, but it was something about global warming. Sigh.

  22. Dan

    I also thought that the Fox video looked like Jupiter.

    This hypothesis is easily verifiable. However your post in no way proves that the observed phenomena was a combination of balloons and Jupiter. Therefore I respectfully respond with some reasonable steps someone could take to actually prove the point that you falsely claim to have demonstrated. You know, the sort of things a science journalist should be expected to do.

    First, you need to compare the location of Jupiter that night to the time and location of the video. Shouldn’t be too hard.

    Second, you need to establish that the Fox News video camera has a powerful enough zoom to see the moons of Jupiter in Chelsea. I am actually a bit skeptical of this because of light pollution, but I have no real idea how powerful their zoom is.

    Finally, any account has to also deal with the other objects that we seen after dark (ie, the earth cam footage) and the photos that have found their way to flickr. There is also the footage of the pyramid shaped object from the 13th, but that footage looks a bit hokey to me. Still, a thorough scientific analysis would not simply ignore it.

    I am not claiming that there isn’t a conventional explanation for this event. Rather I hope that I have shown that you have not proved your assertions.

  23. enchantscoot

    There are NO reports of balloons and Jupiter was not actually visible in the NYC night sky according to the National Weather Service. ALSO, the daylight sightings would not be Jupiter either? I suggest some calming tea and maybe read Richard Dolan’s UFO & the National Security State 1973-1992.
    ‘We have never been alone.’ -Major Robert Dean

  24. AliCali

    @20 NAW: “But can you really zoom a news camera in to get that nice of an image of Jupiter in the middle of New York city?”

    Yes, a TV camera can show Jupiter very well, since it has a nice zoom and keeps steady. The city lights don’t bother the planets nearly as much as other nighttime objects. You only need 8x zoom or so to see the moons. Most binoculars will do, if you can hold the darn things steady.

    I remember watching an outdoor sporting event on TV (I think it was the Winter Olympics), and coming out of commercial, there was this beautiful shot of Saturn. You could clearly see its rings and color bands. Then, the camera zoomed out to show just the dot and then the bright landscape that’s normally shown. That was wonderful. Since then, I fantasized about being a baseball announcer, and every day, I’d have the TV camera use a powerful zoom to show a planet, open cluster, or something nice in the sky.

  25. Jason

    I for one welcome our helium breathing overlords

  26. Utakata

    …you know I’ve seen that same “UFO” outside my window every night. And I bet if you really take a real close look at it …it has this big red eye and covered with orange stripes. And if it “flew” really got close to us, even that big eye would swallow Earth all up…oh wait!

    On another note, I think it’s easier to punk blond reporters from Fox News than CNN, IMO. Just saying…

  27. Anyone else notice that today is the 1 year anniversary of the Balloon boy hoax?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balloon_boy_hoax

  28. Joel

    I remember years ago I had a childrens’ book many years ago, in which the main characters at one point research local news reports of UFO sightings. One was of a man walking his dog one foggy night, who saw a mysterious glowing light hovering above the ground, which as he watched changed from red to yellow to green, and then back again, and adds that this continued for several hours until he went home. Another, following an unrelated story about an explosion at a local laundry describes an equally mysterious sheet-like object seen flying over the town, and notes that “an unidentified flying sock was also reported”.

    That said, I’m going to have to try taking some pictures of Jupiter with my camera at maximum zoom now.

  29. Assimilation Expert

    You can’t cover this one up! I know jupiter does not exist, its really the mother ship and the “balloons” are the pods sent here carrying the virus which will destroy our motor control thus allowing the pleidians to occupy our flesh as their own! Stop the lies and save yourself before it’s too late! Experts are encouraging everyone to Be prepared-get 13 boxes of “reynolds wrap” aluminum foil, 6 bars of “ivory” soap, 4 bottles of “old spice, and a case of “budweiser” light beer. Do not buy another brand or… You… Will die! Stay indoors, your family may be at risk! Fill your bathtub just in case, and whatever you do, stay away from politicians and reporters. They have already been assimilated.

  30. Physicalist

    Hmmm. I don’t know . . .

    This one looks like the Flying Spaghetti Monster to me.

  31. Not only are such media reports irresponsible for their total lack of journalistic integrity and abysmal fact-checking (i.e., none), but releasing balloons like this is environmentally irresponsible and cruel, because many will fall over land or water and can end up being swallowed by birds, fish and other wildlife, and or animals can get entangled in the spent balloon and die of asphyxiation or starvation. This is a call for everyone… NEVER intentionally release a helium balloon. Please!

  32. Zucchi

    I know most people aren’t into astronomy. But for Pete’s sake, how can they be unfamiliar with one of the brightest objects in the sky? Have they never simply looked at the night sky before? It’s hard to square that level of ignorance and incuriosity with an interest in journalism.

    (Just kidding. It’s not journalism anymore. It’s “Communications”.)

  33. Mac

    Hundreds of videos have already been posted so….WAS THAT JUPITAR IN BROAD DAYLIGHT WITH IS CELESTIAL COUSINS? I thought discovery was about higher learning-but now your just insulting my intellegence.

    No more Discovery for me.

    Your heavily editted trash leaves out the fact that they (Hundreds of clusters dissapearing, re-appearing, Moving slow/quick and glowing different colors)We SEEN SINCE AFTERNOON UNTIL DARK.

    FAIL.

  34. Sam

    Now that is a perfectly fair critique of a “UFO story” — and of our lazy, sensationalistic media.

    Thank you for not taking any unnecessary or overbroad potshots at the UFO phenomenon as a whole (even though — or perhaps because(?) — we’re all already perfectly clear on where you stand on the subject).

    Many times on this blog, I’ve defended the position that the UFO phenomenon should be taken seriously. I just want to make the record clear: This type of obviously explainable case has nothing at all to do with my position on the subject as a whole. From the moment I heard the details of this UFO story (even without the benefit of proper investigation or critical analysis in the media coverage), I assumed it was just balloons, for all the reasons highlighted in this piece. I suspect most serious-minded people who believe the UFO issue is for real shared my assumption regarding this “event” from the start.

  35. WJM

    Where is that town where, ever 13 months, the go gaga over the return visit of the mysterious bright light that sane people call “Venus”?

  36. rob

    i’m sorry. it was me. i won’t do it again.

  37. I wasn’t aware that New Yorkers freaked out over things like balloons.
    I’d always heard it took quite a bit to rattle them.
    Were the reports of people standing there watching the objects blown out of proportion?

  38. BJN

    OMFG. We need to get people out and have them look at the skies once in a while.

    @Dan 22: Someone with good eyesight can make out the moons of Jupiter without magnification. Especially now with Jupiter so bright. With even cheap 8X binoculars anyone with reasonable eyesight can see them (as long as they don’t have the shakes or they use a tripod). The Fox video camera looks like it had more than 15x tele zoom range, and all you have to do to confirm Jupiter and its moon is look at the relative positions for the moons at the time of filming.

  39. NAW

    @24. AliCali: thanks, never really being to a large city and/or working with a camera like that, I didn’t know. Does sound cool though.

    @22. Dan: He was not saying they were the same “UFO sighting”, the Jupiter one was the reporter asking the cameraman to zoom in on the bright light in the sky. As for the 2nd part read AliCali’s response to my last post.

    And remember these things happen all the time. Why else would believers have so much “evidence”. They just keep waiting for the one or two reports that can not be easily identified, and hold on for dear life.

  40. Gosh, if I didn’t know better, I’d say the people at Fox News are ignorant.

  41. Dan I.

    Don’t they have some kind of place where astronomers work in NYC? Ya know, something with some big sphere in it…where people who study the sky do some kind of research?

    Oh what is that thing…oh yeah THE HAYDEN PLANETARIUM.

    Did no one say “Hmmm, ya know, maybe we should call those guys up the road and see what they think?”

  42. AJ

    I know it’s chic and hip to rip on Fox (FAUX NOOZ HURF DURF!) but I should point out that it’s a local affiliate reporting on a local story. In other words, they didn’t get any material from Fox News channel or Newscorp – this is all their OWN reporting.

    Which makes this either more or less sad, depending on how you look at it :)

  43. AJ

    I wish people (like those in the video) would stop referring to putative flying saucers with little green men in them as UFOs. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a friggin’ UFO (to you, anyway). I see UFOs every week, until I stop and figure out what I’m looking at (it’s amazing how in certain circumstances, bright objects with no nearby landmarks can appear to move around quite a bit because of saccadic eye movements).
    Maybe we need a new acronym – how about TUPAN (Temporarily Unidentified Phenomenon of Astronomical Nature)?

  44. Vlada

    Its not UFO, but a weather ballon, period. The same one that caused air trafic stopped in China some time ago. It managed somehow to fly across half the globe and cause excitement over NY City.

  45. @ Mac:

    Your heavily editted trash leaves out the fact that they (Hundreds of clusters dissapearing, re-appearing, Moving slow/quick and glowing different colors)We SEEN SINCE AFTERNOON UNTIL DARK.

    Please tell me that English is your second language.

  46. pk_boomer

    The stupid… it burns.

  47. Leo

    F.Y.I. there is a convergence between some UFO buffs and some 9/11 twoofers. Some of them think there was a UFO near the towers on 9/11 (the ones who don’t believe it was mini nukes or secret energy weapons) and now some are connecting the recent UFO sightings in China to some fanciful “false flag” event of the New World Order. One leading UFO nut job recently attacked the Skeptical Inquirer as being in on a NASA cover-up of alien visitations to Earth. Here is the link to the UFO twoofer: http://ufomagazine.squarespace.com/ufo-magazine/2010/10/3/reactionary-skeptibunkies-move-reactionary-bowels-regards-uf.html

  48. fred edison

    You could see the UFOs bobbing around like balloons being jostled by the wind. I’ll go out on a precarious limb and admit I think there’s more to UFOs than what meets the imaginative eye (I can’t be expected to be completely sane), but I’ll be the first to call a balloon a balloon. Thinking that everything is more than it is hinders and damages any investigation far more than it helps.

    We need to be intelligently receptive AND maintain a skeptical mind and analysis about these things. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But before you groan at the quote, one might think of the possibility of extraterrestrial life of which we have not yet found. We have no concrete evidence there’s life existing outside of our planet, but that doesn’t stop us from looking for it and thinking it’s extremely possible.

    May I suggest that immediately after the next mass balloon launching, we have a mass skeet shoot to bring those buggers down before we have another The War of the Worlds-esque panic.

  49. robbak

    Do those still making claims that these were not UFOs know that Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are often visible during the day? There was a time a few years ago when one of them (I forget which) was close to the moon in the early afternoon. This meant that it was easy to tell someone where to look (something like ‘a finger-width to the north-west of the moon’). Went out, looked, and there it was: a small dot, right where they said it would be.
    So, yes, people, it was Jupiter, and they could see it during the day.

  50. fromthehip

    Wrong……You can see jupiter with the naked eye or even a tv camera; however to pick up jupiters moons that clearly and have the moons be located so far from their orbiting planet (jupiter) only means one thing……the writer of this article does not know much about what he is writing……
    Sorry…my five year old even figured that one out.

  51. @ Mac (33):

    That still sounds pretty consistent with sightings of balloons. At distance the atmosphere can have some pretty weird effects on the appearance of objects. The number of times I’ve seen people get concerned over stars that change colour (atmospheric turbulence) is quite surprising. You’ll have to provide some links to the videos of these daylight sightings before I can attempt any real identification though – my internet is capped at the moment and a quick youtube search doesn’t show preview images showing daylight ufos. I’d rather not load entire videos at annoyingly slow speeds to try to find them.

    I’m always amused to read the comments sections of news websites/blogs that have reported UFO sightings that have turned out to be balloons, lanterns or the like. The amusement comes from the fact that it appears to be the explanation most disliked by ‘UFO proponents’. I always see people scoffing at the suggestion that this sighting could have actually just been a distant bit of rubber. I guess it’s pobably because it’s such a simple, basic bit of technology. That people can be easily fooled by a bit of plastic/crete paper at a distance probably doesn’t play too well with some egos. :P

    There was a local case a few months ago where a large number of people had called the local newspaper to report sightings of “lights” they had seen the previous evening. They moved sporadically, sometimes in clusters, at varying speeds and could disappear suddenly. A few people pointed out in the comments section of the online article that they sounded just like lanterns, and were subsequently criticised by the ‘UFO proponents’. The criticisms were pretty standard – “they moved too fast to be lanterns”, “their movement was obviously intelligent”, “I KNOW what I saw” (how does somebody KNOW what they saw when, by definition, such an observation is unidentified), “that’s just a blanket response you closed minded people give to all serious UFO sightings”, etc. We’ve all seen these kind of statements before. The interesting part was when someone added a comment to say that they WERE lanterns, because he was the person who had lit/released them at a park down by the beach. :P

    Ever since reading the article, I’ve been thinking that it would be an interesting experiment to launch a bunch of these lanterns on a nice clear Summer night (so that the beach-side cafes and restaurants are full) and see what reports are made to the various news outlets the following day. Perhaps even document the whole process – if it garnered positive results, the whole thing could be written up and passed on as a learning exercise in skeptical enquiry?

  52. fromthehip (#51): So what exactly is your experience observing Jupiter, with camera, binoculars, and telescopes?

    Here, I’ll start: I’ve been looking at it since about 1979, and I’ve probably seen it, conservatively, oh, a thousand times.

    But seriously, the diagram of Jupiter and its moons doesn’t sway you at all?

    And sometimes, five year olds, though cute and precocious, may not be the most trustworthy source of astronomical information.

  53. Ok, you need proof – I took a picture of that white light with a telescope – click my name to see what it looks like. I actually took the pictures a few days before everyone else noticed it. It’s been there for weeks.

    jbs

  54. Chris

    Phil’s experience with Jupiter includes teaching ME to be able to spot Jupiter, for which I am eternally grateful. My night sky astronomy lab at the University of Virginia was one of the best classes I took.

  55. Yeah, I zoomed in on that bright star and got little Moons next to it as well…easy to do.

    http://halfastro.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/jupiter-and-uranus/

  56. From the hip, I have done this with a 250mm zoom lens on a Canon Digital Rebel. It’s easy to get Jupiter’s Moons. I even got Uranus in the shot a few weeks ago. You can see my pics at

    http://halfastro.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/jupiter-and-uranus/

  57. Buzz Parsec

    @John Sandlin, beautiful. The South Equatorial Belt is still faded out, I see.

  58. Yes – but reading up about it, the belt should return within a few months. Apparently a layer of ammonia clouds has covered the southern tan belt (yeah, my image has north closer to the bottom) – I should put my web camera upside down :D.

  59. Messier Tidy Upper

    @6. Rhacodactylus Says:

    If there actually is intelligent life watching us, I have a feeling they have this conversation a lot: “Is it time to let the humans know they aren’t alone.”
    “Are you kidding?!? Those idiots are still confused on mass by floating bags of helium, better give them another thousand years or so.” ~Rhaco

    LOL. Yep. :-)

    If aliens are eavesdropping on us I wonder what they make of the “Flying Saucer” mob. :roll:

    “They confuse us with balloons, one of the brightest planets in their skies and even the Moon! They can’t be that intelligent a species! Think we’ll pass on contacting them!” ;-)

    @24. AliCali Says:

    I remember watching an outdoor sporting event on TV (I think it was the Winter Olympics), and coming out of commercial, there was this beautiful shot of Saturn. You could clearly see its rings and color bands. Then, the camera zoomed out to show just the dot and then the bright landscape that’s normally shown. That was wonderful. Since then, I fantasized about being a baseball announcer, and every day, I’d have the TV camera use a powerful zoom to show a planet, open cluster, or something nice in the sky.

    Saturn!? I’ve seen them regularly do some fantastic images of the Moon using the TV cameras covering the cricket esp. the day-night games but that’s awesome. Wonder of there’s footage of that anywhere?

    Nice plan with the TV crew idea there – me too. :-)

    I was at a cricket game once where Comet McNaught was spectacularly visible even despite the full glare of the Adelaide oval lights & the city’s skyglow – and it was twilight too. Don’t know if they showed anything of the comet on the TV coverage since I was at the game itself.

    @38. BJN Says:

    OMFG. We need to get people out and have them look at the skies once in a while.

    By Jove yes!! I second (third) that call. :-)

    So few people seem to have any idea what anything is up in the sky as this shows.

    @Dan 22: Someone with good eyesight can make out the moons of Jupiter without magnification. Especially now with Jupiter so bright.

    Very keen eyesight is needed not just good methinks. The brightness of Jupiter is the problem I’d think – as the glare from the planet washes the moons out and makes it harder to pick them up separately. What is needed is for the moons to be at their furthest (apparent) distance away from Jove.

    I read an old ‘Astronomy’ magazine article on seeing the Jovian moons unaided eye the other day. Will have to find it again for y’all ..

  60. Sam

    O yea.. cuz planets get weirdly huge then back small again.. another lame cover-up :p cmon accept the fact were bein watched by other living things in this universe

  61. Daniel J. Andrews

    Think it was back in the late 80s or early 90s, Sky and Telescope had an article about how to spot one of Jupiter’s moons with your naked eye. The trick was to occult the planet with, say, a gable end sticking out of a house. If you had a clear steady dark sky and sharp vision, you could just make out the moon when it was far enough away from the planet.

    That poor reporter was so excited. I imagine she had visions of winning some media prize at covering evidence of ET life. Fox News reporters look so cute when they’re excited about something (which seems to be most of the time I’ve bothered to watch).

    Edit: oops, I see Messier mentioned the Jupiter trick too. Maybe it was Astronomy I read it in. I was receiving both magazines back then.

    And O/T to Messier—loved your Svante’s Inferno reference to Venus in another thread! *Applause* :)

  62. @ Hale-Bopp:

    Sigh! Why is it up to me to make the obligatory juvenile joke?

    I even got Uranus in the shot a few weeks ago.

    Proof that this was a spacecraft piloted by the anal-probing sort of alien?

  63. I have to call Poe on #61. Sam, if you are serious, you need to …. focus. Focus. Focus!

  64. Utakata

    I vote that Phil should do an article that includes climate science and UFO’s at the same time. That way we’ll be able to hog tie them denialist and UFO nutters with the same rope when they come to trol…I mean post here. It would be like shooting fish in a clown barrel and loads of fun. <3

  65. mel

    I hate to burst your bubble (theory) but Jupiter’s moons cannot be seen with the naked eye. Binoculars or telescope is required. Even on a clear, cold night, the chance of seeing a moon (and then it would be only a ‘twinkle’, not a round orb) is slight.
    That light may have been Jupiter, but those orbs were not it’s moons.

  66. Messier Tidy Upper

    @65. Utakata : UFO’s to blame for Global Warming! Mankind off the hook -its all dem aleinzz out there. (The blushes of the probed causing the heating perhaps?) ;-)

    @ 62. Daniel J. Andrews : Thanks! Glad you liked it! :-)

    Can’t find the magazine with the “seeing Jupiter’s moons” article now frustratingly enough – saw it just the other day & could’ve sworn I knew where and which mag it was. Sigh.

    @56. hale-bopp & 54. John Sandlin : Thanks for sharing those photos. Love ‘em. :-)

    @35. WJM Says:

    Where is that town where, ever 13 months, the go gaga over the return visit of the mysterious bright light that sane people call “Venus”?

    I don’t know? Roswell or something? Was it in a Louis Theroux doco on the UFO sub-culture maybe?

    Thing is, I wonder if back in the very ancient neolithic kind of days this is how astronomy started – when folks saw strange lights in the sky (now known as planets!) that shifted and gradually learnt their patterns and how to predict their next cyclic appearences..??

  67. JB of Brisbane

    It never surprises me what gets mistaken for “unidentified flying objects” in our skies here. Examples I have seen include: the planet Mars (and probably Venus as well), escaped balloons (weather and decorative variety), hot air balloons made out of small bags, and even F-111s doing their famous “dump and burn” pass.

  68. Joel

    @53: Damn it all, Phil. I thought *everyone* knew that the mouths of babes and sucklings trump three decades of experience every single time.

  69. I mentioned in a previous article that my 3 year old niece (she’ll be 4 next week) has been raving for the last couple weeks “I love Jupiter! It’s my favorite planet!” Now, I have no idea where she picked up this fascination, but this past Wednesday I took the opportunity to show her the real thing.

    When it was finally dark out, and I could see Jupiter plainly in the sky, I called her and took her outside onto the stairs that lead to her kitchen and said “Do you see that bright light right there in the sky” And she replied in hushed, reverent tones “what is it?”

    “That’s Jupiter, Rory. That’s your favorite planet!”

    “Wow… can I see it from *in*side?” She replied as she retreated back into the warm.

    Oh, well. I tried.

  70. I’ve heard many of the ufo believers claim that the alleged ufo’s were visible well into the night, flew around and appeared to shine an orange light. Someone sent me a vid of a NYC Webcam. It’s a bit annoying to watch as it only refreshes once every 8 seconds or something but it does appear to show lights moving out in the night sky.
    The link is in my name. Anyone have any clues?

  71. Oh my God!
    [Irony mode: ON]
    It’s the first time in Spanish history we create something so amazing: UFOs! :D
    I hope they can let me fly in one of those soon. I pay my taxes.
    [Irony mode: OFF]
    Phil, we love your blog!
    Greetings from Spain!

  72. Grand Lunar

    I guess people got tired of looking at Venus and confusing it for a UFO, so now they’re picking on Jupiter. :)

    They should’ve contaced Neil Tyson. He lives in NYC, right?

    It’s plain to me that what people call the UFO phenomenon is nothing more than people not knowing what they are looking at in the sky.

  73. XPT

    The “come on reporters!” applies sadly to the majority of science reports everywhere… not to mention when they do call a experts and they’re not giving reality-based explanations.

  74. Brad

    “[I’ll note that there were some reports of UFO earlier in the day, but those look just like balloons as well, probably from a different event.]”

    So you rail on Fox News (correctly) for jumping to conclusions without doing any research. Yet, you did the same thing here. Were there actually two events going on in NYC? Or could it have been something else? I’m in no way suggesting it was actual UFO’s, but “probably from a different event” is just as dangerous as what they did. Except you have less viewers.

  75. IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE

    IMForeman (#70):

    “Wow… can I see it from *in*side?” She replied as she retreated back into the warm.

    That’s the TV/XBox generation for you! ;-)

  76. George

    Apparently there is no herd immunity when it comes to any Rupert Murdoch operation.

  77. Daniel J. Andrews

    Re: Naked eye viewing of Jupiter’s moons. Here’s a Sky and Telescope article from Dec 1976 (p. 482-4) discussing this. It also references a sighting by observer Richard Baum in the the April 1976 issue (p. 235). The moons are bright enough to be visible (magnitude 4.5-5.2, Jup. at mean opposition). It seems only Ganymede and Callisto have enough angular distance from Jupiter to be resolved with the naked eye. Callisto is the faintest so if you only see one moon, it is probably Ganymede. See denisdutton.com/jupiter_moons.htm

    IMForeman @70. My niece (5 and a half) told me the same thing last month. Jupiter was her favourite planet. In our case though we’d first looked at Jupiter and the position of its moons on Stellarium. Then we’d gone out with my high-end spotting scope (used for terrestrial viewing but makes a very good planetary scope), and she was able to spot the moons easily plus see a faint band on Jupiter. I think part of the allure was that she got to go outside in her PJs instead of being in bed. My nephew (7) was also similarly excited.
    -dan

  78. Gary Ansorge

    Silly reporter, so young, so hyper, with a voice so fraking,,,irritating,,,I’m sure she’ll go far with Faux Snooze.

    I still remember my time in Arabia, in August, 1990, waiting for the invasion, dreaming in a drunken daze of filling large trash bags with hydrogen and a long fuse and setting them to drift over Al Khobar,,,Ah the good old days.

    Gary 7

  79. New Yorker

    I live in lower Manhattan. I heard about this story Thursday morning at work. Coworkers asked me to look at the pictures. Immediate response to each photo or news video – balloons. I did collect links to 3 news stories.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/wpix-ufo-sighting,0,2283967.story

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/ufo-faa-unable-identify-objects-flying-nyc/story?id=11880227

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/10/14/dozens-report-ufo-new-york-city/

    The first article is a good summary of the events. Note that the are competing claims of whose balloons were the ufo’s.

    In lower Manhattan I see escaped balloons almost any clear day. Air pollution is low, so spotting them is easy. (Clear enough that you can spot Venus unaided if you know where to look). These are not usually from large releases. Mylar and plastic balloons are at used many different occasions and sold in many stores. The city has been very windy lately. Even at times when the winds are low the tall buildings result it crosswinds.

    If I had to guess the story was hyped because of the book release. All it would take is a single person to stand on the corner and look for an UFO and point it out to someone else. Most times of day I can see a balloon in 15- 30 minutes top.

  80. @ Banjo Stan:

    Uh, you know there are numerous heliports in Manhattan, don’t you? And both the Hudson and East rivers are flight paths for commuter aircraft?

    That big moon-shaped light in your image is probably…uh…the Moon.

    And if you could provide a date for that image, you could very easily use Heavens Above or some other star-finding website to see exactly what the bright light…er, planet?…would be.

  81. I am going to chime in again…you CAN see Callisto naked eye. I did it last month from Kitt Peak when Callisto was near maximum separation. I did not use anything to occult Jupiter. I found what I thought was Callisto and then one of the observers looked up its location and it matched the location I was seeing an object and there were no bright stars in the vicinity that could have been fooling me.

    Just because YOU have never seen any of Jupiter’s moons naked eye doesn’t mean no one has.

    I also think my previous pics show pretty conclusively you can image Jupiter’s moons with a modest 250mm zoom lens on a digital camera. Good television cameras have much longer zoom lenses and it would be an easy shot for them.

    Sorry about the double post before…tried to edit and ended up duplicating instead.

  82. @ Mel:

    I love the way nutjobs start adopting the fancy UFOs=flying saucers terms right away.

    Suddenly a bunch of balloons floating in the air are “orbs.” I suppose the “triangles” will show up next. Flown by “greys” no doubt.

    Should your reading comprehension ever reach third grade level, you will note that nobody here has suggested Jupiter was responsible for the daytime balloon sightings. Jupiter was what the idiot reporter had her cameraman aim the camera at as she was doing her piece.

  83. HOAX in a BOX

    Well the whole UFO thing was ballons. But the kicker is that some UFO guy predicted that UFO would fly over ” Major city’s in the US”. I think it was a fox and they ran with it

  84. L

    I didn’t know balloons lit up in the night sky…

  85. @ L:

    I didn’t know balloons lit up in the night sky…

    When the metropolis below the night sky is filled with millions of incandescent lights, pretty much anything will look “lit up.” Particularly if they are big clumps of highly reflective mylar balloons.

    Oh, but spaceships are a much more reasonable answer!

  86. Keith (the first one)

    I actually saw some UFO’s momentarily the other night. It was in South London (actually just in Kent) and they were both flying westwards. The lead one then disappeared, and shortly afterwards, so did the following one. All this was through a light cloud cover.

    It didn’t take long for me to realise that what I was probably seeing was a pair of RAF Typhoons on QRA (quick reaction alert) duties, flying with their afterburners on for a brief moment. The cloud would have obscured the navigation lights. The whole time I could hear jet aircraft but with the busy sky around here that didn’t mean much.

    Obviously they might not have been that, but it’s a far more reasonable explanation than aliens. It never even occured to me that they might be extra-terrestrial.

  87. noen

    My brother saw a UFO once, I never have. He says that what he saw came in low over our fields hovered and then took off at high speed. It was very large and looked like an airplane wing without the fuselage. He insists that what he saw could not have been made by humans.

    I don’t know what to think of that, it just makes no sense to me, but he’s my brother and it is very hard to tell someone close to you that they’re deeply wrong. He isn’t crazy, I know that. The social urge to support him, at least emotionally, is also very strong. It’s all very well and good to laugh at random strangers on the internet but when it’s your own family it is much harder.

    I have no idea if there is anything to the UFO phenomenon. It seems unlikely and yet there are a very small number of reported sightings that cannot be reasonably explained. True believers in the UFO cult do not refute the possibility that there may be more to it than we know.

    Maybe there are aliens. Maybe there were technologically advanced cultures in the past who are now keeping themselves hidden from us. Maybe the military does have advanced “disruptive” technology it is keeping secret. Who knows, it’s all speculation.

  88. @noen:

    It’s all very well and good to laugh at random strangers on the internet but when it’s your own family it is much harder.

    If anyone in my family were to insist a bunch of balloons floating in the sky, or the planet Jupiter, or a cirrus cloud were an alien spaceship I’d have no trouble laughing at them.

    It seems unlikely and yet there are a very small number of reported sightings that cannot be reasonably explained.

    “Unidentified” is perfectly reasonable. And it does not equate to spaceship, or pandimensional whoozewhatzit, or any other non-reasonable explanation for which there is NO evidence.

    Who knows, it’s all speculation.

    Yup. Speculation without a shred of evidence to back it up. So you might as well include unicorns in there.

  89. Anna

    We need more science education in the schools! This is really basic stuff.

  90. Jeff

    this story just reinforces Kuhnigget’s astute observation that UFO fans just can’t leave unidentified, unidentified, they just have to fill in their own fantasy.

    There are no flying saucers , only people with flying saucers in their heads, oh, and the people writing books for money.

  91. I’m here to confess..

    I’m just back from committing astronomy. We had a “howl at the moon” event and got to show a good number of people just what that bright shiny thing in the sky really is. It was a public outreach for the local schools and so a great number of families came and saw Jupiter and its moons, the earth’s moon, Alberio, and an Iridium Flare (Iridium 52) – well and bunches of stuff – through a wide variety of instruments. Hopefully, none of tonight’s folks will mistake Jupiter for a UFO any time soon.

    Well, one kid swears he saw little green aliens waving flags at us from the moon.

    jbs

  92. Hey, Phill, how about this one:
    Mysterious Lights Over East El Paso, News Channel 9
    YouTube video – watch?v=rEtTl9cGrJc

    I know that Fox made a stupid video, but how about C9’s one? It is clearly not a planed, Moon, balloons, flares or planes. Sky divers maybe (thought it doesn’t look exactly like it)?

  93. Fair

    I was surprised that there still are schoolteachers out there who are not aware that releasing balloons is a bad idea. However, in a least one news report, they indicated that the release was not intentional, but due to unexpected winds. Good thing none of the kids were holding enough balloons to send them aloft.

  94. Messier Tidy Upper

    @94. Jeff Says:

    this story just reinforces Kuhnigget’s astute observation that UFO fans just can’t leave unidentified, unidentified, they just have to fill in their own fantasy.

    Just fantasising about what an (as yet) unidentified celestial object *might* be is one thing and is okay.

    However, zealously beleiving and insisting that that fantasy is *the* real and only possible solution and firmly mis-identifying the unknown object as the fantasised one – now
    that is the problem!

    Having an imagination and being able to think of a range of solutions, incl. the ridiculously implausible, is a positive thing and helps with science and life generally. :-)

    OTOH, failing to realistically assess the liklihood of various possible solutions and refusing to accept that a ridulously implausible explanation is a poor & unlikely to be true one precisely because it is ridiculously implausible is NOT. Nor is sticking fanatically to & constantly asserting only the most unlikely possible solution despite having alternative more reasonably likely explanations available. :-(

    Hence Sagan’s maxim that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” and “if you hear hoofprints think horses not unicorns” are key rules of thumb that need to be applied.

    ***

    PS. I still can’t find that old article on seeing the Galilean moons with the unaided eye. Read it just the other day in a late 80’s / early 90’s ‘Astronomy’ mag. Still looking .. but will have to get some sleep soon & then working tomorrow so will have to get back to y’all on that much later. :-(

  95. Pete

    Moons of Jupiter?????? LOL…. the moons of Jupiter need a high power scope to view.

  96. Messier Tidy Upper

    Also worth considering as a rule of thumb is that we all – especially ourselves personally – can be and often are easily fooled particularly in cases where we wish or assume something to be true.

    (There was a good & often-cited quotation on this factor which I’m semi-paraphrasing here but I forget exactly how it went or who said it. Carl Sagan or Isaac Asimov probably but not certainly.)

    This possibility always must be taken into account as well.

    The “Flying Saucer” believers, it seems to me, usually fall down when it comes to considering and applying this rule of thumb.

  97. Messier Tidy Upper

    Three illustrations of my point in #97 above :

    1) Percieval Lowell’s Martian canals. Lowell went to his grave sincerely convinced he had seen and mapped real canals on Mars. This was a major controversy at the time with various astronomers for or against Lowell’s canals. Alas, these turned out to be an optical illusion caused by him straining his eyes to their limits to try to make out faint details on the martian disk.

    2) Tycho Brahe’s reaction to observing the supernova of 1572. (I think it was, going from memory here.) Brahe a great scientist quite literally did NOT believe that he was seeing what he was seeing until he asked several passers-by to confirm it visually for him. Then – and only then – did Tycho accept that his senses weren’t fooling him! Proving no one is immune, however, Tycho later found it impossible to fully accept the Copernican Sun-centred model of the solar system and chose instead to devise and advocate for an unwieldly compromise where the rest of the planets went around the Sun which then still orbited the Earth!

    3) Me personally from experience – NOT to suggest that I’m anything even remotely like as significant as Tycho or Lowell natch! :-)

    Nor is this only in me never seeing the typos in these comments until after they’ve appeared either! ;-)

    There have been at least two occassions when I thought a star was significantly very much brighter than it should have been & thus something odd must have been happening (Betelegeux & Sargas or Epsilon Scorpii respectively) and got very excited only to realise later that I was badly mistaken. There was also the time when camping outdoors as a kid I saw the moonset very yellow-reddish on the horizon and still half-asleep became convinced our Moon had just been hit and its surface turned molten by a colossal asteroid impact! ;-)

  98. @ Messier Tidy Upper:

    NOT to suggest that I’m anything even remotely like as significant as Tycho …

    Yeah, ’cause I bet you haven’t got a gold nose!

    There was also the time when camping outdoors as a kid I saw the moonset very yellow-reddish on the horizon …

    Once, many moons ago (snicker!), my parents were driving me to a train station very early in the morning in Central Washington state. As we crested a hill we could see way off in the distance what looked to be a giant hot air balloon hovering over the road. It was clearly enormous and glowing ruddy orange as if lit up by the burner inside. We watched it for several minutes as it appeared to sink slowly toward the ground.

    The further we drove, however, the odd balloon kept getting farther away. When we reached the train station it was still far away and not hovering where we thought it had been. My dad asked a woman at the station if there was a balloon festival or something going on. She looked at us like we were nuts and calmly replied, “That’s the moon.”

    Sure enough, another glance and the moon “clicked” into our brains. I had been pursuing amateur astronomy for several years by that time and had probably spent hundreds of hours logging observing time.

    People get confused. Smart people try not to stay confused. Less than smart people mix their confusion with their fantasies and don’t let go of either.

  99. noen

    “Sure enough, another glance and the moon “clicked” into our brains.”

    That’s called a gestalt switch. Everything we perceive is an interpretation. There is no such thing as neutral observation.

    “Smart people try not to stay confused. “

    Translation: You had better obey the ruling paradigm. The normal operation of science does not aim at novelty. In fact, you know that you are doing good science when you find no anomalies. Science is non-cumulative.

  100. @ Noen:

    Translation: You had better obey the ruling paradigm

    No, the correct translation is: smart people learn to examine what they observe and determine the most probable explanation based upon the existing evidence. They don’t make stuff up, or make giant leaps of faith, based upon their preconceived notions.

    The normal operation of science does not aim at novelty. In fact, you know that you are doing good science when you find no anomalies. Science is non-cumulative.

    You could not be farther from the truth, my friend.

    Scientists adore novelty. Novelties represent opportunities for new avenues of investigation. Provided, of course, by “novelty” you mean “novel evidence,” not “novel imagination.”

    As for science being “non-cumaltive,” perhaps you’d better clarify what you mean by that, because on its face it is utterly ridiculous. Science is all about accumulation! Evidence, observation, theory…they all build upon one another and are free to change as more evidence, observation, theories build up.

    Honestly, what were you thinking?

  101. TomF

    Dear Fox “News” “reporter”.

    Take out your iPhone. Run PocketUniverse. Point it at the object in the sky. It will tell you that is Jupiter. Marvel at the wonders of both the universe, and modern technology.

    Yours sincerely,
    Common Sense.

    Note that this is just evolution in action. Many hundreds of reporters given that news story would have done exactly that, and in doing so they would have failed in their mission to fill airtime, and would have been fired. This airhead bravely fought the dragons of knowledge and prevailed in her quest for ignorance, and managed to fill an entire two and a half minutes that we would have otherwise been occupied by Oprah, Palin or McCarthy.

    Pocket Universe is really frikkin cool. I love the way it uses the compass for your heading and the accelerometer to tell your inclination, and then tells you what you’re looking at. This is the promise of Augmented Reality made real!

  102. David

    It is true that some pictures of the NY UfO looks like a bunch of balloons. However there are other prictures where they appear to be in a formation and a video with them moving a high speed – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv9fr_Ades0 – this is nothing like balloons. It is convenient to encourage the balloon theory for the government agencies involved in the coverup, It is the US military/intelligence community that does not want the truth about advanced aliens visiting from outer space to be revealed, since that would undermine US military and economic dominance of the world. This elaborate coverup has been going on for almost 60 years. See http://www.ufocoverup.org for more info

  103. QuietDesperation

    You folks realize that Fox News Channel (does not equal) local Fox affiliate, right?

    *ALL* local news is junk. You should see the array of losers we have here in So Cal on the CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox locals. Even a couple formerly decent independents have gone the way of fluff.
    Only on a couple radio station is any serious reporting getting done.

  104. Jon Hanford

    @David,

    According to the website you linked, Pluto is named as an inhabited *planet* (along with all the others and “Vulcan”) . Pluto is a plutoid. Shouldn’t that be changed to inhabited Plutoid? :)

    …Ooops, further down the page I noticed the statement “So here goes (pure speculation):”. That sentence should be at the TOP of the page!

  105. David the UFO nutter sez:

    However there are other prictures where they appear to be in a formation and a video with them moving a high speed

    I guess David didn’t hear the guy shooting the video saying, “Yeah, they’re balloons.” Odd about that.

    And that “high speed” business…uh…you did notice the camera was hand-held and moving all over the place, right? Here’s a bit of info for you: panning a camera makes the image move around on screen. It does not imply the objects you are taping are moving. (Otherwise those would be some pretty mobile buildings those guys were shooting.)

    This information has been approved by the Evil Gummint Conspiracy™.

  106. @ Quiet Desperation:

    Yeah, remember when Channel 5, KTLA, used to be something worth watching?

    Sighhh…..

  107. noen

    kuhnigget Says:
    “Scientists adore novelty. Novelties represent opportunities for new avenues of investigation. “

    Science abhors novelty. Imposing the same explanatory paradigm onto “new avenues of investigation” is not valuing novelty. It is it’s exact opposite. The purpose of the majority of scientific research is to articulate the ruling paradigm in new areas of investigation. You can see that being played out in this discussion of UFOs. Novel observations are quickly shoved into a box labeled “no alien craft”.

    Forget the stupid Fox News talking head. Think about the example I gave of my brothers experience. His experience is completely novel. Something flew over our fields. (I was raised on a farm) What ever it was it was completely unlike anything he knew. To this day he has a hard time describing it. It was just very big, very low and completely silent. It then shot off at an extremely high speed. There are many UFO reports like that by others.

    What do we do with that? Nothing. I just let it sit and I refuse to place it into any preconceived box. I just allow the cognitive dissonance to just be instead of desperately trying to find a frame into which I can put it. I think more people should do that.

    “As for science being “non-cumaltive,” perhaps you’d better clarify what you mean by that, because on its face it is utterly ridiculous.”

    Science does not advance through the slow accumulation of evidence. We know this for a fact. Science only advances when there is a crisis in the current paradigm that can no longer be covered over and ignored. The sense that you have that scientific knowledge is monolithic is an illusion. When a new paradigm is accepted people go back and reinterpret old paradigms in the light of the new one.

    So people say that relativity is built on top of classical mechanics in spite of the fact that relativity and quantum mechanics completely replaces it and that classical mechanics could never have served as an explanation for fundamental physics even on it’s own terms.

    There was a UFO over our fields when I was young. My brother saw it, I believe him. It was unlike anything we know. I have no idea what it was. The world is bigger than we imagine it to be.

  108. Well, Noen, we will agree to disagree then. To wit:

    The purpose of the majority of scientific research is to articulate the ruling paradigm in new areas of investigation.

    I think we are confusing “science” as a body of knowledge with “science” as a methodology.

    Theories come and go. When an old theory tries to accommodate new evidence (novelty) and fails, then the old theory goes out the door and new theories that do accommodate that evidence are developed. This happens over and over. It is one of the central principles of the scientific method.

    I honestly don’t know how you can confuse this with an “abhorrence” of novelty.

    Think about the example I gave of my brothers experience. His experience is completely novel.

    To him.

    Something flew over our fields.

    Which he could not identify.

    (I was raised on a farm)

    Irrelevant, except it may suggest a certain unfamiliarity with objects or phenomena not typically observed on farms.

    What ever it was it was completely unlike anything he knew. To this day he has a hard time describing it.

    Which proves only he didn’t know what it was.

    It was just very big, very low and completely silent. It then shot off at an extremely high speed.

    A couple of questions: how did he know it was big? If it was unlike anything he knew, and he has a hard time describing it, how did he judge its size? How did he know how far away it really was? How did he know it “shot off” at a high speed if it was something he couldn’t recognize and couldn’t judge accurately?

    Notice, please, that I’m not saying your brother didn’t see something. The point is, and it’s a very important point, you haven’t got enough information to come up with an identification of any kind. And just because you don’t have that information doesn’t automatically mean what your brother saw wasn’t some perfectly mundane object that he didn’t recognize. Given the utter lack of evidence of anything else, it is reasonable to assume that was the case. Certainly more reasonable than jumping to the conclusion that it was something not of this earth.

    I just let it sit and I refuse to place it into any preconceived box.

    But it is YOU who are placing it into a preconceived box by automatically assuming what your brother saw was something that could not be explained rather than some ordinary phenomenon that he just happens to be unfamiliar with. On what do you base your assumption? You have no evidence!

    Science does not advance through the slow accumulation of evidence. We know this for a fact.

    Sorry, but that is just dead wrong.

    The sense that you have that scientific knowledge is monolithic is an illusion.

    I don’t know where you got that impression, but it wasn’t from me. I see science as the ultimate open door. Scientific methodology is constantly uncovering paradigm shifting evidence that requires our fundamental theories to be reconsidered. This is not a crisis, but the status quo.

    Again, you are dead wrong.

    So people say that relativity is built on top of classical mechanics in spite of the fact that relativity and quantum mechanics completely replaces it and that classical mechanics could never have served as an explanation for fundamental physics even on it’s own terms.

    In the sense that classical Newtonian physics failed to account for new observational evidence and Einstein’s theories did, leads me to the conclusion that your statement is false. Newton took the first steps, Einstein followed. It is ever thus. “If I have seen farther than others it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.”

    There was a UFO over our fields when I was young. My brother saw it, I believe him. It was unlike anything we know. I have no idea what it was. The world is bigger than we imagine it to be.

    All of those statements can be true and still there is absolutely not one whit of evidence for an extraterrestrial explanation to what your brother saw.

  109. Damon

    What is the point of this article?

    Just face it Phil, you and your shill friends are never going to be able to explain away all UFOs or extraterrestrial encounters. It’s time to step aside and let the experts in the field do their work. But please, in the meantime, continue assuming we’re all too dumb to know what a weather balloon or planet Venus looks like.

    Just take the post above me for example. Desperate skeptic trying desperately to hold on to his belief that the world is flat. Thousands of photos, videos, eyewitness accounts and literature say otherwise. You want physical evidence, get it yourself. Or even better, go back to staring at your .00000001% of the night sky through your telescope, that’s sure to disprove UFOs.

    Some kids can’t be taught, I tell ya’. Stop trying to apply the scientific method to a phenomenon that can’t be predicted.

  110. noen

    kuhnigget Says:
    “When an old theory tries to accommodate new evidence (novelty) and fails, then the old theory goes out the door and new theories that do accommodate that evidence are developed. This happens over and over. It is one of the central principles of the scientific method”

    New evidence isn’t novelty. We do not gaze upon the world with unblemished eyes. Evidence always comes to us already wrapped up in a theory about that evidence. Evidence that fails to support our current paradigm is simply discarded, or denied publication, or shoehorned to fit, or just stonewalled. Theories are hardly ever discarded. It is always possible to save a given hypothesis by making the appropriate adjustments so that the potentially falsifying new evidence can be accommodated.

    Novelty isn’t something that confirms for you what you already know. True novelty destroys your world and leaves everything you thought was true a smoking crater.

    “I’m not saying your brother didn’t see something. The point is, and it’s a very important point, you haven’t got enough information to come up with an identification of any kind.”

    I don’t want to belabor the details too much because they aren’t that important to me. He says it was like a wing of an airplane without the fuselage or a flying remote control for a TV, sort of. What is important to me is not what he saw so much as that he saw something that cannot be explained. Something that just did not fit into this world as we understand it.

    “But it is YOU who are placing it into a preconceived box by automatically assuming what your brother saw was something that could not be explained rather than some ordinary phenomenon that he just happens to be unfamiliar with. On what do you base your assumption? You have no evidence!”

    But I do have evidence. His testimony is my evidence. I know him and I’ve talked to him. I know he wasn’t high or in an altered state. I know that he is a normal person of more or less average intelligence and that he’s had a good enough education to not mistake Jupiter for a UFO. He can’t explain what he saw and I can’t test his claims. I have a choice, I can either accept that he saw something that cannot be placed into my inventory of “things that I know” or I can dismiss it. I don’t feel I am justified in simply dismissing his experience.

    “Sorry, but that is just dead wrong. “

    An even cursory look at the history of science reveals that it has gone through several paradigm shift that were at the time felt as a crisis. A paradigm shift is by definition not “the status quo”.

    <i."In the sense that classical Newtonian physics failed to account for new observational evidence and Einstein’s theories did, leads me to the conclusion that your statement is false."

    Classical mechanics didn’t fail because of new evidence that it could not explain but others could. Though that is one reason. Classical mechanics was already a failed theory because there were interactions that it could not explain on it’s own terms.

    “All of those statements can be true and still there is absolutely not one whit of evidence for an extraterrestrial explanation to what your brother saw.”

    I never said it was. I have only argued for it being unexplained and to leave it at that. I don’t think we know everything. Not in the sense that we can only discover more information that fits in with everything we know. I mean that I don’t think we know everything and that at some point everything we believe we know will be turned upside down.

  111. Rob

    Now that you have solved the New York mystery why don’t you take a look at the El Paso and London sightings?

  112. @ Noen:

    Yeah, like I said, we’ll just agree to disagree.

    So at the risk of whacking a late horse…

    Theories are hardly ever discarded.

    Hmm. Earth-centric cosmos. Helio-centric cosmos. Milky Way-centric cosmos. Steady state cosmos. To name a few astronomical theories that have been discarded. (Well…steady state sneaks back in now and then.) And that’s just off the top of my head.

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t think you’re correct in your assertion about this one. And I get the impression that you share a common trait with UFO nuts, in that you view scientists as much more attached to the present state of knowledge than they really are. Yes, scientists are people, too, and get familiar and friendly with their pet theories. But I’m willing to bet that the vast majority would be perfectly happy if some startling new evidence were to come along that turned everything topsy turvy. As I said before, scientists like doing science, and every new piece of evidence — even if it makes them discard old theories — is just one more chance to do some science.

    I don’t want to belabor the details too much because they aren’t that important to me.

    But I do have evidence. His testimony is my evidence.

    Okay, but the details are important, nonetheless. Many commenters on this blog routinely bring up the well-studied fact that humans make really lousy recording devices. Our perceptions are just too easily fooled, and our brains are too quick to ignore that which they don’t recognize. So the details, which in your brother’s case are lacking, are very important, especially if you want to deduce grand declarations about the event being some radically earthshaking phenomenon.

    Something that just did not fit into this world as we understand it.

    Again, emphasizing the “we”. Meaning you and your brother. Doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t have understood right away what he saw and thought nothing of it. It happens all the time, as is evidenced by the videos of balloons that David linked to above.

    I don’t feel I am justified in simply dismissing his experience.

    I wouldn’t, either. And I don’t. I just don’t see anything in his story that is evidence of some groundbreaking, world-shattering phenomenon.

    An even cursory look at the history of science reveals that it has gone through several paradigm shift that were at the time felt as a crisis.

    I grant that. But these were largely shifts that involved significant social baggage, as well. Man’s place in God’s world…that sort of thing. But to equate these huge shifts with the non-stop revising and rethinking of theories that is the scientist’s daily stock in trade is just silly. Scientists shift their points of view all the time, and it’s a cliché to think otherwise.

    I mean that I don’t think we know everything and that at some point everything we believe we know will be turned upside down.

    Well that’s good to know. I’m somewhere less along the line than you in that regard. I believe there will be revolutions in our knowledge, but none that will overturn everything we know.

    But when those revolutions come, they are going to be riding in on the backs of huge mountains of solid evidence, not on the unsupported personal anecdotes of any one human being.

  113. @ Damon:

    Wow. Usually it doesn’t get this dumb until comment #200 or so. Where to begin?

    What is the point of this article?

    To highlight what happens when critical thinking skills are lacking.

    Just face it Phil, you and your shill friends are never going to be able to explain away all UFOs or extraterrestrial encounters.

    He, and we, have never claimed to do so. We simply state that there is no evidence they are “extraterrestrial” in nature. Do you have that evidence? Millions of interested parties are waiting…

    It’s time to step aside and let the experts in the field do their work.

    Ah, and who might those “experts” be? The ones selling the UFO books at UFO conventions? Or the ones posting videos of balloons on YouTube (in which the people taking the video clearly state, “Yeah, it’s just a balloon”?) Or maybe it’s the people who look at a video of ice crystals floating outside the space shuttle window and insist they are spaceships?

    But please, in the meantime, continue assuming we’re all too dumb to know what a weather balloon or planet Venus looks like.

    Actually, in this case it was a bunch of party balloons and the planet Jupiter they couldn’t identify.

    Desperate skeptic trying desperately to hold on to his belief that the world is flat.

    Oh, I got over the flat earth thing a long time ago. I’m a Shaverist, now.

    Thousands of photos, videos, eyewitness accounts and literature say otherwise.

    No they don’t. They are just photos of fuzzy objects and silly models (Hi, Billy!) and clouds and other stuff, some of which cannot be identified. See above. Lack of identification does not equate to spaceship. By the way, lots of old literature described fairies and elves, too. So I guess they’re invited to the party?

    You want physical evidence, get it yourself.

    Not my job, philomou. You make the claim, you bring the evidence. That’s the way it works.

    Some kids can’t be taught, I tell ya’.

    No argument from me on that one.

    Stop trying to apply the scientific method to a phenomenon that can’t be predicted.

    That doesn’t even make sense.

    But, if you mean the phenomenon can’t be studied by scientific methods, then you’d better come up with a reason why. There are no limits to the scientific method. If it can be observed, it can be studied.

  114. noen

    Sure, I can agree to disagree.

    “But when those revolutions come, they are going to be riding in on the backs of huge mountains of solid evidence”

    But that’s not how a gestalt switch works, which is what a paradigm shift is only culturally. In the comment above to which I replied about it being a gestalt switch. What they thought was a balloon suddenly became the moon. But it didn’t happen because they got some new information.

    “Sure enough, another glance and the moon “clicked” into our brains.”

    There was no additional information available to them. That is also how a paradigm shift works. There isn’t any new evidence, a crisis develops because the old paradigm is failing and then there is a sudden switch. What was once solid evidence for the old interpretation becomes evidence for the new one.

    My hypothesis then (and it’s hardly mine) is that that is a general feature of the world and it goes all the way down.

  115. Damon,

    For all the thousands of photos and other evidence cited, there is absolutely no evidence provided that must be explained by extraterrestrial intelligences. The standard used to explain what we see is to choose the most likely, rather than least likely, and test to see if the explanation works. Very seldom have we observations that cannot be explained by the mundane, although very often we find that we do not have sufficient evidence to know which mundane explanation is correct.

    It isn’t a lack of possible, or even plausible, explanations to chose from, but a lack of definitive evidence that leaves many sightings unexplained. There very well may be something extraordinary happening – but since we have no evidence that this is the most likely explanation, we do better not to jump to such a conclusion.

    jbs

  116. @ Noen:

    But that’s not how a gestalt switch works, which is what a paradigm shift is only culturally.

    I guess that is the crux of our disagreement. I don’t see that sort of shift happening quite the way you do. While there probably have been such moments in the history of science (I suppose Relativity and Quantum Mechanics could count, tho they lacked the social baggage I was referring to above), these did not arrive empty of new evidence/observations. Observations of the precession of Mercury’s perihelion, for example, brought new data to the astrophysics table. Newtonian physics failed to explain this new data, while Relativity predicted it. So while Einstein’s insight might have involved your gestalt shift, the scientific community’s acceptance of his work certainly didn’t, or at least didn’t rely upon it without the evidence to back it up.

    And you haven’t sold me that such shifts continue “all the way down.” In fact, I don’t see that you’ve provided any evidence to back up that claim. As I noted earlier, scientists change their perspectives as a matter of course. While I’m sure there are exceptions – scientists are people, too – most scientists thrive on change.

    Finally, these paradigm shifts aren’t happening regarding the UFO phenomenon, not because of any grand conspiracies or betrothals to the status quo, but because the basics of human psychological theory, group psychology, human perception studies, et al, seem to do a perfectly good job accounting for the vast majority of the data. The very small percentage of incidents that cannot be accommodated by these theories must be left “undecided.” There simply isn’t enough (or any) data to allow us to honestly conclude otherwise.

  117. Nigel Depledge

    Shadmere (1) said:

    The scientists are . . . undercover aliens themselves.

    Damn. Outed.

  118. Nigel Depledge

    NewEnglandBob (3) said:

    It’s Fox. They have a low standard.

    They have a standard?

  119. Nigel Depledge

    speaker2a (13) said:

    So all of you that are so critical of Fox, please fire up your critical thinking skills and try not to bash them for bashing sake.

    They were bashing a Japanese distilled spirit? But Phil doesn’t even mention that!

    Oh. I get it. You meant “. . . for bashing’s sake.”

  120. Nigel Depledge

    Dan (22) said:

    . . . I am not claiming that there isn’t a conventional explanation for this event. Rather I hope that I have shown that you have not proved your assertions.

    Ah, so this is where the logical fallacies start.

    First off, Phil does not need to prove anything here. The burden of proof is on the people who claim that this sighting was anything other than a mundane phenomenon.

    Phil has shown that what was seen is likely to have been balloons and the planet Jupiter.

    We know that balloons exist.
    We know that Jupiter exists.
    We know that there is no evidence of extraterrestrial visitation ever having occurred on Earth.
    We know that interstellar travel presents huge problems to overcome – and those problems become larger if you want to make interstellar travel routine (rather than using, say, a “generation ship”).

  121. DennyMo

    88. L Says: “I didn’t know balloons lit up in the night sky”

    They could have been Sky Lanterns, those have become rather popular in the last few years, and are often mistaken for UFOs:
    http://www.skylighter.com/mall/novelty.asp?fl=search#NV5000

  122. “That bright object is Jupiter.”

    vs.

    “We don’t know what it COULD be but it might be lots of other things… Let’s ask people what THEY think!”

    Which one of those headlines gets ratings? Sadly, the latter. The worst part is that it gets people all worked up. They slap on their tinfoil hats. They get their masks out. The start parading around like something incredible is going to happen.

    Well, something incredible IS happening. You can see a gas giant planet and four of it’s moons with a decent telescope. Isn’t that incredible enough? Nah, they want spaceships, death-beams and messiahs. Ugh.

  123. Nigel Depledge

    Reading some of the comments not very far up this thread (no, I have not yet read them all), I get a weird sense of déjà vu.

    http [colon slash slash] blogs [dot] discovermagazine [dot] com/badastronomy/2010/10/03/its-a-ufo-by-jove/

    There exists no unambiguous evidence of alien spaceships.
    Eyewitness accounts are still not evidence (for reasons that have been iterated and reiterated on that previous thread).

    As yet, there is no unambiguous evidence that even a tiny proportion of reported UFOs are anything other than mundane phenomena.

    And, just as with other issues on which he has shared his thoughts, Damon still does not understand what can and what can not be reasonably concluded from any given piece of information.

  124. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (119) said:

    But that’s not how a gestalt switch works, which is what a paradigm shift is only culturally. In the comment above to which I replied about it being a gestalt switch. What they thought was a balloon suddenly became the moon. But it didn’t happen because they got some new information.

    It seems to me that you’re describing an optical illusion, not a paradigm shift.

    Edit – OK, I just read kuhnigget’s comment to which you refer, and I now know it was an optical illusion. Optical illusions work because our brain tries to fit what we see to stuff we know. By thinking “balloon”, kuhnigget made his brain present it as a balloon even though it was an odd one, but as soon as someone said “it’s the moon”, he could see it for what it was.

    A prevailing paradigm will only change in response to the acquisition of new data, or with the discovery of a new theory.

    Biology has only had one paradigm shift – evolutionary theory. And it took a shedload of data to get the scientific bigwigs of the day to accept it (in fact, IIUC, some never did).

    It is arguable whether or not GR represents a genuine paradigm shift. True, it showed that a fact that could not be accounted for by the previous theory – Mercury’s orbital precession – was accounted for by the new theory. But it was also found that Newtonian gravitational theory was a very good approximation for modest accelerations and modest gravitational fields. IIUC, space scientists still use Newtonian equations to calculate how to get their space vehicles to where they want them to go.

    QM was a paradigm shift, because it replaced the view that, provided with enough data, anything could be predicted with one that said some things were intrinsically unknowable (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, but also the modern conception of particles that derives from this and wave-particle duality that views particles not as tiny little billiard balls, but more sort of like smears of probability).

    There are other examples, but the term “paradigm shift” is too often bandied about without real justification.

  125. Nigel Depledge

    Pete (99) said:

    Moons of Jupiter?????? LOL…. the moons of Jupiter need a high power scope to view.

    Rubbish!

    I’ve seen one of them (probably Ganymede, but I don’t know that for sure) through a cheap (we’re talking the equivalent of about US$15 – 20 here) pair of binoculars. It would only take a marginally better pair of bins to see all four of the Galilean moons. While Io And Europa are smaller than Ganymede and Callisto, they are also brighter objects.

  126. Mike G

    @pumper
    Yes, I think it’s fair to call the lights over El Paso UFOs. However, East El Paso, where the lights were seen is home to Fort Bliss, where the US Army does artillery and missile testing, so I think it’s much more likely that the lights were associated with an Army test than ET.

  127. @ Nigel:

    I think you could reread any of the BA’s old UFO posts and get the exact same comments, and probably in the same general order, too.

    At lest noen added a slightly different spin, even if he ended up with the same conclusion as the usual UFO nutters.

  128. @ Mike G:

    I think it’s fair to say the El Paso lights are now safely “IFOs”. They appeared at the same time as the military flights in which magnesium flares were dropped, in the same location as the flares, and behaved and appeared exactly like those flares. Three strikes, you’re in.

  129. Gus Snarp

    @ IMForman – I figure at that age all you do is light a spark and wait. I’ve shown my son Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury lately. I don’t think he actually saw Mercury, being rather faint and all, but it’s the one he remembers most.

    I tried to get a better look at Jupiter with binoculars, and I couldn’t see any moons. But I certainly wouldn’t say you couldn’t. I’ve got a lot of light pollution. I may try my camera lens next, I think it’s got better magnification than the binoculars. I guess Jupiter is the latest UFO sighting simply because it’s very visible right now and at a time that a lot of people are still out.

  130. @Nigel Depledge in 131 where he says on October 18th, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Pete (99) said:
    Moons of Jupiter?????? LOL…. the moons of Jupiter need a high power scope to view.

    Rubbish!
    I’ve seen one of them (probably Ganymede, but I don’t know that for sure) through a cheap (we’re talking the equivalent of about US$15 – 20 here) pair of binoculars. It would only take a marginally better pair of bins to see all four of the Galilean moons. While Io And Europa are smaller than Ganymede and Callisto, they are also brighter objects.

    My 7×35 sport binoculars when tripod mounted work well for seeing all four Galilean moons. They weren’t very expensive (about $40 US). If I don’t use a tripod Jupiter and the quartet of moons seem to dance all over and I can’t really tell what I’m seeing (even though I already know).

    @Gus:

    Were you using the binoculars on a tripod? That helps tremendously. Also, the orbit’s of the moons mean the relative positions of them is always changing – maybe you got lucky and they all lined up behind or in front of the planet!

    In case anyone wants to put their binoculars on their favorite camera tripod but can’t figure out how, any astronomy retailer (Optcorp, Celestron, Orion, B&H Photo, etc.) will carry tripod adapters for binoculars.
    jbs

  131. Gus Snarp

    @John Sandlin – It didn’t seem to me that I got enough magnification out of my binoculars for a tripod to be much help. I’m going to try mounting the camera with the 200mm lens on the tripod though. Maybe tonight. I really think light pollution is my big problem though, and I’m not sure I’ve got enough magnification to overcome it. I’m pretty sure TV cameras have very powerful zooms compared to anything I’ve got.

  132. Bubba

    So, here’s a NYer chiming in…
    The few seconds they showed of Jupiter was shot in darkness. It was not visible to NYers in broad daylight. Looking at the film I was impressed by how much the TV camera could zoom in. If that film was, in fact, from a TV camera. All 4 major moons were easily visible. Very cool. As for the “UFO” sighting, that film was shot in the daylight, and clearly looked like nothing else, when the camera zoomed in, other than a bunch of white or silver balloons floating, tied together. As for Fox News, they just endlessly suck at reporting ANYTHING.

  133. Notice that it took Bubba a couple of days to respond. Clearly, he has been reached by the Evil Gummint Conspiracy™ and is now part of the official cover-up. :P

  134. Bubba

    aarrgghh!
    Curses. Foiled again! And speaking of foil, where’s that damned hat?

  135. mike burkhart

    Thats what I thought it was. The last time I commented on UFOS , I said the Air Force might be working on saucer shaped aircraft some one said corectly that the Air Force gave up on this design in the 50s. But the Air Force also was working on the flying wing at the same time , after crashes of several prototypes (due to instabity ) they gave up on the flying wing ,untill the late 1980s when the flying wing was revived as the B2 the instiably problem was solved thro advanced computer tec I think the same thing could be hapening with the saucer shaped aircraft and posably other unusal shaped aircraft that could account for many UFO reports.

  136. QuietDesperation

    I said the Air Force might be working on saucer shaped aircraft some one said corectly that the Air Force gave up on this design in the 50s.

    OR SO THEY SAY! HA! RUBE! ;-)

    But the Air Force also was working on the flying wing at the same time , after crashes of several prototypes (due to instabity ) they gave up on the flying wing ,untill the late 1980s when the flying wing was revived as the B2 the instiably problem was solved thro advanced computer tec

    I recall reading that most of the technical issues were solvable with the resources of the day. It was just that the flying wing didn’t offer any real advantage over more mainstream solutions to make the effort worth it.

    It was a beautiful thing, though. It was always a favorite of mine as a kid after it showed up in a scene in War Of The Worlds. When they rolled out the B2 I remember exclaiming “The flying wing lives!’

    Is it me or does this one have a proboscis?

  137. Mike brings up an important point:

    Popular UFO culture invariably takes its cues from other developments in engineering, science, and pop culture. In this case, the flying wings reborn as B2 bombers and F-117 stealth fighters almost immediately triggered the trend of identifying some “alien spacecraft” as “triangles.”

    As is obvious to anyone who isn’t enmeshed in their own fantasies, the few sightings of these “unknown” craft during their early test flights, before their designs were officially made public, account for the beginnings of this trend. Of course, they quickly became part of a growing and increasingly rich (ahem!) mythology invented, voluntarily or not, to fill in the vacuum that existed in the absence of any real data.

    We’ve seen this phenomenon occur over and over, from the “saucers” popular in Buck Rogers comics and other pulp fiction of the 1920s and 30s influencing early descriptions of UFO/spacecraft, to the shift in aliens from vaguely insectoid monsters to more humanoid little green men and now, the vaguely angelic “greys” and other make-believe phenotypes.

    As is typical with UFO nuttery, I find these cultural influences much more interesting than the UFO myths themselves.

  138. @ Quiet Desperation:

    That would be the rare flying elephant wing aircraft.

  139. In 142 QuietDesperation Says on October 18th, 2010 at 12:51 pm:


    Is it me or does this one have a proboscis?

    It does! Of course while flying it tucks up neatly to cover the hole the landing gear makes in the fuselage.

    jbs

  140. #99 Pete:
    “Moons of Jupiter?????? LOL…. the moons of Jupiter need a high power scope to view.”

    Huh???? Since when???? As others have already said, the Galilean satellites can be seen with any half-decent pair of binoculars, at least if they are mounted on a tripod. And as any amateur astronomer knows, they are easily visible through a 60 mm ( 2.4 inch ) refractor – even of the cheap, poor quality “department store” kind which most young kids interested in astronomy are given by their parents as their first telescope. Indeed, for most kids who begin with such a telescope, the second and third things they look at, after the Moon, are Jupiter with its satellites and Saturn. ( Yes, you can also see Saturn’s rings with such a telescope, in case you’re wondering. )
    All four Galilean satellites are in fact bright enough to be visible, in theory, to the naked eye. The only reason they are not is because they are so close to the glare of Jupiter itself. And as already stated, some people have seen them with the naked eye, by occulting Jupiter.

  141. Erik Lind

    In the story the writer seems to claim that Jupiter’s moons were in on the conspiracy.

    He obviously has never looked at the sky personally, or he would know that the moons of Jupiter are not visible to the naked eye.

  142. Erik Lind (147): I have to make sure we’re clear here: do you mean me as the writer of this story?

    Because that would be really, really, really, really funny. Really.

    Really.

  143. @Erik,

    Under the correct circumstances, apparently, there are people with exceptional visual acuity that CAN see the moons of Jupiter – but they have to hide the glare of the planet somehow. Me, I can’t see the moons without binoculars – and even then I have to have the binos on a tripod.

  144. What is it with reading comprehension these days?

  145. Nigel Depledge

    Kuhnigget (144) said:

    @ Quiet Desperation:

    That would be the rare flying elephant wing aircraft.

    Otherwise known as the Dumbo Jet.

  146. Nigel Depledge

    Brad (76) said:

    “[I’ll note that there were some reports of UFO earlier in the day, but those look just like balloons as well, probably from a different event.]”

    So you rail on Fox News (correctly) for jumping to conclusions without doing any research. Yet, you did the same thing here. Were there actually two events going on in NYC? Or could it have been something else? I’m in no way suggesting it was actual UFO’s, but “probably from a different event” is just as dangerous as what they did. Except you have less viewers.

    You fail to note the distinction here. We already know that balloons exist.

    BTW, that’s fewer viewers, not “less”. I thought that one had been sorted out back in 1970. Didn’t you see Apollo 13?

  147. Acepimp

    Ok, not that Ballons can be seen at night above anywere. also since when does Jupiter move in the night sky and how often is it that Malaysian officials and thier celebrants actually fly irrodessent balloons during the night? Keep telling yourselves wea re not alone. Its approaching soon the zero hour

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