# Mystery of Reflected Sunlight 73 Miles Away - A Man's Quest

• Skeptic Tom
In summary, the author claims that he saw a light reflection off of a bottle 73 miles away on a clear day. He asks two of his friends if they can check it out for him, and they return and say they found it. He then finds out that the reflection is from an iridium flare, and that the signal mirror is effective even in twilight.
Skeptic Tom
I read in a book about a man who saw the sun reflected off a distant object on a mountain some 73 miles away in clear visibility. He saw this on many occasions and always wondered what it could be. He states that he asked two of his friends who were going that way if they would check it out for him.

Some days later after his friends returned, then said they had no problem finding it. It turned out to be a bottle. I find this hard to believe. Surely the reflection could only be seen at a certain angle and as soon as one strays a short distance out of that angle, the reflected light from the bottle could not be seen? Not only that but by the time those looking for it had traveled a few hours, the angle of the sun would also have changed. So how on Earth could they locate a bottle on a huge mountain? When one gets to that mountain, they would have had a huge area to search. Surely they would have no way of knowing that was the source of reflected light?

The other question is, could the reflected light from a mere bottle travel 73 miles?

Skeptic Tom said:
What book is it?

Skeptic Tom said:
Surely the reflection could only be seen at a certain angle and as soon as one strays a short distance out of that angle, the reflected light from the bottle could not be seen?

Maybe because the bottle is curved, so can accommodate many different angles of incidence and reflection.

Skeptic Tom said:
The other question is, could the reflected light from a mere bottle travel 73 miles?

From atop high mountains you can see over 100 miles away. If there is a high-contrast bright spot at that distance, I think it could be noticeable.

Dougias and Skeptic Tom
The effectiveness of the signal mirror is what you are having a hard time imagining. For millennia, sailors have used them to get rescued at sea.

Better still, view iridium flares yourself. I use the android app Predisat-pro to tell me where and when to look. The app uses data from the heavens above Web site.

Skeptic Tom
Also see

[PLAIN]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliograph said:
[/PLAIN]
The record distance was established by a detachment of U.S. signal sergeants by the inter-operation of stations on Mount Ellen, Utah, and Mount Uncompahgre, Colorado, 183 miles (295 km) apart on September 17, 1894, with Signal Corps heliographs carrying mirrors only 8 inches square.

In special lighting circumstances, they can be even better. Especially when you are looking east at sunset, or west at sunrise. If you are in twilight and the mirror is on a mountain peak in sunlight, effectiveness is at its peak.

I am not an expert on vision, but I believe that our vision processing makes brief changes more noticeable than static images. Thus, the ability to resolve tiny static images is not the same as the ability to see flashes.

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Skeptic Tom
blue_leaf77 said:
What book is it?
Hi Blue Leaf 77, I am almost afraid to say...it is a book called Millennial Hospitality by Charles James Hall who claims to have met aliens while he served as a meteorologist with the US military in the 1960's. He says he is now a Nuclear Physicist. My sceptical nature likes to challenge everything and there are a number of issues in his book that don't add up. This particular question is just one. Tom.

pixel said:
Maybe because the bottle is curved, so can accommodate many different angles of incidence and reflection.
From atop high mountains you can see over 100 miles away. If there is a high-contrast bright spot at that distance, I think it could be noticeable.

Good point about the curved bottle. Thanks

anorlunda said:
Also see
In special lighting circumstances, they can be even better. Especially when you are looking east at sunset, or west at sunrise. If you are in twilight and the mirror is on a mountain peak in sunlight, effectiveness is at its peak.

I am not an expert on vision, but I believe that our vision processing makes brief changes more noticeable than static images. Thus, the ability to resolve tiny static images is not the same as the ability to see flashes.

Thanks, interesting

anorlunda said:
The effectiveness of the signal mirror is what you are having a hard time imagining. For millennia, sailors have used them to get rescued at sea.

Better still, view iridium flares yourself. I use the android app Predisat-pro to tell me where and when to look. The app uses data from the heavens above Web site.
thanks for that info

anorlunda said:
Also see
In special lighting circumstances, they can be even better. Especially when you are looking east at sunset, or west at sunrise. If you are in twilight and the mirror is on a mountain peak in sunlight, effectiveness is at its peak.

I am not an expert on vision, but I believe that our vision processing makes brief changes more noticeable than static images. Thus, the ability to resolve tiny static images is not the same as the ability to see flashes.

Excellent info, thanks

Perhaps his friends just told him it was a bottle so they didn't have to spend ages looking for it.

Skeptic Tom, blue_leaf77 and davenn
Human eyes' angular resolution is 0.0003 rad. At 73 miles distance, our eyes cannot distinguish objects within 35 meters. If he was satisfied with his friend's answer that it was just a bottle, he must have forgotten that fact.

Skeptic Tom
After the 'bottle' was found and removed, there are no further reports of the reflection, so that must have resolved the 'curiosity.' If we are to believe the story, then it was the bottle that was causing the reflection.

I live many thousands of miles away, in Ireland, and there are mountains about 25 miles from me. If I saw a reflection coming from the mountain side and got in my car to find its source, by the time I got to the foot of the mountain, I doubt if I would have a clue where to start looking, so it still seems quite improbable that the reflecting bottle could be found easily and tends to make me skeptical of this part of the bottle story.

CWatters said:
Perhaps his friends just told him it was a bottle so they didn't have to spend ages looking for it.
Yes. I would imagine it was not the first time they had to deal with his fanciful notions.
For the reflection to be bright enough in his direction, the beam width would need to have been very small. The probability of one flash from the 'bottle' is, perhaps, finite but the next day or even a minute later, the beam would no longer be aimed at the observer. The distance involved is comparable with the distance of satellites in LEO and we only see them after sunset (with a dark background and little scattered light). There are many bottle-sized facets on satellites so we could expect a constant view of sparkles from passing satellites all day. (There are thousands of the little devils up there.)
Perhaps the explanation is reflection a passing aeroplane at low altitude (coming into land, perhaps) at a nearby airfield. (Forget the bottle)

Skeptic Tom
blue_leaf77 said:
Human eyes' angular resolution is 0.0003 rad. At 73 miles distance, our eyes cannot distinguish objects within 35 meters. If he was satisfied with his friend's answer that it was just a bottle, he must have forgotten that fact.

Calculations of resolution usually deal with two close sources of equal brightness. You also have to take into account contrast. If an object is very bright, it can be noticeable despite having a very small angular extent, such as a star.

Skeptic Tom and sophiecentaur
pixel said:
Calculations of resolution usually deal with two close sources of equal brightness. You also have to take into account contrast. If an object is very bright, it can be noticeable despite having a very small angular extent, such as a star.
My point is that there can be another shiny object in the vicinity of the bottle that also contributes to the rays that impinge on the observer's eyes, apart from the bottle, without he/she being able to tell them apart. Not to mention that this other object might be much more reflective than a bottle, for example a sheet of metal.

Skeptic Tom

## 1. What is the "Mystery of Reflected Sunlight 73 Miles Away?"

The "Mystery of Reflected Sunlight 73 Miles Away" refers to a phenomenon in which sunlight appears to be reflected from a source located 73 miles away, even though there is no known reflective surface in that location.

## 2. How did the man become interested in this mystery?

The man became interested in this mystery after noticing a strange glare in the sky during a trip to the countryside. He then began to research and document the phenomenon in different locations, leading to his quest to solve the mystery.

## 3. What are some possible explanations for this mystery?

There are several theories that could potentially explain the "Mystery of Reflected Sunlight 73 Miles Away," including atmospheric conditions, optical illusions, or the reflection of light from man-made objects such as buildings or satellites.

## 4. Has the mystery been solved?

No, the mystery has not been definitively solved yet. The man's ongoing quest and research have brought attention to the phenomenon, but further investigation and analysis are needed to determine the exact cause of the reflected sunlight.

## 5. Why is this mystery important to study?

Studying this mystery can provide valuable insights into the behavior of light and the Earth's atmosphere. It can also help us better understand how our perception of light can be influenced by various factors and how we can accurately interpret and explain unusual phenomena.

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