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UFO sighted over Washington DC

  1. Feb 13, 2005 #1
    Well here is an interesting one! The claim is that a web cam from one of the national parks caught this live and it was sent over the web and confirmed. This is from a sight called IntelDesk.com. Here is the link and a snippet:

    http://www.mediavillage.net/test/index.php?module=ContentExpress&func=display&ceid=12

    It's a neat picture but I am unable to see if it was 'doctored' or not. Maybe this is a ploy to generate traffic for the site, which is not beyond reason.
     
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  3. Feb 13, 2005 #2

    russ_watters

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    Actually, it looks very much like a plane to me - the long exposure would streak the cabin lights and the wingtip lights and strobes would still show up as points.
     
  4. Feb 13, 2005 #3
    There is only one shortcoming with that arguement, apparently that is restricted airspace, but I am unable to confirm or deny that at the moment. So what is it? I don't know but I'm still thinking it is a lure to get site traffic. Stranger things have been done to lure people to specific sites, so...?
     
  5. Feb 13, 2005 #4

    Alkatran

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    and yet, no reports of people seeing a huge disc in the sky? Odd.

    It looks very much like the object is created by the exposure time.
     
  6. Feb 13, 2005 #5

    There is still the question of airspace restriction. Also, if it is a time exposure of a plane then there would be others like it somewhere in a database containing the photos from this webcam, assumuing one is kept.

    But then again, if this was a known aspect of this cam then the conjecture for site traffic increase may be an affirmative! Hmmmmmm?
     
  7. Feb 13, 2005 #6

    russ_watters

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    There is a major airport very nearby and the landing pattern takes planes over that area. That can't be changed without moving the runway. In fact, an airliner once came up short and crashed into one of those bridges over the Potomac river.

    I don't know if this MSN MAP works as a link, but you can see how close the arport is to the city, and how the runway is lined up. The end of the runway is only about 2 miles from the Capital Mall, but it may be possible to run the pattern over the river, turning in a mile from the airport (either way, the planes have to fly through the line of sight of the webcam).

    The bridge in the pic is the little one that goes from Arlington Cemetary to the Mall - the bridge the plane crashed into is the next one to the south.

    edit: I hadn't checked the map before my last post - checking the map has convinced me beyond any doubt that its a plane, exactly where you would expect it to be.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2005
  8. Feb 13, 2005 #7

    Moonbear

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    One thing worth noting is that you're not seeing exposure trails on the car headlights. If you look at the images from daytime, you don't see blurred cars. Instead, what you're seeing is just the distance ahead of the cars that is illuminated by the headlights.

    From the National Parks site that the web cam is on, there's approximately a 16 mile visible range on that camera. The no fly zone is a 15 mile radius and 18,000 ft altitude from the Washington Monument (my thanks to Google). I happen to have no sense of depth when looking at a photograph, especially in a section of the photo containing only sky, to tell where that streak is in terms of distance from the camera to know if it's possible to be a plane out beyond the no-fly zone. I'm not sure what approach is taken for the area airports (the camera is facing east, and the streak appears to be somewhat northeast). Reagan National airport would be south of the city (located within the no-fly zone), not northeast, but planes could be circling around to make an approach. If so, you wouldn't see the plane in the photo, just the lights, and it might be close enough to be switching on the bright headlights (or landing lights, or whatever those lights are called on planes that get turned on to approach a runway). Where's the airforce base relative to the direction of this photo?

    I wonder if it's also possible that something caused a strange reflection on the camera lens that has nothing to do with anything being in the sky.

    Edit: Russ beat me to it RE: nearby airport.
    BTW, here's the site with the webcam. http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/WebCams/parks/nacccam/washcam.htm Those screen shots on the "UFO" site are fishy since they don't show what you actually see when you visit the site.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2005
  9. Feb 14, 2005 #8
    Actually, it is a strip of lights from by the waters edge, caught upside down in some random reflection. If you look directly below the "UFO", you will see the same three lights in the image, only upside down. I could make this image, in under 5 minutes.
     
  10. Feb 14, 2005 #9
  11. Feb 14, 2005 #10

    enigma

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    That trail is heading towards Andrews AFB which is to the east of the city (toward the capital building in the distance). It also appears that the trail is to the north of the mall (the area between the monument and the capital), which is not restricted airspace. Regardless, if it were a military aircraft, the restricted airspace argument is a moot point, since they don't follow civilian FAA rules.
     
  12. Feb 14, 2005 #11

    chroot

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    The "restricted flight" argument is not relevant -- there are no physical boundaries in the sky, and pilots, being human, occassionally make mistakes and fly into airspace in which they don't belong. As long as the pilot is in communication with ATC and is cooperating with instructions, there's no reason for the military to enforce the no-fly restriction with F-18s or surface-to-air missiles or what-have-you.

    And, as enigma says, military aircraft do not have to obey the FAA restrictions in any way, shape, or form.

    Bottom line: no-fly zones are not necessarily aircraft-free zones.

    - Warren
     
  13. Feb 14, 2005 #12

    Moonbear

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    That's what I suspected, but wasn't completely certain where the AFB was relative to the direction of the photo. Of course, even if it was another pilot who strayed into restricted airspace, the webcam only captures an image once every 15 min to half hour, so the entire incident would have been over by the time the next photo was taken. Considering a jet approaching an airforce base would be moving considerably faster than the cars on the ground, that helps explain why it appears as more of a streak than the cars do.

    What I find amusing is that people who believe aliens are coming in to watch us and don't want their presence known would think they'd fly close to the ground in their flying saucer with all the lights blazing!
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2005
  14. Feb 14, 2005 #13
    The site has posted a picture of an airliner in the camera shot, so that elimantes the restricted airpsace conjecture.
    Here is the link!

    By inference we also may be able to elimante the 'streaker':rofl: airline conjecture. But just to be more thurough, some quick calculations can be made to confirm or deny this conjecture. By finding the speed limit of the road on the shot we can determine an approximate exposure time for the shot. The timing period of the lights of the plane would have to be found, which is regulated by the FAA for civilian and military aircraft. Finally a speed for the said plane would have to be estimated. From there it may be determined if that is a fit. Though I have my doubts now.

    Moonbear, I agree with the idea that if aliens came here why would they just hang out and watch like intergalatic voyers. You would think they would be smart enough to hide. :uhh: Hey maybe they had a SEP field around them from which the webcam was immune! :rofl: Myself, I would be scared to death of going anywhere near the monkey-hives that populate this planet. :surprised

    Dayle, not bad! If this was a hack job, then someone would have had to hack the site where this cam is and then replace cam shot with the doctored photo. Personally I think this is all a ploy to 'advertise' the IntelDesk website, which something like that picture would be a great lure to get an expose' of the site. Stranger things have been done to generate traffic. From Alexa, I found a little data which supports the conjecture of a lure:
    Here is the link to Alexa data.

    Here is a link to an analysis and discussion about the photo at the IntelDesk website.

    So are there any other thoughts?
     
  15. Feb 14, 2005 #14

    chroot

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    I'm a pilot. I don't have a copy of the FAR/AIM in front of me, but the white strobes on every plane I've ever flown flash once per second. The red beacon lights slowly turn off and on with a period of about two seconds.

    The FAA imposes a speed limit of 250 knots indiciated airspeed for all aircraft under 10,000 ft. relative to mean sea level. Airliner-class aircraft typically land at about 130-150 knots, but this can vary siginificantly due to conditions and aircraft specifics.

    - Warren
     
  16. Feb 14, 2005 #15
    Again, I just think that it is artifact, or reflection upside down, of the lights just below along the water edge. Perhaps there was a water droplet, so the image flipped, and since the camera is a long range version, the streak stayed long. Visually it is too much like the three lights along the waters edge, to not be some version of them. The symmetry is too good. I work on photos day in and day out, it could be the strobe on a helicopter, or something like that, and the motion reads like a streak, and the strobe flashess go 1-2-3. In fact there is kind of a discontinuity in the middle light, that might be a blade passing. Still the long body of the image, would be the pentagon, upside down, we would just be seeing the reflected light from it, with the water front lights being brightest.
     
  17. Feb 14, 2005 #16

    russ_watters

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    I still think it's Reagan National (polyb's daytime pics are of a DC-9, which still could be military though) - its only about 2 or 3 miles from where that plane is located - and judging by the angle and an assumed distance from the camera (over the river or just over land on the other side), its at the height I would expect - 500 feet or so and lined up with the main runway. Andrews is on the same line, but another 10 miles away and the runway is oriented in a different direction.
    I don't think so - night time requires longer exposures and digital cameras are nowhere near as good as film cameras (webcams if left to themselves will adjust automatically). The exposure could easily be 1/4 to 1/2 second. Also, it looks to me like you can see both the headlights as streaks and the illuminated road in front of them.
     
  18. Feb 14, 2005 #17
    Wow, your a pilot! What do you fly?

    Those were some of the details that would be relevent. I remember from ground school(I never went beyond that because of cash constraints) that the flash period was about a second or two. It seems to me that by judging from the photo the exposure time could not have been longer than a second. There is also a question about the tail fin and light, where is it?

    Of course the next question would have to be about how to gauge how far away the object is and so on. I have doubts about the streaker! :rofl: I think it is a hoax to get the site an expose'. It really is not that bad of a site and it seems to have a lot of news links and etc. on it.
     
  19. Feb 14, 2005 #18

    chroot

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    I'm just a lowly private, just beginning work on my IFR rating. I mostly fly Cessna 172's and 182's -- the good ol' dumptrucks of the sky.

    - Warren
     
  20. Feb 14, 2005 #19

    Moonbear

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    Yeah, if it's coming in over the Potomac, it's probably headed for Reagan National. That plane is already pretty low and close to the position of the camera (you can see pretty good details on the plane despite the hazy, rainy conditions). A commercial flight also makes more sense given that all the cabin lights must have been on. As commercial flights are preparing to land, since 9/11, you must have the cabin lights on and window shades up.

    I hadn't considered the camera would adjust automatically. Since the image mostly included lights and brightly lit buildings, and very little could be seen where there wasn't bright lighting, I didn't think the exposure time would need to be that high to capture that image. But, I'm not really much of a photographer, so don't have experience with night time photos.

    A little of each sounds good to me. :biggrin:
     
  21. Feb 14, 2005 #20
    Ya but they sure are fun! :biggrin: The IFR rating written test should not be too bad, it's just the hooded flight test! :surprised
     
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