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Zig Zag Path of Low Earth Orbiting Objects

  1. Aug 22, 2014 #1
    This is my first posting, so forgive me for any errors I am making.

    A quick review of topics in the past shows that my question has been touched on in the past, but was not (in my opinion) given any serious attention or consideration.

    Over the past 5 years or so, I have witnessed (almost on a daily basis) satellite like objects make a journey across the early morning sky. This is not unusual at all since there are a good number of satellites (old and new) that appear in the sky – observable around 6:00 AM CT (I live in Oklahoma).

    What makes these objects stand out is the erratic movements they make as they traverse the night sky, reflecting the sunlight.

    Path: various, but often south to north, north to south, or south west to northeasterly. The path may begin in one direction but may change in a slow arc, or may change in a series of rather rapid zig zag moves, or even change when the object either slows to a near standstill or a complete halt and then moves in a different direction altogether. Movements can be quick or slow.

    Observable time: as with satellites, the time of visual unaided sight can be about 1 to 2 minutes before the sunlight no longer reflects sufficiently for unaided viewing.

    Please be aware that I have read the J Allen Hynek style responses of latter posts that resemble the cold war era project blue book days. I hope I don’t get similar responses on this posting as it would be viewed as an insult to my intelligence and a sign that genuine scientific inquisitiveness is not being pursued.

    We now know there are high altitude drones being used by the military. We also know that dark military projects exist that focus on propulsion systems and their rumored antigravity experiments.

    My question is have any readers have spent time capturing any of these objects on film for amateur or professional analysis?

    A number of people in intelligence suspect that we do indeed have advanced propulsion systems that are being used on a regular but very limited basis for covert missions.

    Are there any Snowdens out there with any serious credentials or experience or work related projects that would be willing to “spill the beans” or comment?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2014 #2


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    Welcome to PF! Several things:

    1. It is impossible to determine the distance to a point source of light with an unknown absolute brightness.

    2. Satellites don't zigzag.

    3. I suspect you are seeing aircraft. I would try to verify with binoculars or check commercial flight patterns. Military aircraft would not have publicly available flight patterns but may still be in commercial corridors.

    4. Please be aware that this is a serious science forum with high intellectual discussion quality standards. We don't do conspiracy theory or speculative science.
  4. Aug 22, 2014 #3
    1.Absolute brightness is roughly the same as the polar satellite
    2. Brilliant observation - satellites DON'T zigzag and that is my point ... so what the heck are these things
    3. NOT aircraft. Yes I have looked with a small power telescope. Plus, I've already cross-checked with http://www.flightradar24.com, and used Stellarium to see if they were known satellites.
    4. Your statement is intended to be dismissive and infers that I'm a conspiratorial idiot ... very much not appreciated

    Anyone else out there care to comment?
  5. Aug 22, 2014 #4


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    I think you misunderstand: absolute brightness is how much light the object gives off, not how much we receive. My point was that you can't judge the distance based on your perception of brightness alone - so you can't know how high the objects are (if they are at orbital altitudes).
    Showing attitude right off the bat is not a good start. The title of your thread is self contradictory. I don't know whether you were aware or not, but either way it needed to be pointed out.
    What power telescope? Small military aircraft could be hard to identify even with a small telescope. Did you see anything besides point sources of light?
    No, my statement was a matter-of-fact reminder of the rules you agreed to follow when you signed up, to stop you from going down a road we don't allow. Again: you'll do better here if you drop the attitude.
  6. Aug 22, 2014 #5


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    Clark, I understand where you are coming from in being put off but as Russ said, his statements were just facts. This is a serious science forum and as you are a first-time poster, we have no way of knowing whether or not you are a crackpot except by the content of your post and I think if you can put aside your feelings for a moment and look at your post objectively, you'll see that it is very much open to the interpretation that you are here to engage in a crackpot discussion. Glad to hear you're not.
  7. Aug 22, 2014 #6


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    I don't think the phenomenon Clark Hay are referring to are at all unusual. I've also seen them threes time and I very rarely look at the night sky (not much point if you live in London), the last time was just three weeks ago while on holiday in Canada.
    Anyway, I've always assumed that there was some very mundane explanation and I do remember discussing this with a astronomer some 15 years ago or so. At the time I was taking a short astronomy course, and as part of the course we had to spend some time observing the night sky and during one of those trips I saw the same phenomenon (this was in Sweden). I remember asking about the lecturer and I also remember his saying that it was quite common, but unfortunately I can't remember his explanation:redface:

    It is definitely not aircraft or satellites (way too erratic). When I first saw this I assumed it was something falling (space junk or a meteorite) but the aerodynamics would have to be quite strange for it to move around like this (although I guess it is possible if it is breaking apart). It could of course also be an optical phenomenon but I have no idea what the cause would be (the first time I was with other people who could also see it , so I don't think it was due to floaters or anything to do with my eyes)

    I have tried to use google to find explanation online , but whenever you google this you get lots of hits but most of them are crackpot/UFO sites.

    Edit: I believe one possible explanation for many of these observations is that someone with a reasonably strong laser is aiming it a low lying cloud, but I don't think this could explain what I was seeing in Canada (although it is possible)
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  8. Aug 22, 2014 #7
    Thanks for the responses.

    Sorry to be so defensive, but I get tired of being dismissed out of hand.

    My title IS self contradictory, but it was hard to choose a working title in the few minutes I had to post.

    My telescope is 75 power and fast moving objects are very hard to track by hand. Binoculars that I have simply are too weak. Object appears to be a dot ... but at 62 years of age my hands tremble too much for a steady view.

    One reason I chose to use the word "satellite" was because these objects occur with some regularity at roughly the same time in the morning. I've observed a number of satellites in the past, but these objects have me puzzled. The zigzag movements almost appear to be "evasive" movements. So I am bewildered an was wondering if anyone else has observed or tracked such objects ... From prior posts it appears some have, but the discussion was not very intelligent.

    I would be satisfied to discover that my older eyes were simply wobbly or that atmospheric conditions made things appear to rapidly shift or wobble. And that MAY be the case except that other satellites do not appear to make these same movements.

    Also I know that experimental research into things like the Casimir Effect (and other related physics experiments) are often shrouded by dark project protocols and a need to know basis. Having looked into a firm where an ex-wife used to work (for Jack Parson's) I know there is a lot of work being done for the DoD that is simply not accessible to the public ... but the rumors are persistent.

    I am merely curious, not conspiratorial. Propulsion techniques such as those exhibited by Aurora are perhaps just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to DoD work.

    The physics is what fascinates me.

    So, my offer still stands ... anyone out there care to comments on propulsion techniques or theories that may (or may not) be in current testing? If not then I'll go elsewhere.

    Just trying to unravel what appears to be the rather impossible physics I THINK I have observed on many occasions.

  9. Aug 22, 2014 #8

    jim hardy

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    I have to settle for what i can read that appears not crackpot hype.

    A lot of relatively unknown stuff goes on in that line between night and day.



    who knows what's up there.

    Military has to follow civilian flight rules only when in civilian airspace.
    Were i a twenty-something driving a supersonic airplane capable of >100,000 feet it'd be tempting to pull some highjinks.

    1950's sightings are attributed to SR71 spyplane, now retired. What replaced it ?
  10. Aug 22, 2014 #9
    Below are a number of articles that MAY discuss related Physics. Pity that most of this info is not only over my head but requires a purchase price that I cannot afford.

    Anyone had much experience with these studies to break down the possible physics that might be involved (and do so without as much technical jargon)?

    Mass of asymptotically anti-de Sitter hairy spacetimes
    Andres Anabalon, Dumitru Astefanesei, Cristian Martinez
    (Submitted on 11 Jul 2014)
    In the standard asymptotic expansion of four dimensional static asymptotically flat spacetimes, the coefficient of the first subleading term of the lapse function can be identified with the mass of the spacetime. Using the Hamiltonian formalism we show that, in asymptotically locally anti-de Sitter spacetimes endowed with a scalar field, the mass can read off in the same way only when the boundary conditions are compatible with the asymptotic realization of the anti-de Sitter symmetry. In particular, this implies that some prescriptions for computing the mass of a hairy spacetime are not suitable when the scalar field breaks the asymptotic anti-de Sitter invariance.

    Journeys through antigravity?
    John Joseph M. Carrasco, Wissam Chemissany and Renata Kallosh
    Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics and Department of Physics, Stanford University,
    January 23, 2014
    A possibility of journeys through antigravity has recently been proposed, with the suggestion that Weyl-invariant extension of scalars coupled to Einstein gravity allows for an unambiguous classical evolution through cosmological singularities in anisotropic spacetimes. We compute the Weyl invariant curvature squared and find that it blows up for the proposed anisotropic solution both at the Big Crunch as well as at the Big Bang. Therefore the cosmological singularities are not resolved by uplifting Einstein theory to a Weyl invariant model

    Cosmological Perturbations in Antigravity
    Marius Oltean, Robert Brandenberger
    (Submitted on 27 Jun 2014 (v1), last revised 28 Jul 2014 (this version, v2))
    We compute the evolution of cosmological perturbations in a recently proposed Weyl-symmetric theory of two scalar fields with oppositely-signed conformal couplings to Einstein gravity. It is motivated from the minimal conformal extension of the Standard Model, such that one of these scalar fields is the Higgs while the other is a new particle, the dilaton, introduced to make the Higgs mass conformally symmetric. At the background level, the theory admits novel geodesically-complete cyclic cosmological solutions characterized by a brief period of repulsive gravity, or "antigravity", during each successive transition from a Big Crunch to a Big Bang. We show that despite the necessarily wrong-signed kinetic term of the dilaton in the full action, its cosmological solutions are stable at the perturbative level.

    Quantum Entanglement: Where Dark Energy and Negative Gravity plus Accelerated Expansion of the Universe Comes from
    Journal of Quantum Information Science
    Vol.3 No.2(2013), Article ID:32831,21 pages DOI:10.4236/jqis.2013.32011
    Mohamed S. El Naschie
    Department of Physics, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt
    Dark energy is shown to be the absolute value of the negative kinetic energy of the halo-like quantum wave modeled mathematically by the empty set in a five dimensional Kaluza-Klein (K-K) spacetime. Ordinary or position energy of the particle on the other hand is the dual of dark energy and is contained in the dynamic of the quantum particle modeled by the zero set in the same five dimensional K-K spacetime. The sum of both dark energy of the wave and the ordinary energy of the particle is exactly equal to the energy given by the well known formula of Einstein which is set in a four dimensional spacetime. Various interpretations of the results are presented and discussed based on the three fundamental energy density equations developed. In particular where E is the energy, m is the mass and c is the speed of light, is Hardy’s quantum entanglement and gives results in complete agreement with the cosmological measurements of WMAP and Supernova. On the other hand gives an intuitive explanation of negative gravity and the observed increased rate of cosmic expansion. Adding to one finds which as we mentioned above is Einstein’s famous relativity formula. We conclude that similar to the fact that the quantum wave interpreted generally as probability wave which is devoid of ordinary energy decides upon the location of a quantum particle, it also exerts a negative gravity effect on the cosmic scale of our clopen, i.e. closed and open universe.

    Or his work entitled: Pinched Material Einstein Space-Time Produces Accelerated Cosmic Expansion

    Mapping pure gravity to strings in three-dimensional anti-de Sitter geometry
    Bo Sundborg
    (Submitted on 31 May 2013)
    Strings propagating in three-dimensional anti-de Sitter space with a background antisymmetric tensor field are well understood, even at the quantum level. Pure three-dimensional gravity with a negative cosmological constant is potentially important because of the existence of black hole solutions and an asymptotic conformal symmetry, but it is mysterious and surprisingly resistant to analysis. In this letter, the two theories are related by a map on the classical level. The map is obtained by gauge fixing the string completely, like in a light cone gauge, and comparing the resulting constrained theory with the boundary theory obtained from gravity by imposing the appropriate asymptotic boundary conditions. The two theories are formally related as different gauge fixings of the same gauge theory.

    Instabilities and (anti)-evaporation of Schwarzschild–de Sitter black holes in modified gravity
    Phys. Rev. D 88, 104022 – Published 20 November 2013
    L. Sebastiani, D. Momeni, R. Myrzakulov, and S. D. Odintsov
    We investigate the future evolution of the Nariai black hole, which is the extremal limit of the Schwarzschild–de Sitter one in modified gravity. The perturbation equations around the Nariai black hole are derived in static and cosmological patches for general F(R) gravity. The analytical and numerical study of several realistic F(R) models shows the occurrence of a rich variety of scenarios: instabilities, celebrated Hawking evaporation, and anti-evaporation of black holes. The realization of a specific scenario depends on the model under consideration. It is remarkable that the presence of such primordial black holes in the current Universe may indicate modified gravity, which supports the anti-evaporation as the preferable model. As a generalization, we extend the study of the Nariai black hole evolution to modified Gauss-Bonnet gravity. The corresponding perturbation equations turn out to be much more complicated than in the case of F(R) gravity. For a specific example of modified Gauss-Bonnet gravity, we demonstrate that the Nariai solution may be stable.

    Accelerating cosmology in modified gravity: From convenient F(R) or string-inspired theory to bimetric F(R) gravity
    Shin'ichi Nojiri
    Department of Physics, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan
    Kobayashi-Maskawa Institute for the Origin of Particles and the Universe, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan
    Sergei D. Odintsov
    Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Institut de Ciencies de l'Espai (ICE), (CSIC-IEEC), Campus UAB, Torre C5-Parell-2a Pl, E-08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
    Instituciò Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain
    Tomsk State Pedagogical University, Tomsk 634061, Russia
    Published: 27 January 2014
    We consider modified gravity which may describe the early-time inflation and/or late-time cosmic acceleration of the universe. In particular, we discuss the properties of F(R), F(G), string-inspired and scalar-Einstein–Gauss–Bonnet gravities, including their FRW equations and fluid or scalar-tensor description. Simplest accelerating cosmologies are investigated and possibility of unified description of the inflation with dark energy is described. The cosmological reconstruction program which permits to get the requested universe evolution from modified gravity is developed. As some extension, massive F(R) bigravity which is ghost-free theory is presented. Its scalar-tensor form turns out to be the easiest formulation. The cosmological reconstruction method for such bigravity is presented. The unified description of inflation with dark energy in F(R) bigravity turns out to be possible.

    Anti–de Sitter holography for gravity and higher spin theories in two dimensions
    Phys. Rev. D 89, 044001 – Published 5 February 2014
    Daniel Grumiller, Mauricio Leston, and Dmitri Vassilevich
    We provide a holographic description of two-dimensional dilaton gravity with anti–de Sitter boundary conditions. We find that the asymptotic symmetry algebra consists of a single copy of the Virasoro algebra with nonvanishing central charge and point out difficulties with the standard canonical treatment. We generalize our results to higher spin theories and thus provide the first examples of two-dimensional higher spin gravity with holographic description. For spin-3 gravity we find that the asymptotic symmetry algebra is a single copy of the W3 algebra.

    Circular geodesics of naked singularities in the Kehagias-Sfetsos metric of Hořava's gravity
    Ronaldo S. S. Vieira, Jan Schee, W\lodek Kluźniak, Zdeněk Stuchlík, Marek Abramowicz
    (Submitted on 22 Nov 2013)
    We discuss photon and test-particle orbits in the Kehagias-Sfetsos (KS) metric. For any value of the Ho\v{r}ava parameter ω, there are values of the gravitational mass M for which the metric describes a naked singularity, and this is always accompanied by a vacuum "antigravity sphere" on whose surface a test particle can remain at rest (in a zero angular momentum geodesic), and inside which no circular geodesics exist. The observational appearance of an accreting KS naked singularity in a binary system would be that of a quasi-static spherical fluid shell surrounded by an accretion disk, whose properties depend on the value of M, but are always very different from accretion disks familiar from the Kerr-metric solutions. The properties of the corresponding circular orbits are qualitatively similar to those of the Reissner-Nordstr\"om naked singularities. When event horizons are present, the orbits outside the Kehagias-Sfetsos black hole are qualitatively similar to those of the Schwarzschild metric.
  11. Aug 22, 2014 #10
    While that may (or may not) explain what you have seen, the skies here in Oklahoma have been cloud free for me, so lasers really do not match what I believe I have seen.

    I suspect military drones, but that is entirely speculative on my part.

    The physics, however over my head they might be, is what I'd like to focus on that MIGHT help explain how such maneuvers might be possible.

    When something apparently boarders the edge of space, and traveling at high speed, suddenly stops (within 2 seconds), remains motionless for 3 or 4 more seconds and then resume flight in a different direction it leaves me breathless. Theoretically it is not out of the realm of possibility, but if my observations are correct then it would seem someone has gone well beyond the theoretical.

    As the kids today put it: "Just sayin'"
  12. Aug 22, 2014 #11


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    I very much doubt drones or any other "secret" military project is the answer. Firstly, why would they be flying around erratically? Secondly, these lights have been observed all over the world (in my case Sweden and Canada) and for a long time; I don't think the DoD were testing secret drones in the north of Sweden 15 years ago.

    I suspect there is a very mundane explanation. Alternatively, it could be related to some well (known but so far unexplained) phenomena such as ball lightning.
  13. Aug 22, 2014 #12
    Dear OP:

    Why don't you attempt to record this phenomina you're seeing? You claim this is highly reproducible, you claim you want to understand this from a serious scientific approach, but you offer nothing except eyewitness testimony. Get a DSLR, aim it in a direction you expect to see these, and take some long exposure photographs that will show the path of the object(s).

    I have been looking at the night sky for years, and I'm damn good with a telescope. I've tracked the ISS by hand many times, and can quite easily identify satellites from aeroplanes or other objects. The most reasonable explantion I can offer you, is that you're seeing the underbelly of birds.

    In the early morning sky, before the sun has cleared the horizon but the sky is beginning to brighten, the white belly of certain birds can reflect quite a bit of light. Depending on the coloration, sometimes their wings are not as visible, and if they are flying at several hundred feet, they may appear as just a dot to the less than trained eye. This would explain the erratic behaviour you describe. I have been fooled by a bird once or twice, thinking I was seeing something odd but then realized what it was. I have seen all kinds of "strange" distant objects which at first can be very dissorientating, but from hot air balloons to kites I've always managed to identify them as something perfectly normal without having to resort to fantastic military contraptions or bizare atmospheric phenomina.

    And as someone who has volunteered dozens of times at observatories, showing people from the public the night sky, I can tell you just how easily people are fooled by even ordinary phenomina. I've had people lose track of a satellite that was easily stil visibile and exclaim "It dissapeared!", I've had people see the streak of a meteor go by and think they just saw a UFO, I've had people watch the ISS glide across the sky and think it's moving in circles... the point is, if you're not very familiar with the night sky, you shouldn't trust your perception of how things move up there.

    I'm sorry, but if you "rarely look at the night sky", this only makes your testimony worth less, not more. You are essentially saying that you are somebody who is unfamiliar with the night sky and the kinds of events which occur there, but then making a strong claim about some fantastic kind of event which you've seen, and not questioning at all your ability to accurately recall or interpret what you've seen. You don't see a problem here?

    That sounds within the realm of plausibility, but they would have to be quite nearby, and you would likely see the beam of the laser in the sky as well, especially since most clouds do not have a well defined surface.
  14. Aug 22, 2014 #13
    I will see if any of my friends have a high quality DSLR. I do not. Like so many YouTube videos, I'm afraid that the results will be dismal or prone to be labled faked. But you have a good point about recording the time/date/path.

    This, of course, puts the burden of proof on me. Which is understandable, but I was hoping someone else had done that work for me. ... Guess not, but then this thread is still very young.

    As for it being birds, I have see high flying birds before, and weather balloons half in sunlight and half out, and meteors, and once saw what I suspect was a brief instance of ball lightning. I'm of the opinion that none of the above (nor swamp gas or temperature inversions) explain it.

    You may be right ... As I said, I don't have a DSLR and so we'll all have to wait on that.

    I'm holding my breath right now - hoping that someone else will save me the time and effort.

    As for the post ruling out military drones, there is some anecdotal evidence that automated surveillance drones do exist and have both pre-programmed avoidance algorithms as well as being able to be directed to locations by ground crews to survey possible areas of interest threats and conflict.

    I should be sleeping now since I work a 12 hour graveyard shift. But the feedback is very encouraging.
  15. Aug 22, 2014 #14


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    No, what I am saying that I DO NOT think it is something fantastic; and I am certainly not saying that it represents some new type of physics. Again, the explanation is probably something
    mundane/silly but I just haven't been able to figure out what it is. The only "exotic" physical explanation I've considered for some of these observations (not only mine) would be something akin to a ball lightning, mainly because the behavior is quite consistent with reported observations of said phenomena.

    The bird (or I guess even a very large insect) explanation might actually work quite well for what I saw in Canada this summer, it was at about 11pm so it was quite dark but it is possible that there was still enough light that this could explain it. It was also somewhat cloudy so I guess a strong source of light could have been reflected off a cloud. In this instance I can also not completely rule out that the light had to do with something in my eyes since I was the only one who saw the light; although I don't understand how that could manifest itself as something happening in a particular part of the sky.

    The observation is Sweden was a bit different in that I was not the only one who saw it, it was a clear night with no visible clouds (we could see lots of stars). A bird or something similar might still be reasonable explanation, but as far as I remember it was very dark (again, we could see lots of stars and we weren't using binoculars or telescope).
  16. Aug 22, 2014 #15
  17. Aug 22, 2014 #16

    jim hardy

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    Might be worth a look at aero chart to find what's nearby.

    Some pilots zigzag between "radio aids to navigation", usually "VOR"

    see symbols upper left of this chart.. VOR is a blue compass rose with transmitter at its center.


    drag the map around until an upper right link says "Wichita" , click that then drag down and zoom in on Oklahoma.

    I hope you post some photos.
  18. Aug 22, 2014 #17
  19. Aug 22, 2014 #18
    Yes, I do. Which is why I am suggesting advanced physics to explain it (see the abstracts I posted earlier) ... and why I chose to post this in a physics forum.

  20. Aug 22, 2014 #19
    Most of those are studies in cosmology with no reference to how they may be applied to any practical application. Let alone controlled and utilized for craft movement. The abstracts also don't speak to the energy involved in any of this. I suspect creating mini black holes and the like would require lots of energy.

    Why do you cite these papers? What implications do you find from their research which leads you to believe they are at all relevant to your question?
  21. Aug 22, 2014 #20
    Travis - Those studies were merely gathered from a quick search in Google scholar (scholar.google.com) using the phrase "anti-gravity". My point being was that concepts involving anti-gravity are still being discussed from a number of angles (cosmological and otherwise).

    I've run across work by Bernhard Haisch/Hal Puthoff along the lines of Andrei Sakharov, quantum theory, black holes, etc. But have not taken time to find current research and would probably not understand it if I did. Which is why I am turning to you guys for some possible answers or theories or current research that might explain what I've observed - assuming that my observations might be accurate.

    AS I've tied to make clear, while I am no physicist I am interested in learning what manner of physics might overcome the mass/gravity issues that would make a change in orbital direction possible.

    Thanks for responding
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