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B Zig Zag star movement

  1. Jan 21, 2016 #1
    Hi , i would really like to have closure on a phenomenon i saw few years ago and still cannot explain.
    I myself is a science enthusiast and been studying. Ok, here it is :

    Created a rough animation of what i saw :

    View was much wider. Animation is made to reflect what i saw. Star is made bigger for better understanding ( not to scale ).

    Explaination :

    1) Saw a small star moving slowly at 830 pm .A friend noticed as well ( was sure it was a satellite but they cant be seen at night time ).

    2) Other part of the sky was having some lightning and clouds were building up.

    3) Star suddenly stopped. Did some very fast zig zag movements.

    4) Star after a pause of few seconds shoots towards the lightning , which was quiet far ( towards the horizon and star was seen just on top ).

    Location : Singapore, 2011

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2016 #2


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    I cannot exactly picture this, in its natural dimensions and distance. Was it a star or potentially some other object?
  4. Jan 21, 2016 #3
    It was supposed to be a star , but after it started moving slowly, i thought its a satellite. But then after few lightning ( at the horizon, far away ), star became unstable, and after few zig zag movements, it just went towards the lightning area very fast.
  5. Jan 21, 2016 #4

    jim mcnamara

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    Stars do not move like that. Period. It may have been the image of a star. The image of the star, if that's what it was, clearly changed on the camera after the "lightning". I cannot prove this, but it appears to me to be a hoax of some sort. Or a severe camera/optics problem.
  6. Jan 21, 2016 #5
    I've seen something similar, though it wasn't a star; it looked more like a large fuzzy orb. It was moving slowly at first, then appeared to change shape, darted back and forth, then dashed off at a far greater speed.

    Turns out it was moonlight being reflected off a large Russian rocket booster body. The reflection caused a projection of the light source to appear on some clouds, but since the rocket body was slowly tumbling, it caused the projected image to behave erratically.
  7. Jan 21, 2016 #6


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    Stars, planets, comets, meteors, satellites, etc. do not move this way. Anything more than a short distance from the observer would have to be moving insanely fast to display motion of this nature. An optical phenomenon is the likely explanation. A loose element in an optical train [e.g., camera] is the kind of thing could duplicate such motion.
  8. Jan 21, 2016 #7


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    Huh ??
    it's about the only time they can be seen

    and as others have said, nothing natural would move like that, stars, comets, asteroids, meteors, nor manmade ... planes satellites
  9. Jan 22, 2016 #8

    * It was not any kind of aircraft ( plane, kites , helicopter etc ). I have been a skywatcher and astronomy enthusiast throughout my life.and havent heard nor seen such phenomenon.

    * I know how satellites are seen , can be visible though but this case is completely different.

    * It purely looked like a star ( dot without any flickerings ). Not the brightest but surely visible to naked eye.

    * A friend of mine was watching with me and saw exactly the same thing which i have explained.
  10. Jan 22, 2016 #9
    Thats what i am saying. what i have made ( animation ) is just an idea of how it was moving.I understand the movements of comets, stars according to earth;s rotation, satellites , meteors etc but this case was very different. Nor it was any visual anomaly as my friend was witnessing the same exact thing.

    Would really like to explore the possible explanation. Thanks
  11. Jan 22, 2016 #10

    jim mcnamara

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    Your assumption that it was an external large object has to be wrong. It is some kind of observational artifact - as Chronos said. I favor Photoshop as the tool that created this. You can believe what you want, but that does not make it a real celestial body. The amount of energy required to accelerate anything with reasonable mass like that at the distance you think this occurred is VERY LARGE. Impossibly large - larger than you would ever imagine.

    For years there were sightings and reports of UFO's. A lot of them. In 2015 there are virtually none. Why? One reason is that at any given second everywhere on Earth where there are people, hundreds of thousands of cell cameras are making photos, recording movies or sound. Or are ready to record odd things as they appear. Conversely, for the same reason, if UFO's existed we would have very definitely gotten many, many pictures of them by now.

    Instead we get stuff like what you showed us.

    Why? Because there there are 4+ billion cell phones in use. It is almost always possible to find dozens of pictures(or whatever digital data) recorded in the same area of a UFO 'sighting' within a few minutes or even seconds of the incident. Which immediately refutes some bogus photograph or camera failure right away.

    The 'star' not a physical object, it is an artifact.

    Artifact means:
    a not real thing observed or misinterpreted because of fakery or because of some physical chance happening (like cosmic rays) disrupting equipment. Sometimes the very act of observing can change the properties or behaviors of the the person or object being observed. There are lots of other explanations.

    Back in the bad old days, computers often had ghosts. The 'ghosts' were things like ground plane transients or magnetic fields that scrambled computer memory. This is why large computers have some shielding and cell phones may not do well when xrayed, or exposed to a strong magnet. They were artifacts.

    There is a logical dictate usually attributed to William of Ockham - called Occam's Razor. Consider reading about it.

    Basically it means: use the simplest explanation possible. Since the observation you supplied us apparently violates all kinds of physical laws as you describe it, then it cannot be physical.

    I have nothing else to say. End of conversation.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
  12. Jan 22, 2016 #11

    Jonathan Scott

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    Last time I saw something move like that I'm fairly sure it was an insect, perhaps a large moth, much closer than I had initially thought!

    On another occasion I saw something moving oddly for a while and after fetching my binoculars concluded it was a metallic helium-filled party balloon.
  13. Jan 22, 2016 #12

    jim mcnamara

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    @Johnathan scott - Your bug explanation appears to explain this one too. Good point.
  14. Jan 24, 2016 #13


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    Light reflected from the posterior of a duck is another traditional explanation for this sort of UFO observation.
  15. Jan 25, 2016 #14
    I don't think anything above the atmosphere could have caused what you saw. Others above have mentioned the reasons i would think of.

    However, I saw something similar years ago. It came even back for several days. It could not fathom what it was untill one evening during a ground fogg just thick enough to obscure most stars. Even then, i saw it. That time i saw it as a moving light apparently just ahead and above me - seemingly really close.
    I figured out that it had to be the reflection of a light feature near a new dance-hall opening more than 15 km away. The winter atmosferic conditions were just right to reflect it on a, mostly transparant, high cloud layer. The day i figured out what it was, the reflection hit the fog layer from above and it broadened out.

    Are you sure there was no idiot aboard a ship playing with a laser or so ? After all, is thit not akin to what they do with earth based adaptive telescopes? To create an apparent star by lasering light skyward and then measering the caracteristics of the reflected light ? So that creates an apparent star. If you shake it at the base it would seem to move fast. Something along those lines might be the case in what you observed.

    If that is not the explanation you have to consider a much closer source. A slow nearby movement may look like afast movement at a great distance.
    Then something biological is perhaps the answer BUT I have no knowledge of ducks doing that kind of motion. Bats or insects make quirky movements while hunting or being hunted but nightime, flying insects don't generally advertise their presence that way or - if the do - they swarm. I know of no reflecting bats. Perhaps consult with a local biologist ?
  16. Jan 25, 2016 #15
    On a similar note to what I saw -- the Iridium satellites are a very great distance from Earth and are highly reflective, resulting in several extraordinarily bright "iridium flares" being visible from any given point on Earth each day when the angle lines up just right to directly reflect sunlight at a point on the surface.

    Several times I've been satellite-watching and seen an object which appeared to grow dimmer and brighter with a regular frequency; after looking it up, I found it was an errant satellite which had developed a tumble during orbital insertion. The tumbling motion caused its albedo as viewed from my position to change on a regular frequency.

    If there was even a very slight diffuse fog or cloud layer on the night in question, the chance of a satellite reflection producing a projection on the cloud bank is quite good.
  17. Jan 25, 2016 #16


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    Jim, twice you have indicated that you assume this was observed through some camera, recording, or a display. The OP said nothing about this.
    My impression is that the OP, and his/her colleague, observed the phenomenon directly, by naked eye (and of course this also explains why they couldn't simply rewind whatever it was the assume they were watching).
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
  18. Jan 25, 2016 #17


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    Faisal, my first, best hypothesis is saccades - normal, constant, involuntary eye movements that occur all the time. They are imperceptible. In this case, they might be related to the lightning in your peripheral vision, for both you and your colleague.

    I've experienced this myself when stagazing.

    Without reference points within your foveal vision, you can't tell that the image in your field of view has moved. Especially true if the lightning flash momentarily wipes out your night vision (making nearby reference stars briefly vanish). So what happens is your eyes jiggle, and you think it's the object that did the jiggling.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
  19. Jan 25, 2016 #18

    jim mcnamara

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  20. Jan 26, 2016 #19


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    yes, but they DONT zig-zag across the sky !

    this is an iridium satellite flare
    iridium flr.jpg

    it can be very difficult to tell the difference between a iridium flare and a meteor sometimes
    generally the meteors are a bit faster

  21. Jan 26, 2016 #20
    The flare from an iridium satellite would potentially be able to project a bright spot onto a thin overlying cloud layer, and that spot could jump around pretty erratically.

    The other possibility would be a large meteor that entered at an odd angle, then broke up.
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