Lights in the sky

March 20th, 2009

FInally, I get to see the stars the way I remember them as a kid! Since we hit Texas a while back, we’ve been treated to some great night skies. You’ve really got to get away from the cities these days to enjoy the stars. The last couple of nights, outside of Quartzsite, AZ I’ve seen quite a few falling stars streak across the sky. However, none of them compare to our UFO sighting in Phoenix.

That’s right, I said ‘UFO’. Call in the media, the Air Force and my personal head shrinker. At least let me tell the story first though, OK? I’m sure there’s a rational explanation, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

So, we’re out for a stroll in the late evening. The moon is about half full and there are a few clouds in the sky. We’re not talking about a lot of clouds, just enough to create a sort of haze in front of the moon. The moon is at, perhaps, sixty degrees in the sky and backlighting a small cloud bank. At this point, I notice what initially seems to be a searchlight from the ground sweeping through this cloud bank. Then it hits me. The ‘searchlight’ is actually darkening the clouds rather than lighting them up. I say something insightful, such as “that’s weird” and Jenn notices it too. Over the next fifteen to twenty seconds, we watch it continue to arc through the cloud bank and disappear. We stay outside another five or ten minutes, occasionally glancing at the moon, but never notice a repeat of the phenomenon.

Now, common sense would indicate that any light shining up from the ground would work in the usual way and actually light things up instead of darken them. I would expect to see this sort of effect if there were an object between the moon and the clouds, but what sort of object is going to be that high up, rectangular shaped (at least the ‘visible’ portion), move in an arc, and be large enough to obscure light from the moon across the entire height of a cloud bank? Various things in space might fit the bill except for the size they’d have to be to actually be seen from the ground.

Ok, we were in the Phoenix area, which is a pretty large town, but we were on the outskirts. During the time of the sighting, the moon was out over the desert with not too much in the way of developed land in that direction. There is also a pretty large Air Force base in the area that was flying over and around us nearly constantly. So, it could have been anything and maybe nothing more sinister than an optical illusion caused by a ground based searchlight, which is what it most resembled. It’s been nagging at me off and on for a couple of weeks that I can’t come up with a better explanation. Any ideas?