Yes, it's true! Your Assistant State Director does put his money where his mouth is and he does commit to spending a few hours a week to scanning the night and daytime sky for that elusive prey: UFOs. I don't just talk UFOs. I try to proactively engage the phenomenon not only through active investigation of other people's cases but also by creating observation opportunities for myself. Lately, in the summer with the better weather, I've been on five or six skywatches both at night and in the day.
This special report is about my own personal UFO skywatch of July 31, 2011. The weather was clear, bright, and sunshiny with numerous cumulus clouds forming and dissipating. They were moving pretty fast generally from west to east at about a 2000 to 3000 feet altitude. It was a pleasant 80º.
I began by sitting in a comfortable chair on my back deck around 4:30 PM and continued till around 6 PM. My procedure was simple: use my eyes and 9X binoculars to scan the small patch of sky I could see between my roof line and surrounding tall trees.
In addition to the usual airplanes, birds, tree fluff, wasps, etc., here's what I saw and/or recorded on my Canon 40D with a Canon 100 to 400 mm lens always at the 400 mm end.
- 4:35:99 to 4:38:51 PM. Duration: 2m 51s. I took a series of 52 photos in a "blind shooting" session. I randomly covered the small patch of sky I could see by pointing the lens in one location and firing off a short burst of photos using the continous shooting setting. I learned this technique from Randy Bell. This is a good way to begin a session of sky watching and you can occasionally catch UFOs as I did here. I photographed the (apparently) same red UFO twice at 4:37:19, that is, two photos within one second. One photo shows a dim, red, round object and the next photo shows the same object only much brighter. The exposures were the same at f8 and 1/500 of a second. Regular balloons don't become significantly brighter at all in the same lighting much less within one second. For comparison, see the black and white balloon cluster below. To repeat, I did not see this UFO. It only showed up on the photos upon examination later.
- About 4:40 PM. Duration: About 5m. I saw about 70º up from the horizon to the SE a small, pinkish, bright, "balloon-mimic" UFO moving very slowly to the NW. I used my 9X binoculars to initially discover it and continue to view it. I could not see it outside the binoculars. I tried frantically to locate this tiny object in the viewfinder of my Canon 40D with 400 mm lens, but could not. I decided not to take a photo. This was a mistake. Warning: If you want hard evidence that you saw something, always take at least one photo or a snippet of video. You just may find something later when you examine the photo or video snippet in detail that at least corroborates your visual sighting. The image may be a bad, out-of-focus one, but it just might give you some good information anyway such as color confirmation. See the yellow UFO information below. Moral: Always take the photo/video even if you think it is hopeless!
- About 4:47 PM. Duration: About 2m. I saw about 70º up from the horizon to the east two small "balloon mimic" UFOs like the first one—one whitish and the other greenish, both bright and moving very slowly to the NW or west. I used my 9X binoculars to initially discover them and continue to view them. I could not see them outside the binoculars. I did the same thing as in the first sighting: I failed to take a photo when I should have. You have only my (good) word on the existence of these two objects.
- 4:50:44 to 4:51:26 PM. Duration: 42s. I took 62 photos of a black and white balloon cluster moving from west to east with the prevailing low-level winds. I first observed the cluster more or less overhead. I last observed it about 65º up from the horizon off to the SE after which tall trees obscured it. The cluster was clearly balloons in the 9X binoculars and in the 400 mm lens's 40D viewfinder and in the photos.
- 4:59:58 to 5:00:58 PM. Duration: 1m. I took 90 photos of a high-flying, ordinary commercial jet moving from south to north, probably heading to Seattle, WA. I first observed it more or less overhead. Note the short time of one minute. Airplanes are seen from my deck, even if I get up to move around to see the most I can of the sky, only about four minutes maximum no matter what kind of airplanes they are—low-flying ones coming in for a landing at PDX or high-flying commercial or occasionally military ones. They just don't hang around for long. Some UFOs, on the other hand, may hang around for tens of minutes at a time and move very little.
- 5:21:10 to 5:33:56 PM. Duration: 12m 38s. I took 158 photos of a single, very small, white, "balloon-mimic" UFO and one yellow one at the very end of the observation. Note the long duration! I actually struggled to focus on the object in the beginning so I only have images of the UFO after the first couple of minutes. So, proof of the UFO's duration amounts to 12 minutes and 38 seconds from 5:21:10 to 5:33:56. The white UFO first appeared about 70º up from the NE horizon and moved slowly to the SE during about 10 to 12 minutes within about 5º of its initial position. Then it began to move less slowly over the next minute another 15 degrees to the SW so that it was nearly overhead. At this time, I barely caught sight of a yellow, similar-sized UFO moving in close to the white one. I frantically tried to get a photo of both in the same photo but failed. However, I did manage to get three smeared and fuzzy images of a yellow "something." This corroborates my visual sighting and can only be the yellow UFO. Then it was all over and I could not locate either UFO by eye, camera, or binoculars for another minute or so.
So, there you have it:
- Two photos of a prominent red "something" UFO. No visual confirmation.
- Visual only sightings of three "balloon-mimic" UFOs.
- One positive ID of a black and white balloon cluster.
- A high-flying all white (silver?) commercial airplane.
- A visual sighting and photos of an approximately 15 minute duration white, "balloon-mimic" UFO plus a yellow one at the end.
Selected Photos From Keith's 7-31-11 UFO Skywatch
The photos are chronological left to right and down. No manipulations have been done on any of the images. These photos are straight from the camera. Note that all photos are the same image size in Photoshop at 200% and all were taken at the 400 mm maximum zoomed in range of a Canon 100 to 400 zoom lens. We can't calculate the real size of the UFOs unless we guess an altitude for the objects. However, we can know, of course, the real sizes of the airplane and balloon cluster quite accurately and, thus, we can then calculate the altitudes. I will leave that excercise to the viewer of this page. (I have attempted this in many of the case studies on this site.)
The first two images (red ones) were taken one after the other within one second. Note the difference in brightness between the two. The two photos were taken at the same exposure. It is highly unlikely that a balloon (the closest ID for this object) would vary in brightness to this extent within one second.
Black and White Balloons and Airplane
The black and white balloons and airplane are clearly identifiable for what they are, and their behavior was entirely consistent with a balloon cluster and an airplane! No mysteries here.
White "Balloon Mimic" UFO and Yellow UFO
The white image in the the bottom left looks like a balloon and if you just had the image, you would identify it as a white balloon pure and simple. End of story! The problem is there is more to the story, which you have read above. The white UFO was more or less stationary for about 10 to 12 minutes and then began to move SW and then a similar object (the yellow one) appeared nearby and then both disappeared unexpectedly within the next 30 seconds or so.
I did not see them disappear by naked eye or in my 9X binoculars because I was busy continuing to photograph the white "balloon mimic" UFO. Then the yellow one showed up and things got a bit more complicated with me trying to capture an image of both of them (which I failed at). I stopped trying to photograph them and started searching the skies with my 9X binoculars and they were nowhere to be found. The yellow UFO is blurred because I was moving the camera around rapidly trying to get a photo. I believe a good, sharp image would have probably looked more or less like the white UFO, but we'll never know.
When you investigate UFOs, you always listen to the whole story. With UFOs, there is always more than meets the eye.