Posted on Saturday, 2 January, 2010
A couple in Canada reported witnessing four unidentified flying objects over Mount Benson on Christmas Day. The four orange lights were seen to zoom across the sky in different directions, converging over the mountain.
"Nanaimo's Chris Ansell and Kathleen Kirby have crossed Santa Claus off their list as they search for answers after they reported seeing four unidentified flying objects over Mount Benson on Christmas Day."
Nanaimo's Chris Ansell and Kathleen Kirby have crossed Santa Claus off their list as they search for answers after they reported seeing four unidentified flying objects over Mount Benson on Christmas Day.
At 8:29 p.m., while on the deck of Ansell's parents' home on King John Way, the couple saw four orange lights the size of stars zip through the sky from four different directions and come together above the mountain.
Ansell, 35, whipped out his Blackberry to catch the action, while Kirby, 23, grabbed a nearby camera.
The four "starlike lights did this weird zig-zag thing and then turned into green glowing spheres and then, poof, they disappeared upwards," Ansell said, gesturing frantically with his hands.
In less than 40 seconds it was all over, but Ansell and Kathleen captured three images they hope will eventually lead to an explanation of their mysterious sighting.
"We know it wasn't Santa. He had already come and gone," said Ansell with a laugh, pointing to his mother.
Paul Greenhalgh, president of the Fraser Valley Astronomers Society, has a few suspicions about what could have caused the extraordinary light show, though he discounts the possibility they were UFOs.
After examining Ansell's and Kirby's photos, Greenhalgh believes the "stars" are part of the Big Dipper constellation.
The low horizon of the Earth and thicker density of the atmosphere from the angle the stars were seen caused them to change colour from orange to red to blue and green. Greenhalgh also said the satellite Chandra (an X-ray space observatory) was also moving across the sky at the same time as the couple's sighting, as were two iridium satellites.
"If they flared, otherwise known as an iridium flare, this could also add to the equation," added Greenhalgh.
As far as the description of the erratic movements, Greenhalgh has no explanation.
"I have a philosophy about UFO sightings," he said. "The galaxy is 100,000 light years across. If we were able to send a message from our solar system to another solar system on the other side of the galaxy through the galactic core, without it being disrupted with all the radiation there, it would take 65,000 years for us to say hello and an additional 65,000 years for them to reply. It's going to be a very boring conversation."
Greenhalgh has studied and stared into the sky for more than four decades without ever seeing an UFO. Only once in 43 years did he see a flying object he couldn't explain.
But he uncovered the mystery two years later when he discovered the v-shape formation and central bright light he saw had been U.S. Navy satellites that had been tethered together.
Greenhalgh also point out that any aircraft that enters the Earth's atmosphere would definitely be detected by the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
"NORAD can track anything from the size of a ping pong ball and larger," he said.
Ansell and Kirby continue to keep a close eye on the night sky above Mount Benson with the hopes of another sighting.
"I just need an explanation. I don't believe in extraterrestrials or anything like that, but anything is possible," said Ansell.
"We do live in a huge universe and there could be things out there that just want to observe us.
"All we can hope is someone else saw it, too."