Thursday, July 8, 2010

That’s no UFO . . . it’s a space station

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A UFO investigator says there is a perfectly logical explanation for a set of strange lights being reported in the night sky in Central Alberta.

A handful of people from the area, including one person from Blackfalds, have contacted him after seeing a bright light moving across the southern sky. Adding to the intrigue, a dimmer light was seen following it for awhile, as if attached, and then suddenly darting away.

No worries, says Brian Vike, a self-taught UFO researcher from Houston, B.C., and creator of the web blog, The Vike Factor, Into the Paranormal.

Conditions have been perfect for watching the International Space Station and, from time to time, the space flights that deliver its supplies. That is most likely the dimmer light that was seen following the space station and then seeming to dart away, Vike said on Tuesday.

People living close to Red Deer can see the space station for themselves on Thursday.

The station will appear lightly over the west-southwest horizon at 10:35 p.m. But make sure you’ve got a good angle on the horizon and don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

Information posted on the NASA’s Skywatch website has it up for only three minutes, reaching a maximum height of 27 degrees.

Depending on where you’re watching from in relation to the space station’s orbit, it can be directly overhead on some nights, said Vike.

Internet users interested in finding out when the space station will be visible can go online to spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/index.html for an interactive menu based on the country and city in which they are located.

Vike also noted a separate investigation recently after receiving numerous reports, dating back to New Year’s Eve, of bright orange lights in the sky.

“Think about it. They’re on days like July 1,” says Vike.

He has determined that the lights are actually Thai or Chinese lanterns, alternately called UFO balloons.

ommonly lit during the same special occasions that call for fireworks, the devices work much like a hot-air balloon, with a candle lit inside a globe.

The unit rises as the air in the globe warms up. From a distance, it’s quite bright and could be difficult to identify, said Vike.

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