Missile Launch? Lens Flare? Mysterious Object Spotted Over Whidbey Island

maximus otter

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#1
WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. -- It's time to get out that tinfoil hat.

A mysterious object was spotted by a local photographer over the skies of Whidbey Island early Sunday morning, leading to lots of speculation and questions, but no solid answers.



Greg Johnson of Skunk Bay Weather was looking through the pictures snapped by a weather camera on the Kitsap Peninsula when he spotted a photo with a mysterious object. The picture - snapped at 3:56 a.m. Sunday by a high-quality, 20-second exposure camera - shows a bright orange streak in the early morning sky over Whidbey Island.

Johnson told Q13 News he was hesitant to release the photo.

Mostly, because it appears to be a missile launched from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

But Tom Mills, a spokesperson for NAS Whidbey Island, said it wasn't a missile launch from the facility. There are no missile launch capabilities on the Navy base at Whidbey Island.

In fact, Navy workers are wondering what it was, too.

"There's a lot of speculation around here," Mills said, suggesting it could be lens flare. "But it's definitely not a missile launch."

Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, posted the photos on his blog Monday. Speculation in the comments runs from a Photoshopped picture to airplanes. But Mass agreed with Johnson's assessment.

"It really looks like an ascending missile," Mass wrote on his blog.

Regardless of what it was, Johnson said it's one of the weirder things he's spotted in his time as a weather photographer.

"I've seen a lot of stuff," Johnson said. "But nothing like this."

Tyler Rogoway at The Drive did some research and landed on a likely - if not exactly scintillating - answer: The object might've been an air ambulance helicopter that was flying in the area at almost exactly the same time.

http://q13fox.com/2018/06/11/missil...spotted-over-whidbey-island-raises-questions/


maximus otter
 

eburacum

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#3
I think the clue is down in the extreme bottom left hand corner. There we can see a patch of brightly-lit yellow sky.

I think this is a normal aircraft contrail illuminated by sunshine, which is partly obscured by a lower layer of blue cloud (which is in shadow). This is some time before dawn, but sunlight is just creeping in to catch high-flying aircraft.
 

hunck

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#4
According to the other thread featuring this story, it's been explained as probably an air ambulance helicopter.
 

Analogue Boy

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#5
It’s probably not a lens flare. They’re not diffused by clouds.
Also you can zoom in and see a definite missile-shaped object at the top.
 

hunck

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#9
Air Ambulance helicopter. Yeah right. If it was a missile-launching Air Ambulance Helicopter, the theory may have a chance.
It certainly looks like a missile but you'd have to read the theory on the other thread. It stems from the fact it's a 20 second exposure so the trail is deceptive, distance hard to tell, no nearby missile/rocket launch sites etc..
 

Xanatic*

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#10
Best UFO photo in years. If it is a long exposure photo of a helicopter, I would expect it to look like a long, same-coloured smear. Not an object in front of a glowing trail.
 

Ermintruder

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#11
This is an odd picture. I don't see the vapour trail as being consistent with a missile at all.

The reason why this conclusion is tempting to follow is because of its:
  • apparent straight trajectory
  • apparent angled track relative to a presumed perpendicular
  • increased brightness of trail glow closest to the source
  • contrast bite-through relative to the darker clouds
Missile vapour-trails *do not* illuminate over their entire length, as a function of the flame at the jet outlet. Conversely, a vapour trail from an aircraft, lit by the sun above, *will* illuminate, fairly-consistently over an entire track, as a consequence of sunlight refraction/reflection and internal scatter.

Admittedly the source 'object' looks odd, but this may give a clue. A skew perspective would foreshorten a fuselage, and also (conceivably) create an anamorphic straight path from a azimuthal curve. Contast levels can result in wings disappearing, especially if the aerofoil wing chord is in axial pitch anti-bias relative to the angle of acquisition.

Presumably someone has checked and eliminated any concordance with existing FAA airway flightpaths, with cross-checks against time of picture taken? This only happened about 12hrs ago, so perhaps not (Naval Air Station....they should surely have considered that).

ELA looks kosher...so probably minimal processing.
http://fotoforensics.com/analysis.php?id=7086f9f84b25deb65a597ac58bda0ea1fcd528fd.123042&show=digest
 

eburacum

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#15
A twenty-second exposure could make this a single light on the helicopter, or a landing light on a more distant jet aircraft. Metabunk have at least one candidate for a commercial overflight, but it would need to be quite low to move that far in 20 seconds.
 

kamalktk

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#21
vapour-trails *do not* illuminate over their entire length, as a function of the flame at the jet outlet.
Since it's a 20 second exposure, it doesn't have to illuminate the entire length at the same time. The bright light of just a short trail would leave the long streak.
 

dr wu

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#24
Apparently it was a helicopter taken in time exposure by a camera.
See the ufo forum under Things That Are Not Ufos.
 

Ermintruder

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#29
I don't see the vapour trail as being consistent with a missile at all
Was there any kind of explanation as to how the Random family, down for the day from upstate Random (whilst stopping to let Grandpa take a whiz behind the bushes) just happened to have a tripod-mounted DSLR ready to slap onto a 20sec timelapse exposure

Wait
we're saying this was a fully-automated weather stills camera? Screenshot_2018-06-14-04-13-18.png
Intriguing that this screepcap (taken from the skunkbayweather.com website, dated yesterday) when considered alongside the original, clearly-places the apparent path of the smoketrail to the right (as viewed) of the tree (with the unambiguous "two pom-poms of leaves" very-close to the smoketrail).

So surely: that vapour line could be interpolated back down to a ground interception point (if we are accepting that it's a genuine undistorted straight line) which then gives a ground bearing towdards an imputed launch-point? This is often impossible to do, in UFO-style pictures...x marks the spot, perhaps, in this case?
 

Ermintruder

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#30
(and if that imputed point-of-origin is not consistent with the Naval Air Station...)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...ak-light-spotted-Washington-state-island.html
Apparently a wind-back of the FlightRadar24 data for the location/date/time place a helicopter in exactly the right place...

The helicopter was an EC-135T2+ registered as N952AL belonging to Air Methods, according to the publication and was in exactly the right spot when the picture was taken.

'The thing that looks like a rocket at atop a flame would have been a 'ghost image' of the part of the helicopter that was exposed from spill-over from its running lights and the low available light in the environment', the publication wrote.

'This can look nothing like the actual object as the long exposure and how the light plays on the object can result in strange and often elongated shapes—in this case, something like a ghostly image of a rocket.'

Dr Grant Allen at Manchester University's Centre for Atmospheric Science also isn't convinced that this is a missile.

'There are a few things I can tell from the photo – the light streak appears to pass between two cloud decks – a low-level and a mid-to-higher-level deck – you can see this as the streak appears and disappears behind the low level cloud deck but always appears in the foreground of the higher cloud deck,' he said.

'This is not consistent with a vertically ascending missile as such an ascent might be expected to penetrate both cloud decks (very quickly).

'Also, given the upward-tilted angle of the camera (seen by the leaves on the trees to the left), this all adds up, in my opinion, to be something moving horizontally but toward the camera giving the illusion of an ascending object in this image.'

'This must be a long exposure photograph/capture as you see a light streak (not an object) and some smearing out of the clouds too.

'To my mind, this is just a brightly lit conventional aircraft of helicopter moving overhead at an altitude above the height of the lower cloud deck but below that of the higher cloud deck.'
 
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