18 October, 2009

The "UFO" event, observed over Southern Africa by many, photographed by few.

The following images are provided by our guest photographers Mitchell Krog and Albert van Biljon, diagrams and comments by Prof. MJH Hoffman, more by satellite tracker Greg Roberts

Thanks to all contributors, 702 Talk Radio and John Robbie, radio RSG for providing the link to our page and to all for visiting it!

A Centaur rocket, followed by US military weather satellite (DMSP F-18) dumped a load of excess fuel into space, resulting in spectacular views over Southern Africa.


Mitchell Krog writes:

I was out shooting some lightning storms last night but as I am always checking my back for storms that sneak up on me I turned around and saw a strange shape in the sky. I immediately starting capturing some images of it, in total 13 images but I have only included 5 here beginning, middle and end of sighting. This craft, whatever it may be, moved quite fast, first appearing in the South and Moving North West. From the time I first saw it until I could no longer see it was just under 4 minutes. Every so often a bright light would be emitted from the centre point of the concentric circles. The images are numbered in order.

19 October 2009, South Africa


Prof. MJH Hoffman writes:

I found Mitchell's pictures of the fuel dump fascinating. Attached a (somewhat shaky) picture obtained by Albert van Biljon from Bloemfontein at 20:52:56 - he had to run for his camera when unexpectedly saw the strange sight. The three bright stars below the satellite are Ascella, SAO 187683 and Nunki, all three part of Sagittarius (or the "handle of the tea pot"). Thanks to the information that you provided I could find the two-line elements of the US military weather satellite (DMSP F-18), and confirm above reasonable doubt that the picture that Albert obtained is indeed of the same satellite that displayed the fuel dump over Europe. See attached satellite tracks as seen from Bloemfontein as obtained with the SatSpy program.

It's hard to imagine anything like this happening above South Africa without Greg Roberts observing it from his station in Western Cape..

Greg writes:

It was a most spectacular event - took me completely by surprise as the fuel dump was scheduled to take place later over Europe when they boosted the Centaur rocket to heliocentric orbit. What we saw here in SA beats anything I've seen so far from Europe - the rocket appeared to be "puffing" and I guess this was propellant venting and then expanding in concentric rings around the rocket.
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