It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… not an alien spaceship

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… not an alien spaceship

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… not an alien spaceship

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
March 16 2005 4:05 PM

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… not an alien spaceship

So for about the past ten years, I've been saying that the vast majority of things reported as UFOs are more mundane objects, like birds, airplanes, satellites, Venus, what-have-you.

I have seen for myself countless times that people simply are not familiar with the sky, and so they routinely misinterpret what they see. Most people, for example, don't know that you can even see man-made satellites in the sky (not only can you see them, you can even predict when and where you'll see them).

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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So this article from Dubbo, Australia comes as no surprise to me. A woman reported a UFO to the police:

Suzanne Fuller had called police on Sunday night to report seeing the object "about 50 miles away" in sky's [sic] south-east.

Shaky video footage of the object was later viewed by police who made an official report to Air Services Australia (ASA), and sent them a copy of the tape.

"It looked like a bird, but much larger... with a flat top and a deeper shape at the bottom," was how Mrs Fuller described what she had seen in the sky "for five hours".

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So what was it?

Last Sunday night, for five hours, [Paul Cremin] was flying a 'delta coyne' [sic; that should be Delta-Conyne] kite 140 metres in the air - directly in the part of the sky that Suzanne Fuller and her family reported seeing a UFO.

The UFO in questionThe UFO in question. Beware of probing.

I've seen mylar balloons and kites that really do move around in the sky exactly the same way people describe a lot of "UFOs". I was myself once (almost) fooled by a flock of ducks...

Anyway, when you hear someone describe an object that danced and weaved, or glowed brightly, or hovered then suddenly moved off, don't jump to conclusions. There might be a string attached.

By the way, I've been to Dubbo. I was there in November 2004, during a whirlwind tour of Australia. We stopped in Dubbo, where I ate a meat pie, had a pretty good fruit smoothie, and drove through an epic locust invasion. Those were definitely identified flying objects, but it was still pretty weird. Even for Australia.