Apparently a UFO was seen in Hawkes Bay (opens new window) late last week. Several people reported seeing a large rectangular shaped object in the sky at dusk, with green and red lights, moving strangely.
A MetService meteorologist has suggested the sightings may be of lenticular clouds, which are common in the area and are fascinating dense clouds that can look like a solid object in the sky.
Green and red lights are also used by aeroplanes to let people know where the left (red) and right (green) sides of the plane are, much the same as boats have - red for port and green for starboard.
Descriptions of "unexplainable" motion are often caused by movement of the person observing the object in the sky, rather than movement of the object itself. This is especially true when these objects are filmed on a phone - shaky hand-held cameras can add the appearance of very erratic movement.
Although none of this is proof that people in Hawkes Bay saw clouds and aeroplanes rather than UFOs, on the balance of probabilities it seems like a much more likely explanation.
New Zealand isn’t the only country generating UFO stories at the moment. The US is awash in stories arising from the recent release of military videos of UFOs (or UAPs - Unidentified Aerial Phenomena). My understanding is that military pilots are expected to film anything unexplained they see in the sky - as there is a chance it could be a national security issue - so it’s no surprise that there are videos out there. Unsurprisingly they show nothing more than indistinct blobs, filmed either in visible light or infrared, and recorded from military planes.
Sadly the US media, including major networks such as Fox and CBS, seem to be taking this all way too seriously, recently interviewing people who have already made up their minds that UFOs are real - and seemingly prompted by a 60 Minutes special on UFOs. Some of these interviewees seem far too ready to put up their hands and exclaim that something is the product of advanced technology, before they’ve even done the basic work of trying to explain it by looking into the videos and attempting to find a natural explanation.
I’m sure this kind of reporting is great for increasing viewership, but that’s not good enough. First and foremost, news companies should focus on reporting on the truth - and sometimes that requires doing some ground work and investigation. It turns out that a bunch of unpaid amateurs on YouTube have been able to do a better job than professional media companies have done, looking at these videos for information that can help figure out what the flying objects in question are.
Information such as data from a plane’s camera HUD (Heads Up Display) have allowed one YouTuber to figure out that one video shows an object about the size of a bird, flying at about the speed of a bird, and exhibiting movement like a bird’s flapping wings.
Another has compared infrared footage of several of these UFOs with infrared footage, from behind, of known military and commercial jets, and shown them to be a very close match.
A third has tracked down the type of night vision camera that has a triangular aperture, and made test videos showing that having the aperture partially closed and the camera out of focus can cause green triangles to appear on the screen when filming aeroplanes at night - triangles that look a lot like the ones featured in one of the most popular UFO clips circulating at the moment.
It’s not okay for the media to not do their job properly, especially when it doesn’t take long to find reasonable explanations for these "unexplained phenomena" online with a simple google search. And interviewing people who believe in UFOs, treating them as "experts", is just unacceptable. At least our local paper, in this case the Hawkes Bay Today, managed to do a half-decent job of asking someone who knew what they were talking about if there was a possible terrestrial explanation for the recent New Zealand sightings.