# Phoenix Lights

Am I to doubt every witness who describes the phenomenon as massive ?
I guess a flight of individual aircraft would look huge if you thought they were all one object?

Size estimates are not always accurate, though. Ask 50 people what object held at arm's length would be about the right size to cover the full moon. See what sort of answers you get. When I tried it years ago, I got ranges from an orange or baseball, to a golf ball, to a US quarter-dollar coin. The correct answer is of course much smaller -- something around the size of an aspirin tablet (as aspirin is sold in the US, I know it is sold as much smaller pills in China, not sure how the rest of the world makes their OTC pain relief pills.) Nobody guessed something too small, all guessed something much too big. And this was the moon, which we've all seen repeatedly and with which we are pretty familiar, and without the adrenaline boost of seeing a mysterious UFO fly by!*

Of course my experiment was not a valid statistical sample, so yeah, try it yourself if you want to, see what you find out.

*The very first book I read that dealt with things like control groups and statistically valid samples and interpreting statistical data was "Shark Attack" by H. David Baldridge, an analysis of the data in the shark attack files complied to that point by the US Navy. One of the things discussed was whether witnesses estimate of the size of the shark were reasonably accurate. They ran a test where witnesses stood with their backs to a big tank of seawater, and were told to turn around where they either saw a shark swimming by or a length of PVC pipe in the water. Estimates of the pipe length were pretty good, the sharks were always described as bigger than they were -- presumably it was more exciting to see a shark than some pipe, and excitement led to the experience being evaluated by the witness as larger than life, as it were. I still have the book around here somewhere, if I can find it I'll re-read it and try to find the section to quote.

I'm sure even the least smart of witnesses would grasp that something 5 degrees across at a few hundred feet is actually quite a SMALL object.
Eight degrees across would be a Jumbo Jet at 1600 feet. That would be an impressive object, sixteen times as wide as the Moon.

And if it were crawling across the sky at an apparent speed of a few tens of miles per hour, then it would look more impressive still. That would be the speed of a slow helicopter, or a fast hot-air balloon - either way, unlike anything in normal experience.

If a witness estimates an object as merely a few hundred feet up, well, I'm sure even the least smart of witnesses would grasp that something 5 degrees across at a few hundred feet is actually quite a SMALL object.
Here we have the same problem which we encounter again and again: witness estimates of size and/or distance are notoriously inaccurate, especially in the absence of any experience upon which to base it. If you are, for example, witnessing an ordinary automobile at a distance, something whose approximate size is familiar to us all, how many people can accurately give you the distance off the top of their heads? Not with any device to measure the angle it subtends, not with a calculator with sine functions, but just a snap judgment? I imagine very few, and that's true of those of above average intelligence as well. Now do it with something unknown in size, and with no ground features with which to compare it. It's not easy, and even an experienced observer falls back on assumptions which may not be true.

I just roughly measured the angle subtended by my double glass doors to the deck, as seen from my favorite chair. It's about fifteen degrees. Something occluding a third of that view would definitely get my attention. It would take something like a full-grown deer walking across the middle of the deck to span that five degree angle, or a horse just past the end of the deck, or a fairy large person standing close up against the glass. A thing in one's vision that spans five degrees is "large", in that it's immediately seen...and thus not considered to be "small".

And if it were crawling across the sky at an apparent speed of a few tens of miles per hour, then it would look more impressive still. That would be the speed of a slow helicopter, or a fast hot-air balloon - either way, unlike anything in normal experience.

I gotta love the way on the one hand people try to have the object not be too large in the sky whilst at the same time trying to make it as slow as possible and as high up as possible. Never mind that these two goals are contradictory.

After all, the higher up an object is, the slower it will travel across the sky. Why would anyone be surprised at an object 20,000 feet up moving at 1 degree per second ? That's equivalent to 300mph at 20,000 feet....the speed the Astronomy article suggests. Even if we accept Stanley's '5 degrees' for the object size ( never mind that he fitted all the front 3 lights within just one degree ) I would not say 1 degree per second was particularly slow. The planes that fly over my house at 5000 feet ( and are 2.5 degrees wing span ) are doing about 2 degrees per second. All these 'unreliable witnesses' are really going to notice something only marginally slower and not simply assume the slowness is due to being higher ?

And why would they then care about something moving at 1 degree higher up...a perfectly normal rate of speed as per Astronomy's own 300mph at 20,000 feet....unless the object was particularly LARGE ? The only reason a viewer would conclude that the object was travelling at a few tens of miles per hour would be if it was low...and large.

And yet....even if we accept Stanley's claim ( which I don't ) the object was not large at all. Just 5 degrees across. I mean, that doesn't quite fit the claim of one witness in James Fox's film who claimed you could hold a newspaper open and it would not cover the object, or the pilot from Scottsdale who described the object as being as large as Camelback mountain ( which would be 15 degrees wide even from the north of Scottsdale ), or others who described it as 'massive'.

But the object allegedly moved slowly.

Or they were far away. Which would make it impossible to resolve a pair of lights. And that might be why the majority of witnesses didn't resolve a pair of lights.

When I'm trying to track a plane or satellite in the telescope I'm switching back and forth between naked eye, finder and main eyepiece as it goes in and out of the field of view.

Given that he says he wasn't interested but had a quick look and confirmed that they were planes as he expected, I'd believe him over any other witness that they were planes.

But I wouldn't expect him to be accurate on any details like exact sizes, colours or type of plane. I know in those circumstances I could easily misremember whether I'd seen two of them together through the main eyepiece or the finder. Or I might see two fly through the field close together without really knowing whether they had both been within it at the same time.

The testimony from the other witnesses is also consistent with a formation of planes, with many mistaking them for a single object and/or greatly overestimating the size as you would expect, especially when retelling the story after hearing the hype from UFO promoters or other overexcited witnesses.

never mind that he fitted all the front 3 lights within just one degree
Front Two lights.
The third one was outside the FOV. I have already pointed this out.
Here's a (cleaned up) frame from the Proctor video. You can see that the front two lights are very close together, and the outermost light is at least five times as far away. Translated to an overhead view, this could easily become a 15 degree wide aerial monster.

And yet....even if we accept Stanley's claim ( which I don't ) the object was not large at all. Just 5 degrees across.
As I've also pointed out, we don't know the exact angle at which Stanley made his '5 degrees wide' estimation. He was observing it from when it was 20 degrees above the horizon, till it was 60 degrees above the horizon, and quite possible after that, when it presumably passed back towards the horizon.

The '5 degrees wide' estimation could easily translate into '15 degrees across' when seen from underneath. Even if Stanley was making his '5 degrees wide' estimation at the 60 degree angle, that translates into 8 degrees directly overhead; a Jumbo jet at 1,500 feet, or an object 16 times as wide as the Moon. Massive and potentially terrifying.

But the 'estimation' may have been made at 40 degrees, which would be consistent with '15 degrees across' when seen from underneath. Or the estimation may have been made at a range of other angles. 15 degrees is thirty times as wide as the Moon.

Or it may be simply Stanley misremembering. I doubt very much that he misremembered the lights on the planes though. My telescope inverts the image too; it is tricky to follow a moving target, but you can, with practice, get a clear view of the target as it moves through the FOV.

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The testimony from the other witnesses is also consistent with a formation of planes, with many mistaking them for a single object and/or greatly overestimating the size as you would expect, especially when retelling the story after hearing the hype from UFO promoters or other overexcited witnesses.
It is probably also worth considering that there may be some "self selection" of reporting skewing towards those who saw the lights and interpreted them as being a big exciting UFO, and those who saw them and recognized an unremarkable formation of planes who would have nothing to report.

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The only reason a viewer would conclude that the object was travelling at a few tens of miles per hour would be if it was low...and large.
I one watched a slow transit of a bright light against the evening sky. It turned out to be a meteor, the "Friday night" meteor, so-called because it passed at the time when all the high schools were having football games, many of the parents had video cameras out, and thus it was extensively photographed. I knew it was a meteorite because of the trail of disintegrating fragments. But in its "slow" transit, apparently falling in your range of "a few tens of miles an hour", it crossed the skies of northern Ohio and most of Pennsylvania.

Meteorites enter the atmosphere at speeds from 25,000 to 160,000 miles an hour, and although they can decelerate in the atmosphere quite rapidly, they're still VERY fast.

https://ourplnt.com/how-fast-do-meteorites-hit-the-ground/

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The only reason a viewer would conclude that the object was travelling at a few tens of miles per hour would be if it was low...and large.
That is not correct. There is another reason; if it was high and fast, and they misperceived the height, which is what seems to have happened here.

The model that Printy has been using is a flight of planes travelling at 300-450 miles per hour at 35,000 feet. Several people who saw this flight (for instance Mike Fortson) thought they were seeing a single large object travelling at an altitude of maybe 2000 feet. If he was looking at the Snowbird flight, it would appear to be travelling at 17-25.5 miles per hour (to someone who was assuming a 2000 foot altitude).

Some witnesses thought the single object was flying at a few hundred feet, and they would perceive the lights to be moving even slower.

Even if the 'planes were travelling at 20,000 feet and 300-450 mph, as some have suggested, that gives an apparent range of speeds at '2000 feet' of 30mph to 45 mph. This is faster than a typical hot air balloon, and slower than a typical cruising helicopter, so it is in the 'high strangeness' zone.

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A bigger problem is the timing. Reports start coming in at about 08:15 pm, with the flight of planes appearing NW of Phoenix; the Snowbirds are supposed to have taken off about then, in Tuscon, and it would have taken them at least a quarter of an hour to get to the NW of Phoenix.
http://web.archive.org/web/20080919024000/http://members.aol.com/tprinty/azflares.html
A flight schedule from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, shows that a squadron of planes from Operation Snowbird left at 8:15 p.m. on March 13 and returned at 10:30 p.m.
A spokesman for Luke Air Force Base confirmed that the Maryland planes were authorized to use the Barry Goldwater range from 9:30 to 10 p.m. on March 13….
But the Operation Snowbird planes might account for the lights seen near 10 p.m. in the west, the sightings that have provided most of the videotape and photographs seen around the country.
"Our guys did create, while they were up there, an event that this one colonel told me could be perceived as a hell of a light show," said Capt. Drew Sullins, of the Maryland Air National Guard.

So either the witness reports all got the time wrong, or the flight took off a quarter of an hour before schedule. I know that witnesses get the time wrong a lot of the time, especially when reporting memories; additionally, there are a lot of 'I saw it too' accounts which are probably untrue - this was a silent event, more or less, so probably only a few people saw the first event, not 'hundreds' or 'thousands'. Tim Printy lists about 40, which is quite an impressive number, really. But the timings all converge on 08:15-08:30.

I'm more inclined to think that the Snowbirds took off a quarter of an hour early. Quite possibly they weren't really flying in tight formation, either - the grouping in Proctor's video is too loose and chaotic for that. They just all lined up and flew alongside each other at a safe distance.

A bigger problem is the timing. Reports start coming in at about 08:15 pm, with the flight of planes appearing NW of Phoenix; the Snowbirds are supposed to have taken off about then, in Tuscon, and it would have taken them at least a quarter of an hour to get to the NW of Phoenix.
http://web.archive.org/web/20080919024000/http://members.aol.com/tprinty/azflares.html

So either the witness reports all got the time wrong, or the flight took off a quarter of an hour before schedule. I know that witnesses get the time wrong a lot of the time, especially when reporting memories; additionally, there are a lot of 'I saw it too' accounts which are probably untrue - this was a silent event, more or less, so probably only a few people saw the first event, not 'hundreds' or 'thousands'. Tim Printy lists about 40, which is quite an impressive number, really. But the timings all converge on 08:15-08:30.

I'm more inclined to think that the Snowbirds took off a quarter of an hour early. Quite possibly they weren't really flying in tight formation, either - the grouping in Proctor's video is too loose and chaotic for that. They just all lined up and flew alongside each other at a safe distance.

I see times that may only have 15-minute precision - are you sure they have better than 15-minute accuracy.?

I am sure of nothing. Many of my friends have only '1-hour precision' when talking about their own schedules; if they say 8:00 they mean anything between 8:00 and 9:00.

But there is a definite trend in the witness reports favouring 8:15pm as the start of the event, which is a bit early for the Snowbirds.

"What looked like individual lights to the naked eye actually split into two under the resolving power of the telescope. The lights were located on the undersides of squarish wings, Mitch says. And the planes themselves seemed small, like light private planes."

FWIW the A-10 does have straight "squarish wings" more similar in profile to the wings of civil aircraft than those of a typical military fighter aircraft.

That aspect of the description does lend credence to the A-10 theory.

As to the color of lights, possible explanations would include atmospheric haze, memories converging on reports of an "orange" color or something anomalous about the planes. I do not KNOW the reason, but there are possible explanations that do not require positing a huge unknown craft or something of unknown origin -- which, come to think of it, would have been a pretty substantial hazard to navigation for the planes known to be flying through the area!

The video of the flares was widely shown in TV at the time. Many of the witnesses would have seen those lights via the news stories (if not first hand). Conflation of the two events is entirely possible after the fact.

Someone saw the triangle of lights on the night in question, but then saw the video of orangish lights which colored their perception of the original event.

That is not correct. There is another reason; if it was high and fast, and they misperceived the height, which is what seems to have happened here.

Let's do some maths....

An Airbus 320 at 5000 feet is 3 degrees across...and coming in at 200mph....which is 290 feet per second....which is almost equivalent to its wing span, so it would be moving across the sky at 3 degrees per second. Double the height to 10,000 feet and you get 1.5 degrees across and moving at 1.5 degrees per second. That is just a little higher than they come in over my house...around 7000 to 9000 feet....to land at Gatwick airport. I've seen them coming over...the first one is at 5am....and there's no confusing it for a UFO.

Now if we believe Stanley, the Phoenix object was travelling at around 1 degree per second....and he claims 5 degrees across. Well, there would be some dichotomy between size and speed. You would not normally see an object with that arc size travelling that slow. But we're not talking factors of 10 or something. Certainly not so much as to decide the object was 'huge' as some witnesses described. I do not think a 5 degree object would have created sufficient abnormality to have generated the mass reporting.

Obviously the larger the apparent size of the object was, the more one would notice a dichotomy between size and speed. Which is why I believe the larger sizes.....15 degrees...even 20 degrees. BUT...we then run into a problem because the Astronomy article NEEDS the phenomenon to be high in order to get the 1 degree speed and Stanley seeing the first 3 objects all within 1 degree. Trouble is that you then cannot reconcile that with the angular size required to create a size/speed anomaly !

That's the paradox I've tried to elucidate here. Something is wrong somewhere.

Even if Stanley's recollections are not quite accurate, the Proctor clip demonstrates that this was not a solid object.

Why is there so little information on the Proctor video ? What was it taken on ? What was the field of view ? Where was it taken ? What was the angle of viewing ? We normally lambaste videos here that are far more informative and far less blurry. Should we not apply the same standards ?

Now if we believe Stanley, the Phoenix object...
If we believe Stanley, there was not AN object, there was a flight of small objects.

Stanley seeing the first 3 objects all within 1 degree
First 2 objects. As I have pointed out many times. The third object was outside the field of view, according to his correspondence with Printy.

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Trouble is that you then cannot reconcile that with the angular size required to create a size/speed anomaly !
Well, I can, if the angle Stanley was observing the phenomenon at was similar to the angle of the Proctor clip. Remember that Stanley watched it from 20 degrees elevation to 60 degrees elevation; if his estimation of size was made at 40 degrees elevation, 5 degrees width is roughly consistent with the characteristics of the Proctor clip.

This image appears to have been taken at about 40 degrees above the horizon. At 90 degrees (directly overhead) the phenomenon could easily cover 15 degrees of the sky.

Well, having done a bit of trigonometry, an object that was perfectly level, and subtended 5 degrees at 40 degrees elevation, would subtend 9 degrees directly overhead (eighteen times the width of the Moon). Not quite 15 degrees.

But if the formation was even slightly tilted that figure could increase significantly, due to foreshortening.

Interresting do you have a link to that video ?
On that particular night, there were two events that occurred. One witness namely Mitch Stanley, was using a 10-inch Dobsonian scope with 60x magnification. Many reports and statements were made, but surprisingly, not many of them were exactly the same. Some reports mentioned different numbers of lights, lights not in V formation, different sounds or no sounds, differing speeds, and some people even claimed to have seen planes. Naturally, only the most extraordinary reports tend to be highlighted. In my opinion, it was some sort of training event with flares.

Well, having done a bit of trigonometry, an object that was perfectly level, and subtended 5 degrees at 40 degrees elevation, would subtend 9 degrees directly overhead (eighteen times the width of the Moon). Not quite 15 degrees.

But the object never was directly overhead for Stanley. He says it passed over at 60 degrees. When I piece together all the statements the astronomy article is full of contradictory statements.....sometimes even within the same sentence. For example...

"Mitch Stanley estimates 3-5 minutes and he seems to have started seeing them about 20 degrees above the horizon when he stated that they were "...first seen at about 10 degrees over my house to the northwest" (Stanley). "

Why is the Astronomy author changing Stanley's own '10 degrees' to 20 within the same sentence ?

Then we have....

"Since the lights seemed to be moving so slowly, Mitch attempted to capture them in the scope. He succeeded, and the leading three lights fit in his field of vision."

....but later it is 'amost'...

"Mitch Stanley almost fit three (he told me that the third aircraft was just outside the FOV) of the five planes into his field of about a degree from Scottsdale

Then we also have....

"Stanley watched them for about a minute, and then turned away.".....versus....."Mitch Stanley estimates 3-5 minutes and he seems to have started seeing them about 20 degrees above the horizon"

The author seems determined that Stanley saw the object at 20 degrees, in contradiction of what his proclaimed 'skilled observer' himself says. But then he has to claim that, because Stanley seeing the object at 10 degrees and the entire thing lasting 3 - 5 minutes then makes it harder to explain away how others such such as Ley saw the object for a full 15 minutes.

What a mess. This whole thing could have done with one of the excellently designed MOD reports for UFOs, well laid out and asking all the right questions and containing diagrams etc.

First 2 objects. As I have pointed out many times. The third object was outside the field of view, according to his correspondence with Printy.

That's not what he originally said, though. Thus we have the same article clearly claiming all 3 fit inside the field of view, and then claiming it was 'almost'. They can't both be correct....and the 'almost' is a later statement.

"Mitch Stanley estimates 3-5 minutes and he seems to have started seeing them about 20 degrees above the horizon when he stated that they were "...first seen at about 10 degrees over my house to the northwest" (Stanley). "

Why is the Astronomy author changing Stanley's own '10 degrees' to 20 within the same sentence ?
How many degrees tall was the house, I wonder, from where Stanley was set up?

How many degrees tall was the house, I wonder, from where Stanley was set up?

This is the junction referred to in the Astronomy article.....North 64th Street and East Shea Boulevard...which he lived somewhere near....and facing NW as the article says Stanley was. Back in 1999 I used to go through this junction every day on the way to work....

I suspect that Printy was estimating that Stanley could not see the flight until it was 20 degrees above the horizon. This may have been an error- there are several things I might have asked Stanley that Printy didn't, but for the most part Printy's correspondence with Stanley was quite comprehensive.

@Tim Printy was posting here a couple of years ago; if he drops by we may be able to ask him ourselves.

I suspect that Printy was estimating that Stanley could not see the flight until it was 20 degrees above the horizon. This may have been an error- there are several things I might have asked Stanley that Printy didn't, but for the most part Printy's correspondence with Stanley was quite comprehensive.

@Tim Printy was posting here a couple of years ago; if he drops by we may be able to ask him ourselves.

It just occurred to me after reading the 'Talk' section of the Wikipedia article on the incident that nowhere in any of the documentation on Stanley are we given the time of his sighting. It is simply 'that night'. Neither do we have any time ( or even a date for that matter ) for the Proctor video. For an event that generated 2000 alleged witness the lack of even the most basic details in some cases is shocking.

How do we know Stanley and Proctor saw the 8.00pm incident and not the 10.00 pm one ?

For an event that generated 2000 alleged witness
this was a silent event, more or less, so probably only a few people saw the first event, not 'hundreds' or 'thousands'. Tim Printy lists about 40, which is quite an impressive number, really.
There's a lot of difference between "2000" and "40" witnesses. Can either of you clarify your numbers?

How do we know Stanley and Proctor saw the 8.00pm incident and not the 10.00 pm one ?
The 10 pm incident does not match what Stanley described, as the 10 pm "UFOs" were not planes, which he saw crossing the sky and viewed through his scope, but was flares on the other side of a mountain range that just went downwards.

Nor does the video Proctor took look like the flare incident at 10 pm. Proctor vid shows a rough V formation of lights, which matches descriptions of the earlier event. Vids and pics of the later incident show a rough line of more or fewer lights (changes over time) appearing in the sky and then settling towards and being blocked by a mountain as they drop lower.

It could be worth debating whether (1)Stanley and Proctor saw the same "UFO" as everybody else saw, or whether (2)there was BOTH a flight of 5 planes seen by Stanley, Proctor and presumably some other witnesses, and was ALSO another V shaped formation of 5 lights at around the same time that might have all been on one huge flying object, or might have been another set of discrete aircraft each with a light, or might have been something else as yet unknown. To me Occam's Razor favors the first over any variation of the second, but it could be debated. But the idea that Proctor and/or Stanley saw the second event does not seem tenable, to me.

Approximately 40 witnesses are listed on Tim Printy's website, here.
http://web.archive.org/web/20080321054330/http://members.aol.com/tprinty/azwit.html

Since that time an increasingly large number of people have claimed to see either or both events; probably significantly more than 2000. However I have my doubts that some, or many, of these reports are accurate recollections, for a wide range of reasons.

For instance, some of these witnesses (like Fife Symington) seem to be describing the second event, while placing it at 8:00pm. I think quite a few of these are describing their memories of the various film clips showing the second event as if they were first hand accounts.

But the object never was directly overhead for Stanley. He says it passed over at 60 degrees. When I piece together all the statements the astronomy article is full of contradictory statements.....sometimes even within the same sentence. For example...

"Mitch Stanley estimates 3-5 minutes and he seems to have started seeing them about 20 degrees above the horizon when he stated that they were "...first seen at about 10 degrees over my house to the northwest" (Stanley). "

Why is the Astronomy author changing Stanley's own '10 degrees' to 20 within the same sentence ?
How is this contradictory? The top edge of the roof of the nearby house has to be X number of degrees above the horizon. If X = ten degrees and the group was first seen 10 degrees above the roof... that equals 20 degrees above the horizon.

Top edge of roof = 10 degrees above horizon
Formation of lights first seen = 10 degrees above roof

Top of roof 10 degrees above horizon + formation 10 degrees above top of roof = formation 20 degrees above horizon

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Approximately 40 witnesses are listed on Tim Printy's website, here.
http://web.archive.org/web/20080321054330/http://members.aol.com/tprinty/azwit.html

Since that time an increasingly large number of people have claimed to see either or both events; probably significantly more than 2000. However I have my doubts that some, or many, of these reports are accurate recollections, for a wide range of reasons.

For instance, some of these witnesses (like Fife Symington) seem to be describing the second event, while placing it at 8:00pm. I think quite a few of these are describing their memories of the various film clips showing the second event as if they were first hand accounts.
Exactly.

That's not what he originally said, though. Thus we have the same article clearly claiming all 3 fit inside the field of view, and then claiming it was 'almost'. They can't both be correct....and the 'almost' is a later statement.

https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/astronomy-hacks/0596100604/ch04s15.html#:~:text=Any combination of telescope and,stop diameter of the eyepiece.
Any combination of telescope and eyepiece has a specific true field of view (TFoV), which is determined solely by the focal length of the telescope and the field stop diameter of the eyepiece.
The info I've seen is that it was a ten inch Dobsonian with a 60x eyepiece. Do we have the info listed above?

I was never much one for using math to figure out stuff like field of view... but I'll buy one degree. So let's go with that.

However, I've done a lot of looking through telescopes and high power binoculars. One thing that strikes me about your scenario: You're picturing an absolutely steady view, locked onto a single part of the formation. He only saw that single part of the formation.

The guy was tracking moving objects with a ten inch Dobs. The view you'd actually get would be shaky. Very shaky. Even allowing for the narrow field of view... the total "picture" you'd get would be much wider than the view you'd get at any one moment.

In other words... during the total time of the sighting, you could see a substantial part of the formation... bit by bit... even if you only saw one bit at a time.

In fact, given the reality of the situation... you would have to see a substantial part of the formation. No one could track the planes so precisely that the view was locked onto a single part of the formation. Your only-one-degree-field-of-view scenario is an idealized scenario, not a practical one.

You could easily see a substantial part of the formation within seconds, as the field of view wandered across it. Maybe within a single second. A challenge for a human brain to perceive what the eye is seeing within that second.

This guy had a lot of experience looking through eyepieces. Experienced amateur astronomers have trained their brain to understand what they are looking at. Nothing beats experience when it comes to that.

A second factor: The more distant the formation, the more of the formation would fit into the field of view.

High altitude planes through a hand-guided telescope: just an example of what I'm talking about.

@Ballaratairportspotter
1 year ago
Is it difficult following the planes whilst there that high or nah?

@aquatone01
1 year ago
Hey, yeah it's not the easiest to track but the more I do it I seem to get a bit better at tracking. I reckon the higher they are the easier. The ones I am shooting are around 20000ft.

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A bit of an aside, but, the term "trained observer" is bandied about a lot. But amateur astronomers fit the this description a lot better than most of the people to whom the term is applied. They actually do something on a regular basis to train their brain to perceive.

When it comes to the quality of visual perception being a "solid citizen" rather than a beatnik doesn't mean a thing. The Solid Citizen Fallacy should be dead, but this zombie keeps on shambling along in UFO folklore. The false dichotomy is between visual perception and the hallucinations of a kook. As if you have to be hallucinating to misperceive. The true issue is quality of visual perception. How well does a Solid Citizen perceive?

Then there is the related issue: What is a "trained observer"? Are cops and pilots really trained observers? (Or are they just high in social status? So high that you're a bad person if you question the reliability of their perceptions.)

Is a governor a reliable eye-witness? Of course! He's a solid citizen and a pilot! Checkmate!

Hendry, A. (1980). The Ufo handbook: A guide to investigating, evaluating and reporting Ufo sightings. Sphere.

In the UFO sighting reports Hendry took directly from eye-witnesses, the misperception failure rate for pilots was 75%; 94% for cops.

A cop is a trained observer because he takes reports. But how has a cop trained his brain to process the data the retina of the eye is presenting to it via the optic nerve? More than the average person? How?

How has a governor done the same?

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Is a governor a reliable eye-witness? Of course! He's a solid citizen and a pilot!
Also a convicted fraudster, but that doesn't seem to count for much these days.

A bit of an aside, but, the term "trained observer" is bandied about a lot. But amateur astronomers fit the this description a lot better than most of the people to whom the term is applied. They actually do something on a regular basis to train their brain to perceive.

I am an amateur astronomer myself...been one since 1974. My telescope goes from 35x magnification to 140x...depending on the eyepiece inserted. The 35x has a field of view of about one degree.....same as Stanley's telescope ( which actually had a magnification of 47x and not 60x.....the Astronomy article corrects that ).

The real issue is that the Astronomy article maths don't add up. I can see why he wants Stanley to have first observed the sighting at 20 degrees, because using his own calculations Stanley would have seen the UFO for 8-10 minutes from 10 degrees and not the 3-5 minutes and 10 degrees that Stanley actually says. This is a really bad case of someone changing the witnesses own statements to fit a narrative....and then having the gall to praise the witness as a skilled observer !

Even if Stanley did see a flight of craft and the whole UFO flap is that flight....I still find the article really bad science. Cherry picking some bits, ignoring others, altering what witnesses said, squeezing stuff into a pre-conceived narrative. If witness statements disagree, one should not simply ignore or change the outliers. One should do what a good CSI investigation would do and ask why there is disagreement.

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How is this contradictory? The top edge of the roof of the nearby house has to be X number of degrees above the horizon. If X = ten degrees and the group was first seen 10 degrees above the roof... that equals 20 degrees above the horizon.

Top edge of roof = 10 degrees above horizon
Formation of lights first seen = 10 degrees above roof

Top of roof 10 degrees above horizon + formation 10 degrees above top of roof = formation 20 degrees above horizon

I don't think any 'skilled observer' in astronomy would ever say ' 10 degrees over my house' meaning literally10 degrees above his roof....as nobody has the faintest idea how high his roof is or how far he was from it. Even a starter in amateur astronomy learns to give true celestial co-ordinates and not meaningless comparisons to houses. I'd receive quite a snotty response from the British Astronomical Association if I said I'd spotted a new comet and it was located ' 10 degrees above my house '.

If Stanley really is a 'skilled observer' then its clear what he means is the object is at 10 degrees above the horizon...and over his house. Notice he says 'over' and not 'above'.

The 10 pm incident does not match what Stanley described, as the 10 pm "UFOs" were not planes, which he saw crossing the sky and viewed through his scope, but was flares on the other side of a mountain range that just went downwards.

"A flight schedule from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, shows that a squadron of planes from Operation Snowbird left at 8:15 p.m. on March 13 and returned at 10:30 p.m. A spokesman for Luke Air Force Base confirmed that the Maryland planes were authorized to use the Barry Goldwater range from 9:30 to 10 p.m."

https://www.newspapers.com/article/arizona-republic-phoenix-lights-flare-ex/19368586/

Davis-Monthan base is in Tuscon. Those planes were clearly doing a lot more than just fly to the Barry Goldwater Range and back...300 mile round trip, if they were doing 300mph for over 2 hours. What were they doing in the missing hour ?

Also, if the 8.00 event was caused by Warthogs and the 10.00 event was also caused by Warthogs....its a little perplexing that nobody claims to have seen the planes for the 10.00 event.

Also, if the 8.00 event was caused by Warthogs and the 10.00 event was also caused by Warthogs....its a little perplexing that nobody claims to have seen the planes for the 10.00 event.
I find myself unperplexed. The "UFOs" in the second event, way over on the other side of a mountain range, were not planes, they were flares dropped from planes. If you looked at them with binoculars or a scope, you would not see planes, you'd see single bright lights.

I don't think any 'skilled observer' in astronomy would ever say...
Not a true Scotsman astronomer, anyway.

...' 10 degrees over my house' meaning literally10 degrees above his roof....as nobody has the faintest idea how high his roof is or how far he was from it.
HE would.