Reddit post: Glowing orbs I filmed on a flight from Vegas to Boston. More details in comments.

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Well it definitely didn’t in this case because the time says 7:53 but we landed 30 minutes later and it was 11:30 PM.

Now that I watch the video on Reddit, it’s not very impressive. It’s a whole different experience when you zoom in. Hopefully someone can edit it to show what it looks like zoomed in. The objects look like glowing balls of energy with a brighter outer ring around them that seem to be changing slightly in shape. Like elongating then going back to round.

Jet Blue flight B6 178 on 2/9/2023. I filmed this on my iPhone 12 Pro Max. Time stamp on the video is 7:53 PM but that would be Vegas time since my phone hadn’t switched back to east coast time because it was in airplane mode. This was about 30-45 minutes before we landed. I wish I had taken note of exactly where we were but if I know one thing about Reddit, it’s that someone on here will be able to tell me exactly where my flight was at 7:53. My friend was sitting in the window seat and opened the shade to take a look. He saw these “orbs” and told me to take a look. I was in the middle seat. I immediately took out my phone to film the video because the objects seemed too close to us and each other, based on what little I know about the amount of space they are required to keep between planes. It was a long day and we landed in Boston close to midnight so I quickly forgot about it. Saw the video in my phone yesterday and decided to zoom in on the objects for the first time. That’s when I realized this was something strange. They appear to be glowing orange orbs with a yellow or white outer layer that is also glowing. They also appear to change shape almost like a liquid. I know nothing about video editing but would love to see if someone could pull more detail out of this. I wish I had thought to zoom in more at the time. The file is just whatever format iPhone records in but I’d be willing to send it to someone if anyone is interested in trying to enhance the video. If that’s even possible.
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it looks like reflections of incandescent light bulbs to me, with the arc of the filament showing inside the circle.

the "elongation" appears to be motion blur.
Let's start with the basics.

The auto-focus mechanism of the camera focused the lens - mostly! - on the window frame. If these are distant objects outside of the plane, they are out of focus.

If these are reflections of interior lights, there are two factors which could cause them to be out of focus.

-They are more distant than the window frame. An image in a mirror or window is in focus when you take into account the total distance of the camera from the mirror or window PLUS the distance of the object from the window.

-The image of the window frame itself is not in good focus. If the lens is in focus part of the way between the window frame and infinity, that could put interior light reflections out of focus as well.

They appear to be glowing orange orbs with a yellow or white outer layer that is also glowing.
Lights that are out of focus will show strange effects. These reported effects are very likely due to the images being out of focus.

What are they?

Out of focus car lights. Telephoto lens.

What's this?

An out of focus star in a telescope.

Because the cars and the star are distant objects, the images flicker due to the atmosphere disturbing the light path. Scintillation. The star flickers more because it's more distant and seen through more air.

They also appear to change shape almost like a liquid.
-Changing the focus of an out of focus image will change the image size and shape.
-This also could also be caused by scintillation.

These reported changes may be due to the auto-focus mechanism being confused and changing the focus slightly.

Movements of the lights relative to the window frame may be partially or entirely due to parallax effects.

I think most of the movements we see in this video are due to parallax effects.

The lights do move relative to one another. That means the actual light sources were moving relative to one another. That's consistent with the lights being distant objects outside the plane or interior lights. It's not consistent with them being astronomical bodies, fixed lights on the exterior of the plane, or distant ground lights.

I think I see some strobing on at least one of the lights. This could be consistent with the strobe lights on a distant aircraft. But I can't be sure I'm really seeing this.

But I'm leaning toward two out of focus airliners. It's not at all an unusual thing to see other planes out the window.

Flight Path - designated route followed by airplanes in flying from one airport to another.

I myself have seen that lot's of times. But I'm an eccentric who spends almost the entire flight looking out the window. There are lot's of things to see, if you look.

I remember one flight from Sacramento to Las Vegas at night, seeing a dozen other planes heading the opposite direction to my plane, not very far away; passing one by one. Shining like jewels.

The naked eye observations of the witness -
They appear to be glowing orange orbs with a yellow or white outer layer that is also glowing.

... could well be due to scintillation due to very turbulent atmosphere. It's been stormy lately.

Even when you're on the ground you can see not very distant ground lights scintillate. It depends on how turbulent the air is.

Or the window could be dirty, wet or icy.
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That means the actual light sources were moving relative to one another.
could also be the observer moving; if I move closer to two stationary lights, they'll seem to move apart. But their size would change correspondingly.


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If that were the case, these planes would heading more or less toward the observer, and the powerful landing lights of these planes would be visible.
In Google Earth... the perspective and relative position of the two 'orbs' seems to match with the original video....

Yup, they match perfectly throughout the entire video and to the second.

Metadata from the uncompressed Dropbox video
Creation Date                   : 2023:02:09 19:53:05-08:00
So 03:53:05 UTC on the 10th.

At 00:00 / 03:53:05

At 00:27 / 00:53:32

At 00:36 / 00:53:41
The apparent 2-D motion of the lights - one leading the other on a purely lateral course, and pulling ahead of the other - is an illusion. The actual 3-D motion is due to two planes on the same course - somewhat diagonal to the observer - with one closer to the observer. The closer one has a faster apparent lateral motion due to perspective distortion.

Lastly, the lights may appear orangish because of Rayleigh scattering.

When direct light [passes through] the atmosphere, it begins to scatter around. However, this scattering is color dependent. Higher frequency visible light, that means light near the blue end of the visible spectrum, is scattered almost ten times as much as light near the red end of the spectrum.

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