San Diego Silver Sphere Videoed By Rick Ybarra, 2014 [Probably a Ballon Model]

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bUSxQwt4x0



On September 10th, 2014, Rick Ybarra pulled into his driveway near San Diego, CA around 6:45pm when he noticed a sphere in the sky. A retired Department of Defense therapist who worked at Naval Base San Diego and Submarine Base Point Loma, we recently spoke to him about the sighting.

The sphere had four meaningful observables, which were photographed in detail and captured on video:

*Stop/start movement
*Failure to move with the wind
*Metallic appearance
*Seemingly independent moving antennae-like appendages

It was 4-6 feet in size and 400 feet above the ground — Ybarra states he first thought it was a balloon, but slowly moved away from the hypothesis when it failed to move with the wind, and had a distinct metallic shell reflecting the twilight to the west.
Content from External Source
Metabunk 2020-09-05 18-52-39.jpg

This one has been around for a while, the original YouTube video is from 2014. But it seems to have gotten renewed interest.

My initial observation is that it's pretty consistent with a balloon tethered with fishing line. It also strongly resembles the Sputnik 1 satellite.
tdih-oct04-HD.jpg

So my first guess would be someone, maybe school kids, making a sputnik model out of a large sliver helium balloon, and then flying it.
 

Woolery

Active Member
Thank you. My first thought was balloon as well. And it appears To have a crooked seam that runs just under the row of black rectangles, like the top and bottom halves are mismatched. It has a high-school-project look in that respect.

What initially caught my interest, however, was how genuinely weathered it looked. Given how shoddy it’s construction appeared, if the weathering was an intentional touch, I wouldn’t expect it to look so genuine. And the position of the rods was odd. It almost looks as though it’s a smaller piece of a larger industrial framework, within which the rods served as struts.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Here's the NUFORC report:
http://www.nuforc.org/webreports/137/S137140.html

Occurred : 9/10/2014 18:30 (Entered as : 09/10/14 18:30)
Reported: 11/6/2017 9:53:59 AM 09:53
Posted: 11/9/2017
Location: San Diego, CA
Shape: Sphere
Duration:45 min

Orb over San Diego 10 Sep 2014.

I pulled into my driveway at around 6:30 p.m. on 10 Sep 2014. I saw an object just to the right of my home and seemed to be hovering slightly above and behind my next door neighbor's home. The object reflected the late afternoon orange glow. The sky was clear that evening. At first I thought it may be a globe commonly seen hanging on power lines, but then realized there were no power lines in that area. I could see no means of flight and there was absolutely no sound coming from the object. I thought it was about 500 ft above the ground and I could see some details. It appeared to be a small object about 4-6 ft in diameter. The object appeared to gently sway as if impacted by a breeze, of which there was very little. It eventually drifted away to the Southwest and out of sight.

I went inside and got my camera and took almost 3 dz photos. Also during the observation, I picked up my video camera and took about 12 min of video of the object toward the end of my sighting. I observed the object for about 45 min in total (according to the time and date stamps on my photos). I had to move my position to a different part of my backyard in order to continue to track the object as it drifted away. Finally it became too dark to track. Also I forgot to take my video camera out of auto focus, so as it got darker and the leaves of the trees moved, the object appears to go in and out of focus. That was my error.

The first 2-3 min were observed without equipment. Then I secured my camera(s) for the remainder of the time. When I put the photos on my computer I could see more detail and noted 3 antenna or rods attached to the object. There is an airport a few miles away and airplanes were flying in the background, but none came near or even close to the object.

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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
And the MUFON report
https://mufoncms.com/cgi-bin/report...=f1_submitted_datetime+DESC&case_number=59799

I was coming home about 1855 when I pulled into my driveway. Above and beyond my neighbors home I noticed a bright orb hovering. It reflected the sunset orange, and that is why I noticed it; besides it was a completely clear blue sky. I thought it could be a balloon or some sort of odd looking helicopter, but it didn't have any rotors. It appeared to have rods or antenna coming out of it. I went to my backyard to get a better view. I appeared to be less than a mile away over residences. I got my camera about 5 min later and set up my tripod. I took a few photos. Then got my video camera and began to shoot video too for about 20 min. Over the approx 45 mins that I watched it, there was some wavering like it was being affected by air movement. At times it would descend behind a large tree, then reappear slowly as it came out from behind the tree. The object remained relatively stable then started to slowly drift away to the SW until I couldn't see it anymore because it was too dark. I was intrigued by it. My photos showed that it indeed had 3 rods coming from it.
Content from External Source
Attached is the file from MUFON. It is edited, but seems to have the original EXIF data.

EXIF data:
ApertureF6.3
Body Serial Number3016583
Color Filter Array Pattern2 0 2 0 1 2 0 1
ContrastHard
Custom RenderedNormal process
Date and Time (digitized)2014:09:10 18:35:52
Date and Time (original)2014:09:10 18:35:52
Digital Zoom Ratio1.0
Exif Version2.30
Exposure Bias0 EV
Exposure ModeAuto
Exposure ProgramNot defined
Exposure Time1/100 s
File SourceDigital still camera
FlashNo flash
FNumberF6.3
Focal Length270.0 mm
Focal Length In 35mm Film405.0 mm
Gain ControlLow gain up
ISO Speed Ratings640
Lens Model18.0-270.0 mm f/3.5-6.3
 

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Woolery

Active Member
Why doesn't the video continue at the 9:29 mark when it looks like it is being pulled back down to the ground but no more video after this starts to happen. Hmmm, Very fishy.
I posted the moment the balloon is being pulled back to the ground...
Source: https://youtu.be/5bUSxQwt4x0?t=569
I think what you’re looking at may not be the full length video. At one point he stops filming because trees interfere with his line of sight and then resumes filming from another area of his home. He continues until darkness forces him to stop. I’ll include the link to the full video on YouTube (which includes his audio), but I’m new here and afraid I’m not linking the video properly. I apologize ahead of time. Mods: can you help me with formatting this correctly?

Source: https://youtu.be/W6B48Eb6Fno
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
And regarding that ring of black squares:

Metabunk 2020-09-06 16-15-37.jpg

It looks like one of the rings around Telstar, the first telecommunication satellite.


Which all makes me think even more that it's something like a school science or art project. "Build a helium balloon that looks like a satellite"
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
The extended EXIF data is really useful
  • The camera is a Nikon D80 with a 1.5x crop factor and a sensor resolution of 3872 x 2592 pixels (10MP.)
  • The lens appears to be a Nikon fit Tamron 18-270mm which has a full frame equivalent focal length of 405mm on this 1.5x crop camera. The maximum focal length of 270mm is used for the shot.
  • The size of the Nikon D80 sensor is 23.6 mm × 15.8 mm.
  • The image is cropped in Lightroom to 634x528 (it's unclear if any resizing has been done.)
  • The object pictured is a sphere/circle and is approximately 170 pixels across.
  • The most interesting EXIF data is the presence of the <aux:ApproximateFocusDistance> tag which is a calculation inside the camera based on lens and AF position to provide a distance in to the subject, this value is given as '944/10' which is 94.4 metres. This value is an estimate by the camera however in my experience as a wildlife photographer the value is fairly accurate at least to within a few metres.
If we assume no image resizing was performed and the camera was used at it's maxiumum resolution and use the calculator at https://www.scantips.com/lights/subjectdistance.html with the known properties of the camera and use the estimated focal distance, we get an estimate object size of 55 centimeters. Whilst this is not 100% certain it provides a ballpark figure.

Also if something is at "infinity focus" (very far away stuff like planes) then you get something like:

<aux:ApproximateFocusDistance>4294967295/1</aux:ApproximateFocusDistance>

Can anyone check my working here?
 
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Rocky

Active Member
I think what you’re looking at may not be the full length video. At one point he stops filming because trees interfere with his line of sight and then resumes filming from another area of his home. He continues until darkness forces him to stop. I’ll include the link to the full video on YouTube (which includes his audio), but I’m new here and afraid I’m not linking the video properly. I apologize ahead of time. Mods: can you help me with formatting this correctly?

Source: https://youtu.be/W6B48Eb6Fno
You can see it wobbling like a tethered balloon at the end of the video.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The most interesting EXIF data is the presence of the <aux:ApproximateFocusDistance> tag which is a calculation inside the camera based on lens and AF position to provide a distance in to the subject, this value is given as '944/10' which is 94.4 metres. This value is an estimate by the camera however in my experience as a wildlife photographer the value is fairly accurate at least to within a few metres.
That's very interesting, and useful. I was not even aware of this. With my own camera (Canon 7D, first generation), looking for that number, I discover it gives a range.

| | | | FocusDistanceUpper = 378
| | | | FocusDistanceLower = 286

Which is in CM, 2.86 to 3.78m this example is at F/32, which widens the range. The Sphere photo is a F/6.3, so a narrower range, and that 99.4 is probably accurate within 10%.
we get an estimate object size of 55 centimeters.
55cm, a bit over 20 inches. A perfectly reasonable size for a balloon.
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
This is perhaps one great example of the difficulty in judging distance, if the object is a little obscure looking (meaning unrecognisable as a well know object).
 

Max Phalange

Active Member
Apparently the video footage was captured on "digital tape", which would almost certainly mean MiniDV unless the witness was using professional equipment. So the original resolution would have been 480p at worst. The version on YouTube has been through some horrendous compression too, the whole file is <20mb for 12 minutes.

If he provided the original video capture it would probably clear things up a lot.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
Apparently the video footage was captured on "digital tape", which would almost certainly mean MiniDV unless the witness was using professional equipment. So the original resolution would have been 480p at worst. The version on YouTube has been through some horrendous compression too, the whole file is <20mb for 12 minutes.

If he provided the original video capture it would probably clear things up a lot.
In my old miniDV camera there is an SD card slot that allows a quick conversion of 720p DV tapes into MP4 files with a greatly reduced resolution. Perhaps, the original video has undergone a similar treatment.
 

Max Phalange

Active Member
Is this the full res JPG from the Nikon camera, do we have the actual file?

The originals that have been made available can be found here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1EujeQRTkGl7JnbsBAICTDRa34okql9rE?usp=sharing

The filenames suggest there are others in the sequence.

On the first two there's definitely a suggestion of some protuberance at the object's "south pole", could it be a balloon knot?

Apparently you can get a fair bit of paint onto helium balloons without losing their buoyancy.
 
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jarlrmai

Senior Member
The originals that have been made available can be found here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1EujeQRTkGl7JnbsBAICTDRa34okql9rE?usp=sharing

The filenames suggest there are others in the sequence.

On the first two there's definitely a suggestion of some protuberance at the object's "south pole", could it be a balloon knot?

Thanks those images confirm that they were taken at full res of the camera meaning the estimate of object size based on focus distance is at least not way off. The out of focus shots do not give a sensible value meaning the AF did not have a lock.

I saw the "knot" as well, it's in the right place so to speak.

Interesting there's no-one making commentary on the 2 photos taken a low shutter speed (0.8) sec there's a light trail in them both, is this possibly a reflection in a window that the photograph is being taken through. AF assist light? There's a red dot near the second one as well.

CROPPED_DSC_0018-2.jpg
CROPPED_DSC_0020.jpg

DSC_0018-2.jpg
DSC_0020.jpg
 

Max Phalange

Active Member
Those a pretty long exposures, perhaps just an aircraft and a bit of camera shake? Even though it's tripod-mounted, with a long lens just pushing the shutter causes some wobble. An aircraft would explain the red light in one of them, if it's a strobe (since it doesn't form a streak like the white light).

Maybe those shots were just intended to illustrate an object passing behind it?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member

jarlrmai

Senior Member
Those a pretty long exposures, perhaps just an aircraft and a bit of camera shake? Even though it's tripod-mounted, with a long lens just pushing the shutter causes some wobble. An aircraft would explain the red light in one of them, if it's a strobe (since it doesn't form a streak like the white light).

Maybe those shots were just intended to illustrate an object passing behind it?

I doubt there was any attempt just the camera lowering the shutter speed in aperture priority mode, the max ISO on the camera is 1600 so the shutter speed had to go down to compensate for the lack of light.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Even though it's tripod-mounted, with a long lens just pushing the shutter causes some wobble. An aircraft would explain the red light in one of them, if it's a strobe (since it doesn't form a streak like the white light).

Depending on how good the tripod is, it would also not surprise me to get a bit of vibration even from the fairly gentle breeze we see in the leaves. It's been a bugaboo trying to take pictures of lighted kites at night with a lot of zoom, I know that!
 
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