Frequently Asked Questions:
1) What happened?
On the night of Dec 1, 2022, two people, Ken and Kim, saw some lights moving on some clouds near the town of Fredonia in Wisconsin. They took videos of the light at the same time, but from different locations. Interest in these lights simmered for a while, then Ben Hansen and Brittany Barbieri started an investigation. They were unable to find the source of the lights, and speculated they might be some kind of UAP. They did recognize the lights resembled searchlights or spotlights, but were unable to find any that matched.
2) What are the lights?
The lights appear to be spotlights on the Flanders Family Christmas Lights. A new addition to the locally famous light show, the Flanders installed six powerful spotlights, synchronized to music, that trace out complex patterns. When there is low cloud overhead they spots from the lights can be seen on the clouds.
On the night in question the clouds were at about 6500 feet, and so the moving spots could be seen from over 10 miles away.
3) What evidence is there that it's the Flanders?
A) The spots on the clouds look like spotlights, and the Flanders have powerful moving spotlights that can illuminate clouds
B) The Flanders house is right where the lines of sight of the two video meet, and almost exactly on the more accurate line on sight from Kim's location.
C) The Flanders house Faces Kim, consistent with the movement of the beams
D) A cloud placed at 6500 feet, halfway between the Flanders and Kim, is a perfect match for when the beams are directed towards Kim.
E) The Flanders confirmed that they think the videos show their light
F) The Flanders confirmed that on Dec1, only five lights were working.
G) The 380w spotlights used are about the most powerful consumer spots you can get, easily capable of shining on low cloud in the dark.
4) Why can't we see the beams?
Spotlights are optimized to create beams visible from close up, which means a very powerful narrow beam. A few miles away and you won't be able to see the beam. A visible beam comes from a small amount of light bouncing off dust and moisture in the air along its length. However when the beam hits something like a cloud then ALL the light is reflected creating a bright spot which would obviously be a lot more visible than the beam.
5) How can we see them from so far away?
The lights are very powerful, but to see them you need a line of sight to what they are illuminating. They illuminate the bottom of the cloud layer, and it needs a large even cloud layer at about 6500 feet to create the effect we see.
6) Why are there only five if Flanders has six?
On Dec 1 one light had a bad connection, so only five were working.
7) Why are there trails behind the lights?
There are not. What you see is the beam of light, at a shallow angle, penetrating the clouds
8) Why does the pattern seem not to match perfectly?
The light show is 51 minutes long with 13 unique minutes of spotlight motion set to music. In addition the lights are not always be visible due to uneven cloud cover.
9) Why don't they see it all the time?
This is the first year that the Flanders have had the display. It had only been in place a few days on Dec1. In addition the weather is variable and Dec 1 was likely the best possible conditions for seeing the lights.
10) Didn't Ben Hansen investigate the Flanders house and eliminate it?
He did, using a combination of #4 and #5. However that was a premature elimination, as he mistakenly assumed that if you could not see the beam, then you would not be able to see the spot against the cloud. But, as noted, the spot is a lot brighter. In his tests no clouds were illuminated.
11) Why can't you replicate it?
You could, but you'd need the right weather with an extensive medium-high (6,000 ft) cloud layer. There's only so many days in the season and there's a winter storm. If you want to try, the show runs from 5PM to approximately 10:20PM. But the spotlights are only on for 13 minutes out of the 51 minute set - so keep watching for at least 30 minutes. You might want to check with the Flanders to see if it's on. Then go to 43.448051702, -88.103568870, approximately the intersection of Wallace Lake Road and N Church Road, and look ENE (just to the left of the road, looking east.) You might want to try different locations based on the weather conditions. It will be cold. You might die if you pick a bad day. I'd wait until at least Tue Dec 27, but Dec 29 might be the best bet.
12) How could they be the Flanders if it was at 10:50 and the Flanders light show ends at 10:30
They were testing the lights that night, it was not yet part of the normal program.
The above is a summary of the thread and subsequent investigation, my original first post follows.
Ben Hansen released a video, timed with the publication of a Daily Mail article, about what look like searchlights moving over a cloud layer, viewed simultaneously two two people (Kim, and Ken) in Wisconsin.
From Ben's video description:
At about 10:47PM on December 1, 2022, several witnesses reported seeing what they described as "Firefly" orbish white lights dancing in the sky and coming down beyond to the level of the highway. From two independent locations miles apart, the phenomena was recorded as 5 or more UAPs streaked over the sky in formation underneath cloud cover.
And from the Daily Mail
trange lights shooting across rural Wisconsin skies this month were filmed by witnesses in multiple stunning videos obtained by DailyMail.com – with one having a spooky up-close encounter.
The footage from December 1 shows bright white lights zipping across cloudy skies over the rolling farmland near West Bend and Fredonia, Wisconsin.
Moving at incredible speeds and appearing to come from above the thin cloud layer that night, the phenomena left witnesses believing they had seen a true UFO display.
Rather misleading descriptions, as the lights just look like searchlights (sometimes referred to as spotlights) from the ground shining up on the cloud base (which Ben says is at 6500 feet, based on weather data).
Approximate locations are given in the video, but we are able to more precisely geolocate Kim's based on the road markings and telegraph poles.
This gives us a line of sight, towards the lake, just south of the small town of Belgium, WI
Ken's location and direction are only roughly known, so we can't get a great triangulation. But we see from the motions of the light that the move along Kim's line of sight, and that Ken is looking at them from the side, so it seems like the light source is very roughly in this direction.
Here we see both videos synced, I've added an echo to see the paths of the lights over the cloud layer. The light transition from pointing towards Kim (the grey region in the above Google Earth images) to what looks like a circle over the source.
Objections to the Searchlight explanation include not being able to see the beams, but in this even more dramatic video of lights during the rehearsal of a concert, we see the same effect. Light spots on low cloud, no visible beam.