What is this? [Moonlit contrail cross]

terri

New Member
Observed this from my backyard in New Freedom, Pa, around 1:15 am this
morning. It was cross shaped in front of the moon. By the time I ran back to get my camera, it already started to dissipate. Excuse my lousy picture. Looks as though they are two separate contrails, but a vertical one, and that thick so close to my backyard? It may not be as close as it appears, but it sure did look close!

Besides seeing this from my living room door (which faces the backyard) I then stepped outback and heard what sounded like an animal that had just been in-humanly trapped, as the noise was gut wrenching. The screaming noise was coming from the same direction as my "contrails" picture. The entire event was frightening, to me. Does anyone have any idea what I saw in the sky?
image.jpg
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
I think it's pretty much what you described, two contrails crossed over at right angles highlighted by the moon - there's nothing really untoward about it, except the lighting and arrangement making it impressive. As they are lit objects in a night sky they seem more substantial than they would during the day.
The moon, the dead of night, the cross, and the cry of a wild animal, are all potent symbols that would combine to to make the experience more intense to you subjectively and give a feeling of 'strangeness' and even the paranormal, but I can't see anything more than that to it.
It's just the world going on around you combining in an interesting way.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
Fligtradar24 playback shows two planes crossing their routes north of New Freedom, Pa at about 05:00 UTC (01:00 am EDT). Probably, these are their contrails slightly aged and carried by the wind toward the town. The right angle between them in the photo is probably due perspective:
New freedom.png
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
I have revised my analysis. The calculated altitude and azimuth of the Moon at New Freedom, Pa for June 8th, 1:15 am EDT are about 13° and 249°, respectively. This places the contrail crossing point more than 50 km away from the town in SWW direction, somewhere north of Frederic, Md. The distance on the ground to the crossing point can be calculated as the contrail altitude (e.g, 11.5 km) divided by tan 13° (0.23).

The Flightradar24 playback (as above) shows Flight TSC815 passing above that area at 4:50 UTC (0:50 am EDT), with TOM33 crossing its path at nearly right angle five minutes later. Interestingly, a small plane LJ45 has flown in the opposite direction to TOM33 along the same route. Enhancing the image in OP shows the second vertical contrail partly obscured by the tree.
Screen shot 2014-06-08 at 16.03.36.png
 
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WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Looks as though they are two separate contrails, but a vertical one, and that thick so close to my backyard? It may not be as close as it appears, but it sure did look close!

As already pointed out, the image (of two contrails that intersected) was made more illusory because of the lighting conditions (aka, the Moon).

It is an optical illusion at times when viewing a completely horizontal (in reality) contrail from the ground, when it appears "vertical". This was a well-publicized and discussed event, when a normal contrail illuminated by the setting Sun appeared to resemble a missile contrail, tracking vertically from the Earth's surface:
http://contrailscience.com/los-angeles-missile-contrail-explained-in-pictures/

Also, the actual altitude of the contrails is another illusion...they were by definition in the range of at least (usually) more than 25,000 feet (about five miles) overhead, likely a few thousand feet higher.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Looks as though they are two separate contrails, but a vertical one, and that thick so close to my backyard? It may not be as close as it appears, but it sure did look close!


Via: http://contrailscience.com/contrails-are-usually-horizontal/

Here’s a perfectly horizontal grid of lines at 5 mile intervals, at 36,000 feet, above San Francisco, and the Golden Gate Bridge, viewed from space.



Here’s a closer view:



Here’s the view from the ground



Notice that even though all the lines are ALL perfectly horizontal, some look like they are going up in the air, and where they intersect, you get a cross.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Here's some moonlit contrails over my house - again these are all horizontal.

I've inserted your photo using the moon for scale. The contrails are not unusually large.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
is that another "horizontal" contrail in the lower right hand corner as well?

Probably. If this is another contrail, it is even more distant than the horizontal one in the 'cross', which is at least 50 km (30 miles) away. There have been some more distant planes flying in S-N direction just before 1:00 am EDT.
 

terri

New Member
I want to thank everyone for your explanation/s of what I saw facing me in my backyard last weekend. I did not look at the exact time I took the picture before writing my first post, but have since. I took the picture at exactly 1:05 am EST on Sunday June 8th.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
I took the picture at exactly 1:05 am EST on Sunday June 8th.

Did you actually mean 1:05 EDT? The calculated positions of the Moon and the crossing point of the contrails from the TCS815 and TOM33 in the sky for that time are very similar and consistent with your photo. There is nothing that close for one hour earlier.
 
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