What is this "weird orb"? [Likely Chinese Lantern]

Qualiall

Member
So, this isn't technically "in the sky" but I guess from the perspective of a mouse it is. My friend's father caught this on film..or rather his motion sensing camera caught it on film. This is in the Western New York area. Apologies if I break any formatting rules.

He is speculating that it may be a methane gas ball, but wanted to run it by you guys to see if there are other theories.

Video: Mystery Orb
Metabunk 2018-07-28 11-55-52.jpg


"Captured this at 8:59 PM on my Video Doorbell Pro on 7/21/18. Weather was calm and cloudy, temperature around 70 degrees with rain imminent. There was no lightning in the area and no other external lighting nearby except for the string lights you can see on the deck in the background. Camera is in infrared mode and there were no motion events detected for over two hours before this one. There is no sound associated with it. The spot on the ground where the light is first seen is about 24 feet from the camera. My working theory, unverified, is that this is a pocket of methane or other gas, as it seems to originate close to a septic tank vent in the yard. Another theory is ball lightning."
Content from External Source
[Mick: link above has embedding disabled, Added the following with possible explanation]
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO9pFD8oPj8
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Could you ask him to turn on embedding?

Metabunk 2018-07-26 14-40-10.jpg



It does look like a real object moving in that space. The lighting seems to match up.
Mystery-Orb.gif

Metabunk 2018-07-26 14-49-27.jpg

Metabunk 2018-07-26 14-49-55.jpg
Metabunk 2018-07-26 14-50-20.jpg

The "shadow" is odd though. It's casting light on the scene, but it's also casting a shadow beneath it.
Metabunk 2018-07-26 15-01-58.jpg

This shadow dances around, which makes it seem like it's a very small light source, moving like a moth.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Here's the shadow.
Mystery-Orb-2.gif

One possibility is a chinese lantern.
Metabunk 2018-07-26 15-13-16.jpg
The burning fuel element would give the IR illumination, and the flickering flame would account for the shadow.
Metabunk 2018-07-26 15-14-33.jpg
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
While the "Chinese lantern" theory does obviously raise several questions (how did it get there?) It's something that could be tested. I would do it myself, except round these parts I'd start a fire and get arrested.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
it was motion tripped so unfortunately no :(

So this video starts when the motion detector triggered the camera? That implies that the object "came into existence" at that moment... as far as the motion detector is concerned. Is the motion detector purely an IR detector? This would seem to be consistent with the ignition of a ball of gas. But what about that shadow?

Wild theory - Could a chinese lantern with the flame gone (mostly) out fall out of the sky and then re-ignite when it hit the ground?

In other words, it's warm on the way down, but below the threshold for the IR detector to trip the camera, but above the threshold for the IR detector to trip the camera after re-ignition?
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
That implies that the object "came into existence" at that moment... as far as the motion detector is concerned.

There is a distance factor with motion detectors. You have be in range to activate them.

To me it looks like the thing was blowing along the ground toward that mound in the middle of the yard. as it rolls up the mound it gets launched into the air, like Evil Kenevil on a ramp.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I wonder if it could be a Wubble Bubble. If you take a Wubble Bubble Bright, then put the LED inside a Bubble Wubble Glo and then fill it up with the Helium from the Bubble Wubble and hold it under a lamp until it's hot (that's what makes it Glo in the dark... the nozzle part could be casting the shadow from the LED light. ??

*although I imagine you could heat up a regular WB Brite since with infrared you really wouldn't need it to glow in the dark.

upload_2018-7-27_0-58-9.png

here's how the helium ones move about
[edit: wrong vid sorry.]
]Source: https://youtu.be/P3ChuEdRPSE?t=79[/U]
 

DeBean

New Member
Could this be a bioluminescent insect? Something about the shadow underneath resembles an insects motion to me and summer is the right time to see them in New York.
https://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/news-posts/the-bugs-of-summer-fireflies/

I understand that light would not be picked up by the IR sensor and the best information on the device I can find states it uses both IR and the camera to detect motion but I am unable to find any data on if it combines IR with optical video.

These are the two types of motion detection systems Ring uses in its products:

  • Standard Motion Detection: This system runs using passive infrared sensors and is featured in all of Ring's battery-based products. It is optimized for low-power operations to save on battery power. Ring's three-sensor system allows for significant customization.
  • Advanced Motion Detection: This system uses a camera for motion detection rather than the heat signatures used by the passive infrared sensors. It's featured in all of Ring's AC-powered products and is optimized for a fuller feature set and allows a greater degree of customization.
Content from External Source
https://support.ring.com/hc/en-us/a...Motion-Detection-Systems-Used-in-Ring-Devices
 

Ray Von Geezer

Senior Member.
Regarding CCTV motion detection, a lot of digital systems use frame comparison, they record constantly but only retain when differences between frames trigger it.

Because the sensitivity can be set it's not unusual for small or slow moving objects to be below the threshold. I'll frequently see a cat or fox "appear" because they crept into view.

It'd be useful to know what kind of motion detection was used.

It could be a lantern that floated slowly in with the candle guttering, then reignited?

Edited to add - Ring devices apparently have IR detection in battery devices, digital in mains powered, per the link DeBean already posted ( https://support.ring.com/hc/en-us/a...Motion-Detection-Systems-Used-in-Ring-Devices ).

Looking again, the object looks to be already moving towards the camera when it "appears" so I think the most plausible explanation is the one that has it coming into detection range.

Ray Von
 
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Alexandria Nick

Active Member
I'm trying to gauge the size of it. From the looks of it, that circular feature on the ground looks to be about six feet across. But, I'm basing that on what I'm guessing is a bird feeder on that pole and ballparking that at around a foot wide. That would put the object at 30 inches or so?

Once it passes out of frame, it looks like you can still see the flickering lighting up the trees in the upper left hand corner. I've never actually seen a sky lantern before. Are they that bright?

I also get the strangest impression that it is rotating clockwise on the Y axis. That could just be a trick of the eye from the flicker, but, at the same time, it does make a bit of a turn to the viewer's left too. Sort of like how the spin on a golf ball would make it fade.
 

Ray Von Geezer

Senior Member.
I think judging the size from the object itself is difficult, glare is always a problem for CCTV cameras, especially consumer grade ones, and the glare makes small bright objects look much bigger than they really are.

Cam2.20180728_004430_1.jpg

They tend not to have Wide Dynamic Range either, so light sources and illumination look brighter than they would to the naked eye. Same effect as how a photo taken in a room with a window can make the room look dark and the window a solid white block of light. I'm sure one of our photographers will be able to explain why it happens (related to exposure I believe).

That said I don't think it is small, because if you look at the right of the video a light comes on at about 4 seconds - look at the banister rail, lawn and the lighting and shadow on the sign. It looks to be like a security or courtesy light coming on, probably an IR sensor triggered by the object. As an aside, this is contrary to the text accompanying the video which says there is no other lighting, but likely just an oversight. I think that light, the image becoming lighter once the glare has gone, combined with the CCTV over-emphasising the amount of illumination is probably making it look like the object is illuminating the area more than it actually is.

ETA - of course there is yet another light source, the IR from the camera itself, and IR does make reflective objects look extremely bright. I doubt that's what's causing the object to glow and illuminate the ground though because of the distance and the shadow, unless the shadow was actually a non-reflective area on the object which could explain the erratic movement.

It'd be interesting to try with something reflective, like a foil balloon.

Ray Von
 
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JFDee

Senior Member.
the "Chinese lantern" theory does obviously raise several questions (how did it get there?)
I suspect a hoax, possibly by the owner of the camera. I'm sure it is either feasible to move very slowly to not trigger the camera or to edit the video after the recording.

All you'd have to do is to place the lantern on that spot shortly after lighting the heat source. It will rise on its own after a while. The area looks like it's decently wind-protected.

BTW, there is no indication that the video actually runs in real time. It might be time-compressed, possibly by the recording system itself.
 

JFDee

Senior Member.
Looking more closely at the actual camera the video creator used, the "Ring Video Doorbell Pro", it has some interesting features. Apart from actual recording only working with a subscription (by streaming the video over your own WiFi to the manufacturer's servers - not my ideal vision of 'security'), it appears that you can adjust the areas for motion triggering quite comfortably.

https://support.ring.com/hc/en-us/a...zing-Motion-Zones-with-your-Ring-Doorbell-Pro
Motion Zones allow you to define a specific area that you want your Ring to cover while ignoring everything outside that area. By drawing your motion zones to exclude frequently accessed areas such as public paths and roads, you can reduce the number of "false positive" motion alerts (such as cars driving by) and greatly increase the effectiveness of your Ring.
Content from External Source

Consequently, it would be easy to target a specific area for the triggering (or indeed activate the camera only after placing the balloon).
 
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Ray Von Geezer

Senior Member.
There's another feature of motion detection that could be relevant - the ability to record video from before the trigger. It's certainly a feature I'd expect to find on this kind of device, but I can't find a setting documented on the Ring site, so it may be fixed to always record 'x' seconds before the trigger.

Rather than the object suddenly triggering the recording at the start of the video we see, it triggered it seconds afterwards when it (or light from it) entered one of the trigger zones. If that's the case the start of the video is just a point in time, making it look like the object suddenly appeared.

With devices like this you'd certainly want the motion detection to not be too sensitive, and limit the area where it's effective, to avoid getting alerts for false positives.

Ray Von
 

Ray Von Geezer

Senior Member.
According to various reviews tbe Ring Doorbell Pro does use pre-buffering to record "a couple of seconds" before a trigger.

E.g..

[Ring has addressed all of these gripes and added some handy features including 1080p video, custom motion zones, pre-buffering to capture what was going on before the motion sensor was triggered
Content from External Source
https://uk.pcmag.com/ring-video-doorbell-pro/93006/review/ring-video-doorbell-pro (http://archive.is/AlHOy)

This at least confirms the object didn't suddenly appear, otherwise we'd see a couple of seconds of nothing there beforehand (assuming the video is untouched). Because of that I'd say it's safe to assume the object didn't suddenly illuminate, it just wasn't detected when it entered the area. The actual point of detection is a couple of seconds into the video.

ETA - listening to the audio on full volume I think I hear music (Sounds like snatches of Children by Robert Miles :) ).

So I'm going with stray Chinese lantern from a nearby party :) Party hosts were a middle-class couple in their mid to late 40s.

Ray Von
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
it appears that you can adjust the areas for motion triggering quite comfortably.
That makes sense, but I think also give weight to the "stray Chinese lantern" theory. He would have masked off the trees, so it could have just floated down, triggered the sensor, and continued on and over the house.

I tracked down the house, but don't want to post someone's address publicly. The camera is facing roughly Southeast, the direction of motion is from the trees, moving NW, beyond the trees there's one more house with a lot of outdoor area 200 feet, then some open area on the edge of a wildlife sanctuary, a railway, a commercial/industrial area about 1200 feet away, then more suburbia, parks.

7/21 was a Saturday, which suggests a wedding with a Chinese lantern release. However it could equally have been some kids messing around.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
7/21 was a Saturday, which suggests a wedding with a Chinese lantern release.
I agree it looks like a Chinese lantern. I just can't imagine anyone using a flame in them these days. It's dangerous.
Not sure release of lit lanterns is legal in NY state.

Therefore, unless anchored or tethered, OFPC is of the opinion that sky lanterns cannot be constantly attended and thus present a violation of the Fire Code of New York State.

http://www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/alerts-bulletins/safety/text/2012/20120048.cfm
Content from External Source
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I agree it looks like a Chinese lantern. I just can't imagine anyone using a flame in them these days. It's dangerous.
Not sure release of lit lanterns is legal in NY state.

You have to use a flame, that's the only way they work — rising from the heated air.

This is in West NY state, near Buffalo. A pretty damp area. But still, it's a live flame randomly floating around.
Metabunk 2018-07-28 08-34-14.jpg
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO9pFD8oPj8



This video of a mysterious glowing orb was caught by Chris Miller on his infrared security camera in West New York State on July 21st 2018.


One theory is that it's a sky lantern (or Chinese lantern) that randomly blew across his yard. It didn't triggering the motion sensor until it got quite close, so it kind of looks like it started there.


But why is it so bright? A sky lantern uses a flame for light, but does it really glow like that? What does a sky lantern look like on an infrared security camera?


Sky lanterns are illegal in California, so I made a simple model using a gas lighter and a white plastic bin. Now this flame is a lot smaller than the flame in a sky lantern, but let's take a look.


In normal video it's not that impressive, although it does glow in the dark. But if we switch to infrared you can see it glows very brightly. Not only that but it illuminates the surroundings and casts shadows, just like in the orb video.


So given that an actual sky lantern would be a lot brighter than this, I think it's a very good possibility.
Content from External Source
 

Tedsson

Member
The air temperature and humidity can affect the flights of hot air balloons (and by implication lanterns) quite significantly.

I took this picture last week:
0AF30E3A-EED7-4A42-A2AE-839532BA0E6A.jpeg

A hot air balloon performing a slow unplanned and unwanted descent into terrain in the field beyond my garden.

The balloonist was frantically burning the flame thrower thing but it just kept descending before bumping into the row of trees to the left.

The air was very warm (high 20s - which is warm for Old Hampshire) and quite humid so I guess the “pilot” couldnt build up enough buoyancy prior to finding out that something made mostly out of thin plastic and hot air didn’t fare well when impacting several hundred tons of wood.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Some feedback from the camera owner:


Chris Miller6 hours ago
Thanks Mick. I've come to the conclusion watching this a gazillion times, watching your video demonstration and all the comments from this post and others, that it was in fact a Chinese/sky lantern. The kicker came last night when talking to a friend who informed me that the week before there was a wedding in town in which a number of lanterns were released - and that this may not be an uncommon occurrence around here. Granted they're illegal in NYS (which is why I'm having a hard time getting one to replicate), but we know how that goes. So the mystery will have to be just how it landed there through a surrounding of trees, how it magically 're-ignited' (if that's what happened) and how that all correlates to the infrared camera and its settings. I very much appreciate everyone's feedback.
Content from External Source
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Update from Chris Miller, the manufacturers of the camera agree with Chinese Lantern:


Chris Miller4 hours ago
For what it's worth, I just received the following reply from the tech folks at Ring:

"Hello Chris, Thank you for contacting Ring Community Support! Yes, my very first thought was about a Chinese Light. Our development team has confirmed this is it. The motion has been triggered by both Pixel Based and Passive Infrared motion detection systems. So the device has recognized heated signature as well as the difference in pixels."
Content from External Source
 
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