From: Ted Viens <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wed, 01 Oct 1997 12:18:46 -0700 Fwd Date: Wed, 01 Oct 1997 14:05:34 -0400 Subject: The sky over Roswell 5th July 1997 Roswell, New Mexico. The Roswell Alien Crash Street Circus and Road Show was winding down for another day. Realizing that this Pauper's Pilgrimage to EBE Nirvana would have to find shelter for the night, I drove my brother and myself to my selected rest stop for a restful overnight sleep in my '81 Toyota Corolla. This was a quiet spot some 8,000 feet up the northern side of El Capitan near the base of the telco microwave towers. The primitive dirt road is maintained some two thirds of the way up. The final third is nothing more than a rut hacked into the mountainside where reasonable men are expected to pass only in utility trucks. But then the skills of driving my street cars up the abandoned logging trails deep in the Green Mountains late in my adolescence cheerfully broke from their slumber. Carefully navigating the washed out gullies and the prominent rock ridges, crawling slowly up the mountainside, I eventually pulled the compact car to a stop at the short spur that goes to the towers. My expectations were small and mundane. I wanted to gaze at the clear night sky and the Milky Way so hard to see from the heart of Houston. I made sure to arrive at the crest by sunset so that I would be there through the prime visible satellite viewing time of from sunset to nightfall some hour or so later. I brought my shortwave portable so that I could experience the rare pleasure of shortwave listening in a quiet signal environment. The possiblility of seeing any Unexplainable Aerial Phenomenon struggled to rise to a casual thought. The early night was cloudless and the view of the starry skies was as rewarding as could be expected. As the sun dropped below the horizon, casual glances through the unobstructed northern sky failed to catch the slow glittering sweep of any passing satellite. Local commuter flights into the Roswell airfield passed nearly at eye level. The passengers could almost be seen in the dimly lit cabins. Regional flights passed at twice the altitude. And twice again as high, a cross country flight could be seen. The telltale blinking flight lights always betraying the source. My interest in shortwave listening suffered from the effects of only getting a few hours sleep in the past thirty six. Not to mention the irony of thinking that a microwave relay station would be a quiet radio environment. So, why, do you ask, have I dragged you through all this dialogue? Prime satellite viewing time had passed uneventfully. The sky had become deep black from east to west. Sitting on the concrete foundation of the microwave tower, I again glanced straight up when, at the zenith, I finally saw a light moving in the sky. It resembled closely the brightest stars in size and brilliance. It passed from directly overhead to the eastern horizon undiminished and unswerving in about a minutes time. Ho-hum you say. Hum, I thought. So many plausible common explanations, so little to cause notice of the event. But then I thought some more. It remained bright to the horizon. If it was lit by the sun, it would have passed into the earth's penumbra at thirty to forty degrees above the horizon and blinked out suddenly. This object must have been self illuminated. It continued to appear like a bright star. It was either very small, very far away or both. In barely a minute, it went from overhead to the horizon. This kept nibbling at my curiosity. Could it be a satellite? The higher a satellite, the slower its apparent motion. What would be the shortest time that a satellite could move from the zenith to the horizon? This would have to be a satellite in a low orbit risking decay and destruction. Somewhat more secure would be a satellite in an oblong orbit passing at its perigee. I fired up Micro Orbiter 3.0 and searched through the master satellite list for the satellite that would be expected to pass overhead the fastest. Today, 30 September 1997, it would be the satellite named 1997054C. Moving the observer to the perigee, computing the overhead passes, I discovered that the shortest time for a pass above 80 degrees elevation was still six minutes forty seconds. It would take over three minutes to go from overhead to the horizon. The light in the night sky passing over the Roswell festivities could not possibly be a satellite. What then? Ahhhh, what about the SR71? I grabbed the calculator, pen and paper. The SR71 passes 16 miles above us at 2,250 miles per hour. Sketching the path of the SR71 over the earth, cranking out some trig on the calc and out pops a path of over 700 miles from horizon to horizon. Mashing some more numbers and we learn that it would take nearly twenty minutes to do this or some ten minutes for an SR71 to do what my light in the sky did in about one. Scratch off the SR71. My flying light is becoming curiouser and curiouser. We have learned that it must be self illuminated. It glows brightly in the earth's shadow. It cannot be a satellite. It crosses the heaven at least twice as quickly as any satellite can. It cannot be any known spy plane. It moves ten times as fast as the SR71. Could it be some unkown military aerial technology? Houston can be a wonderful place to be during a nightime rentry of the Shuttle. That is, if the sky is clear and if the rentry path passes overhead. Houston is about three quarters of the way along the rentry. Grasping at foggy memories, here the Shuttle is slowing from 8,000 to 6,000 mph and dropping from thirty to fifteen miles high. Even at these speeds, it takes four minutes to travel from horizon to horizon or still twice as long from overhead to the skyline as the light over Roswell. Most memorable is the ionization trail that follows the Shuttle. It is a glittering tube half as wide as your thumbnail at armslength. It lingers in the upper atmosphere. As the Shuttle drops below the skyline of downtown Houston, the ionization trail is only beginning to fade from the western horizon. An ionization trail is a purely mechanical phenomenon. Any aircraft faster than mach 5 or so passes through the air so quickly it literally beats electrons off of the molecules. As they recombine, a glow is given off. The light over Roswell left no trail at all. If suborbital, it would have been travelling above mach 10. It is safe for us to deduce that it was travelling above the upper atmosphere or truly some exotic technology. Isn't science wonderful. My observation of a distant light moving in a straight line high in the night sky over the Roswell Alien Crash Street Circus and Road Show seemed at casual glance so easily dismissable. Ah, but bring in the simple tools of hard science and things become perplexing. The object was self illuminated. It passed from zenith to horizon in less than a minute. If in space, it was violating the rules of orbital mechanics much to the distress of Kepler and Newton. If in the atmosphere, it was exceeding the limits of any known or imagined earth aircraft or technology. Its movement only showed it to be a powered flight beyond the limits of known science. What could it be? Beats the pants off me... A light passes in the sky over Roswell, New Mexico. Simple science eliminates the possibility of any known technology. Could it have been a commemorative flight? I cannot demonstrate what it might have been. I can only rule out what it cannot be. Perhaps other easily dismissed distant lights moving in the night sky should be investigated more carefully under the scrutiny of hard science. A footnote. Satellite 1997054C appears to be an interstage section of the launch of a group of Iridium global cellular phone satellites. It will soon decay and come burning to ground. A quick study of the NORAD two line element set of satellites reveals that for every Iridium launch, two or three sections will come flaming to earth in the following weeks. Iridium and other low earth orbit communication satellite launches will take place almost monthly for the next few years. UFO reporting services should prepare for an unprecedent rise in crash and burn reports for a while. copyright 1997 any publication proposals warmly received... (will be ot of contact for the next few days.) Bye... Ted..
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