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HomeVolume 28A puzzle in the night sky

A puzzle in the night sky

By ERWIN CHLANDA

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) will not comment on multiple observations by several people of a brightly lit object in the controlled airspace of Alice Springs, over a period of several months.

Anyone flying in that space is subject to clearance from air traffic control and the absence of that would increase the risk of collisions and aviation fatalities. 

The airport does not have a radar.

The unexplained object, sometimes accompanied by a second very bright light on the ground, was drawn to the attention of CASA, “a government body that ensures the safety of aviation in Australia,” by the Alice Springs News.

We had been contacted by Hollis Taylor (pictured), an internationally know musician living in Alice Springs. She is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, a faculty member of the Sydney Conservatorium, and a member of the Sydney Environment Institute.

Dr Taylor spends most nights in the town’s bush vicinity, recording the songs of butcherbirds. The songs are being incorporated in musical compositions by her and her husband, Jon Rose.

Dr Taylor’s observations are shared by an Aboriginal woman unconnected with her, who has had two encounters with the mysterious object, and with another author, Matt (he asked for his surname not to be published) who was researching in the field with Dr Taylor two nights ago. He is an humanities academic.

Up to this point Dr Taylor had always been on her own when she made the observations, dating back more than a year.

“There is something going on out there,” she says. 

“Matt could not believe it. He was shocked.”

The sightings are always to the east of Alice Springs, at various heights in the night sky and usually still visible when all the stars are already gone from view at dawn.

Dr Taylor says she and Matt saw the object on the Ross Highway two days ago, near the Williams Well outstation, 48 km east of the town.

The outstation is about a kilometre south of the highway, near where there was another very bright object on the ground.

“We didn’t hike in. We thought we needed more people.

“It’s not a drone, it’s not a balloon, it’s like completely using energy to do something – and that makes me very nervous.”

It could not have been a car.

“There has not been any traffic in the days and nights I’ve gone out there or even come back in.”

Dr Taylor makes her recordings at around 2am.

A woman who lives in Alice Springs but has connections to people out east, and has asked not to be named, told the News during one encounter with the object early this year “the light was coming close and then long distance and then close again” – as close as 30 metres. 

It was like a car “with a lot of high beams on”.

Was it two lights or one? 

“Biggest mobs and then it just disappeared. When it was long distance from you it looks like one big one.”

Would it have been as a big as a house?

“From behind us it was bigger than a car.”

How high up was it?

“Same level as us.”

The object was following them. 

“And it just disappeared as we got close to Jessie Gap. No more light. Nothing in sight. Just went dark.”

The second encounter was “about a month ago”.

She saw the object for about five minutes.

Her partner was with her in the car, and his brother, another brother and a niece.

“We all saw it at the same time, thinking what it was.”

The bright light alternated with sudden and complete darkness.

“You don’t see that light at all. It just disappears. And you wait. Does it come back on? Nothing.”

How do you know that it wasn’t a car?

“I thought it was a car but the other people in the car thought it wasn’t a car, it was something. They live there all their lives and when they were kids they never saw that before. And now they are parents and grandparents.”

Did it make a noise?

“We had the music on loud.”

She says another family member saw the light from a lookout on Undoolya Road, leading east, “in the same direction we’ve seen the light, they’ve seen a pretty light out there, too”.

Matt told the News he and Dr Taylor were driving east on the Ross Highway, 48 km from town: “There is was. It seemed to be moving lower and closer and then moving higher and east.

“Initially it seemed we were passing it but it moved higher and further away.

“It definitely moved, but not in a consistent way. It seemed to be at the mercy of the wind to some extent.

“There was also a bright light on the ground at the base of a hill, not far from the road.”

What did you think?

“I didn’t know what to think. Your brain is trying to rationally think through what is was but at the same time you have your hair standing up at the back of your neck.

“I know there are scientific balloons that go from the airport but they are registered and they are enormous and they happen earlier in the year with predictable weather.”

What size was the object?

“It’s hard to tell because of the distance. It must be smaller than a hot air balloon but bigger than a regular drone.

“Someone should go out and investigate the light on the ground, between 3 or 3.30.”

Are you going to have go?

Laughs. “I reckon you would have to take a few people. The light on the ground is bizarre. What it might be and why it’s so bright? It is not immediately apparent.

“I’m a researcher and an academic but I also write fiction including science fiction, I don’t know whether that lends credibility or takes it away, but I’m certainly not someone who’s running around claiming to see this sort of thing, until today, when I did.”

CASA’s no-comment answer included the suggestion to “ring Defence”. We are going to invite Airservices Australia to comment, as suggested by CASA.

IMAGES: Photo at top by Dr Taylor taken on September 28 at 4.30am on the Ross Highway. Above: Sections of the controlled airspace surrounding the Alice Springs airport and (in red) the areas from which the object has been observed.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is not new: In the 1970++ a lot of those lights on road and in sky were reported, but people were dismissed like idiots or UFO crazy.
    It does not matter if they were simple people, academics, Aborigines or Europeans. We were all treated like lunatics and decide to shut our mouths.

  2. This is not new: Since way before the 1970s lights on the road and in the sky have been imagined. Despite the advancement of radar, photographing, satellites and a range of other technologies we’re still left with no evidence … just stories. And great stories, sure, but still just stories.

  3. “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.”
    ― Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World.

  4. I recall years ago during a school camping trip in Trephina Gorge seeing a bright ball of light at the top of the hill. People at the time thought I was dreaming or imagining it. I had an initial thought that someone was at the top of the ridge. However the light blinked out, then reappeared briefly, before then shooting up into the sky with no trail of light behind it.
    I thought no, this was definitely some kind of UFO.
    I also saw it needing to go for a walk after having drunk too much water earlier in the night. If I didn’t do what I had I would have never seen the light.
    This year the US government has declassified documents and videos of what they now call UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena), or (Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena).
    The government has had no choice because US pilots are seeing these objects more and more frequently to the point it is getting dangerous.
    They say that a few are known objects but most of the objects are definitely not of this world. Such objects can move in ways that no other known aircraft can move and they can be transmedium, meaning they can drop into the ocean and travel underwater before then shooting back up into the sky at incredible speeds.
    Visit the new US government website at https://www.aaro.mil/
    Anyway, I think with what is happening in the USA right now will simply mean that over time the stigma of seeing and reporting of strange objects will eventually go away.
    After all, a national poll in 2021 said that at least 65% of North Americans believe UFOs are real.

  5. People who are interested in the US government’s response to the UAP/UFO situation can take a look at two particular news sites, The Hill and News Nation.
    The Hill is a top US political website, read by the White House and more law makers than any other site — vital for policy, politics and election campaigns.
    News Nation is your trusted source for breaking news, unbiased US news and video delivered from the heartland of America 24/7.
    Both websites are currently covering a US congressional hearing and investigation over alleged cover ups that have dated back since the beginning of the first ever reports of UFO sightings.
    There are various other news websites that are also covering the matter but they have been getting much of their news from both News Nation and The Hill who have reporters within the White House and The Pentagon.
    It’s basically very interesting indeed and slowly but surely more and more information has been revealed about the matter. You have senators and whistleblowers weighing in on the matter and the matter had first came to be covered by these news sites since July 2023.
    The title of the US congressional hearing is: “Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena: implications of considered of national security, public safety and government transparency.”
    Below is the initial press release which includes a link to the live hearing. Source is a US government agency. For more information anyone can Google about the hearing.
    The hearing is fairly interesting as at one stage (that I had randomly listened into the live coverage) I heard Pine Gap getting a mention. It had been mentioned on the terms of the US defence budget and not for anything else.

  6. They also appear to the north and west of Alice Springs late at night.
    We’ve seen them hovering menacingly over north Stuart Highway and the Tanami Track.
    They’re extremely bright, like a star, but can move (sometimes at great speed) across the sky, up and down and fade in and out. It’s likely that they’re highly advanced drones.

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