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Wheeler Springs (near Ojai), CA

Sighted on Thursday 26. September 2002
Reported on
Shape: Other | Duration: 15 seconds
Source:

Four or five rectangles connected with thin filament, one degree in length, moving slowlyI am an amateur astronomer, and had set up an AVA Stellacam Ex, sense up to 126, to observe the Trifid Nebula on a 20-inch Vitek monitor with a field of view of 3 by 4 degrees. The object, consisting of four or five rectangles connected with what might be described as a rigid filament (the filament extended out past the line of rectangles on both ends, as well) drifted across the field of view rather slowly, moving roughly toward the zenith. It was approximatly one degree in apparent length and did not appear to be outside the atmosphere. Detail of some kind was clearly visible on all the rectangles, but I have no opinion as to what it was. The object moved at about the rate an aircraft cossing the field of view would have moved, rather than a satellite, so I ruled out space debris. There was no weather ballon at either end of the series of rectangles visible, and, although my first impression on spotting it was that it was some sort of space station, the size of the object and its slow speed would, of course, rule that out as a possibility. The sunset was recent enough to have provided illumination to the object, so I cannot conclude it had any illunation of its own. I would be interested to find out if there is a well-known object that fits the description of what I observed.((FOLLOW-UP COMMUNICATION FROM WITNESS))Thanks very much for your prompt response. I, like you, am totally puzzled by the object, and despite my request for anonymity, please feel free to give my email address or phone number to anyone with professional credentials who might like to talk about it. One technical point about the equipment that might not be immediately obvious (the Stellacam EX is relatively new) is that the setting of the camera at the time (sense up to 128, which means that 128 1/60 second exposures are cumulated on board the camera and output to the monitor every two seconds as one image) means that the object had to be quite dim. At 128 a planet or aircraft would bleed badly into adjacent pixels, but this object did not bleed at all. (128, for example, is so sensitive that stars within a globular cluster bleed into each other and the cluster appears to be one star.) Since the object did not appear burned out in any way, it might actually have been too dim for, say, an 8" SCT to observe at all and I don't see any way that binoculars could have picked it up. But I still remain astonished at its apparent large size and slow speed. I suppose the most obvious explanation is that it was some sort of attachment to a weather device or other man-made device of which the general public is not aware, and had I seen a balloon attached to it, I'd have little doubt about that supposition. But I didn't and, I cannot really account for its apparent direction of movement.((END COMMENT))

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