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Tennessee (United States)

Sighted on Monday 23. July 2018
Reported on
Shape: Circle | Duration: 00:00:10
Source:

I was out for an evening walk. even though it is mid-summer, a cool front had come through. the temperature was mild, the humidity was low, and so the sky was very clear. i did not see a cloud anywhere. i have loved to look at the night sky for all of my 60 years, but i know very little about astronomy. i do know that, recently, there was an alignment of venus with the line of a half-moon. (i saw that on some news site.) i will use this as my starting reference. few people in my neighborhood had their porch lights on tonight, and so my view of the sky was better than usual. (we do not have any street lights, because we are in a semi-rural area.) i had stood and looked at the sky from my driveway for a minute or two before beginning my walk. at that time, i saw nothing unusual -- except that the planet mars was a very bright red. (it was brighter than i ever remember seeing it.) our street runs north-south, and my house faces east. i began my walk by turning left (north) out of my driveway. i observed the big dipper and the north star. as i left my driveway, i heard the sound of an airplane. i looked up and saw two airplanes. one was about ten miles to my east-northeast, heading due north, at about 12,000 feet altitude, and sounded like a c-130. (i was career air force, and i can identify many aircraft even at night.) the other aircraft seemed to be an average jet airliner at perhaps 30 miles away and a standard cruising altitude above 30,000 feet. these observations would have been at about 2150 central time. i walked north on our street until i reached the up-slope, and then turned around. about once per minute, on both the northbound and southbound portions of my walk, i stopped and enjoyed the view of the night sky. i saw two meteors, at different times, but nothing else noteworthy. i walked past the intersection, and on to the next block of our street. i stopped to look up again. this time, i saw something that i have never seen before. to describe the setting, the moon was directly ahead (south) of me, at about 60 degrees above the horizon. venus was down and to the left, and seemed to be still aligned with where the line of a half-moon would have been. (but the moon was more than half-full tonight.) mars was farther down and to my left, and it was still a very bright red. all three seemed to be in a straight line. but then, above the moon, i suddenly saw three bright lights, which had not been there before. the lights were a bluish-white, like starlight, but much brighter. the lights formed an almost-equilateral triangle. the were very bright and distinctive -- easily twice the diameter of mars. i thought to myself that i had not seen anything like this in my whole life. then, the lights got even brighter for a split-second (all at the same time), and then faded from view (the one on the right first, and then the other two at the same time.) i stood there trying to understand what i had just seen. they were not stars or planets, because those do not change in appearance. they definitely were not any type of aircraft that i know. they appeared to be out in space, like stars, and not in the normal altitude range for aircraft. the lights did not move. i stood looking up for several minutes, trying to determine whether a cloud had passed by and obscured my view of the lights (versus them just fading out of view). i did not see any clouds, not even a thin overcast. from my perspective, the lights faded. no aircraft blocked my view. as i walked back to my house, i turned around and looked at that place in the sky several times. i also stood out in my driveway for a few more minutes. no other lights appeared, nor did those lights re-appear. i saw no other notable lights, objects, or events.

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