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No. 34: Jul-Aug 1984

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Strange Object In The Sky

January 20, 1983, 0515 GMT. The m.v. Baron Pentland was drifting off Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. A report was heard on the Christmas Island Radio that an object had been spotted high in the sky to the west of the island. The officers of the Baron Pentland picked up the object with binoculars and sextant.

"First thoughts were that this was the satellite Cosmos 1402, but this was dismissed as it was a day too early and it was not moving fast enough. In fact it appeared stationary to the naked eye. Another school of thought was that this was a weather balloon. As can be seen from the simple sketch, it was unlike any weather balloon previously seen by the observers. It was of a squat cylinder shape, wider than it was tall. The circle at the bottom appeared to be dimly lit with a pale blue colour. The 'torso' was almost invisible, even with binoculars, giving the impression that there were two distinct and separate lights. The top 'light' appeared to be a dome atop the main body and it was extremely bright. By wedging the binoculars in the bridge doorway, it was possible to gain a very steady view as the vessel's main propulsion system was shut down and the seas were light. Thus a clearer picture was obtained and in this way the object was identified as being cylindrical. The bottom circle also appeared to be 'webbed' with dark radial lines."

At 0643 GMT, the object had disappeared in the west.

(Strachan, C.; "Unidentified Flying Object," Marine Observer, 54:27, 1984.)

Strange object seen in the sky

From Science Frontiers #34, JUL-AUG 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987