Strange light has city puzzling

2010-09-21 00:00

IT seems the night skies above Pietermaritzburg are teeming with strange lights as residents responded to the story in yesterday’s Witness.

A Howick resident called to say that for the past three nights she has been watching a very bright object over Midmar that moves towards Pietermaritzburg. She described the object as having a “reddish tinge” and being “5 000 times brighter than a star”.

A Newholmes resident said that a month ago, while sitting outside at 8.30 pm, he saw an object that sparkled in the sky and then flashed very brightly before disappearing.

A week later he saw the object come up from the south, and as it passed what he thought was a satellite, it flashed again.

“I called my wife, but she didn’t see it. I have been looking at the sky again, but have not seen it again. It was so bright, like a bright torch flashing.”

Another city resident said in an e-mail that three to four weeks ago, while answering the call of nature just after dark, he looked northwards “and in the west at about 10 o’clock was a very bright ‘star’”, moving slowly.

“Next evening, same procedure, same movement. The third evening I rang an amateur stargazer and asked her to locate and identify the ‘star’. She located it, was unable to identify it, but confirmed that the ‘star’ was moving across the sky.”

The man believes the “star” is a satellite.

Bono Mkhize of Eastwood has seen “the same light, but only twice on Thursday last week and on Tuesday the week before. It shone a bright orange colour, then it dimmed then went bright again.”

He said it did not move.

A Scottsville couple, Roy and Phyll Geyser, saw a “bright sparkling light” on Saturday, September 11. “It definitely appeared to be a lot brighter and larger than the stars we are used to seeing,” said Phyll.

Burt Seabrook of Scottburgh reported seeing a “huge white light” over the sea in the north-east between 8 pm and 9 pm.

Local ufologist Kitty Smith said the way the Montrose man described the object is reminiscent of a UFO sighting that Elizabeth Klarer had arranged for her in the Berg many years ago.

The man who originally called The Witness yesterday said he is now convinced the bright star-like object is a satellite.

He said he has since tracked it moving from east to west towards Pietermaritzburg.

“The question now is, what satellite is it?”

A READER sent in a link to the website SkyandTelescope.com, which says that Jupiter is far brighter than any true star in the night sky at the moment.

“Jupiter is always bright, but if you think it looks a little brighter than usual this month, you’re right. Jupiter is making its closest pass by Earth for the year. And this year’s pass is a little closer than any other between 1963 and 2022.”

Jupiter was nearest to Earth last night — a mere 368 million miles away.

But it remains nearly this close and bright throughout the second half of September.

Another reader, Andrew Hall, e-mailed to say the strange “light” in the evening sky is the planet Jupiter. “It is currently very bright and can be seen rising in the evening, in the east at about 7 pm. It will be visible all night because at the moment it is in opposition to the Sun. If you look carefully with a pair of binoculars you will see four of its moons. Venus is also visible, but it is in the western sky at sunset. Below it and difficult to see are Mars and Saturn.”

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