Charles Miller took this picture of unidentified lights in the North Carolina sky and sent it to CNN.
When it comes right down to it, almost all of us have seen UFOs. After all, UFO stands for "Unidentified Flying Object," and who hasn't seen a flying object in the sky they haven't been able to identify? That said, it's the other connotation of the term UFO that has us doing some investigating this week, the "other worldly" connotation.
A couple of weeks ago, the 911 emergency call centers in the Charlotte, North Carolina, metropolitan area lit up. People reported strange lights in the sky. Some said it looked like a blue-green oval-shaped object. Some said it was blue and white. Others said it had a tail and streaked across the sky. All said it was something very unusual. One man actually took a picture of it and gave a copy to CNN.
Two nights later, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, fireballs were seen in the sky. And it wasn't only a picture available this time, it was video
, which was shot by a television station's camera. One surfer on Oahu told a television reporter that while he was watching the fireballs he thought he might never surf again.
Sightings of unusual objects in the heavens are nothing new. UFO Web sites are full of such reports. But what's noteworthy about the recent sightings is the fact that we actually see the images, rather than just hear about them. And that just adds fuel to the fire for UFO enthusiasts.
Make no mistake about it; there are a great many people who believe the U.S. government has covered up extraterrestrial visits and that these recent events are more evidence of travelers from other worlds. But other witnesses who saw the lights in North Carolina and Hawaii say they're not sure what they were seeing.
We spent part of the evening this past week at the Appalachian State University observatory in the mountains of North Carolina. Professor Daniel Caton told us that most UFO sightings are explainable. The one in North Carolina, he has concluded, was a bolide, which is a fireball-like meteor that ranges in size from a pebble to several kilometers in diameter. Professor Caton told us something about extraterrestrial aircraft we found especially humorous.
"Until it sets down on the White House lawn and CNN is there," Caton said, "I won't believe it."
That hasn't happened yet. But it won't stop believers from believing. Though even the man who took the picture of the object in the North Carolina sky has his doubts. Charles Miller is no believer in alien visitors, but he told us what he saw in the sky looks like no meteor he has ever seen before. He just knows he doesn't want to see something like it over his house again.