10-14-89 MIAMI, Okla. The mysterious lights that northeastern Oklahoma residents have seen in the night sky for the last four days are real, but they aren't anything to get excited about, a Coffeyville, Kan., astronomy instructor said Saturday.
"It's real, but it's caused by a very natural phenomenon," said Don Linda, an astronomy instructor at Coffeyville Community College. "We do have some rather large bright objects up in the night sky." Miami officials asked Linda to use his computer to see if the lights that have caused a stir in northeastern Oklahoma could be explained astronomically.
Ken Murphy, a civil defense radio operator, said Friday that numerous reports refer to three different objects in the sky. The brightest's in the west-northwest sky, another was in the southwestern sky and the dimmest was in the northeast. Some callers said the lights were flashing blue, red and white and moving slowly across the sky.
Linda found that two planets, two stars and a turbulent, dusty atmosphere could explain all the sightings. The northeast sighting's Jupiter the largest planet in the solar system, Linda said. He said Jupiter's coming up at about 10 p.m. It's about 40 times brighter than the average star and could appear to flicker through a thick atmosphere. "Being that low on the horizon, it's in a very thick area of the atmosphere," he said. "People are seeing this, particularly if they are using binoculars or a very cheap telescope." In the southwest, Venus's very bright right after sundown, and Antares appears about the time Venus sets, Linda said. "There's something in the sky continuously for them to see," he said. And, he says, in the west-northwest, Arkturus, a Class K orange star, is the only thing that could be drawing that much attention. "It's been there for a long time, and people just haven't noticed it. A lot of people now are just wanting to see things," Linda said.
The lights appear to move for the same reason the sun appears to move the earth's rotation and they appear to flash because of dust and pollen moving in the warm air on the horizon, Linda said. "The air's very turbulent. It's moving almost constantly. As these stars are low to the horizon, you are going to get a substantial amount of distortion," he said. "Basically, there's nothing up there now that hasn't been up there for months," he said. "The weather's nice and people are getting out on their last fling before the winter sets in." Linda said the sightings are predominant in northeastern Oklahoma and along the Oklahoma borders with Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas because it's hill country. "They have a history of seeing spook lights and this sort of thing in that area," Linda said. "They have been proven to be nothing more than light refractions. The people are really seeing these things."
Isothermal layers or layers of different temperatures form in the atmosphere above the hills, Linda said. Because light bends differently in different temperatures, the layers act like a mirror refracting starlight up and down. The reports of lights conjured images of unidentified flying objects. Coupled with the pre-Halloween season, the superstition linked to Friday the 13th and reports this week from the Soviet Union of close encounters with alien spacecraft, the reports have received national attention. "These sightings are not at all typical of UFO sightings," Linda said. "Typical UFO sightings are only by a handful of people for a very short period of time. These sightings are by many people over about a week's period."
**** THE U.F.O. BBS - http://www.ufobbs.com/ ****