MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: Moving light: what was that?

Date: Mon Jul 27 11:42:01 1998
Posted By: Tom Stickel, Grad student, Optometry, Indiana University School of Optometry
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 901030672.As


I'm afraid that I'm not going to be able to give you a very good answer
without more information.  The explanations for this could vary depending
on where in the sky your mother saw this light, how far away it was when
it started, how far away it was when it disappeared, the shape of the 
light, the size of the light, etc.

But, I'm not going to let a lack of information stop me from making some
wild guesses.  You asked for a rational hypothesis, so here are a few.

1).  Your mother actually saw something, but it was only a trick of light. 
It could have been several things. It's possible that it was a reflection 
from something in the sky, like a helicopter, or the reflection from 
someone nearby opening a window, or a reflection from any number of things.

2).  Your mother actually saw something, and it really existed.  So, I 
suppose it could have been a UFO, but without more evidence, I kind of 
doubt that.  I did find some information on the internet about strange, 
floating balls of light that can move rapidly around the sky. I can't 
verify how true the phenomena of "Earth Light" is, but if you want to look 
at the web page (and even see 'real pictures' of "Earth Light," check out 
this link:
 Triangle Study Web Site 

3).  Your mother thought she saw something that wasn't really there.  There 
are any number of ways this could happen.  The brain, after all, is a 
pretty complex thing.  The human eye is a pretty complicated bit of 
biology, too.  One thing that comes to mind is the possibility that your 
mother has migraine headaches.  Certain people who suffer from migraines 
experience an 'aura' about 20 minutes before the headache in which they can 
actually see bright lights, among other things.  If your mother didn't get 
a headache right after seeing this light, then it is possible that she is a 
person who gets the migraine aura but never actually gets the headaches.  
That condition, although not common, can occur.  To learn more about 
migraines and auras, look at:
 Journal of the 
American Medical Association Migraine Information Center 

Well, I doubt we'll ever explain exactly what your mother saw. Hopefully 
that was the first and the last of that light she'll ever see...


Moderators Note:

I just thought I'd add that while I've never seen flashes of light, I do
experience strange patterns of visual interference before I get a migraine 


Jim O'Donnell

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