"Mystery 'Fireballs'
A Trail-Object Connection?"

By Brenda Livingston
With more people now capable of gathering more data about the mysterious objects and strange contrails and material filling our skies, intriguing new information is now surfacing...
In our atmosphere, dark/colorful objects surrounding what appears to be white spheroidal shaped material move out of some types of persistent contrails (PCs) or "chemtrails". These mysterious objects appear to glow and produce intense flashes of light (heat) at times both day and night.
Polymer or "angel hair" falls also occur with some frequency --consisting of long strands of silk-like material moving through the atmosphere and descending to earth. (see These falls are often accompanied by the PC-related objects over the same areas. These atmospheric phenomena have found their place in the halls of the "unexplained" for decadesyet new data is shedding some light on these enigmas.
Although lab analyses of some polymer falls ( have been fascinating and have provided clues to these atmospheric mysteries -- one of the most fascinating and potentially revealing sky phenomena are the large and intensely bright "fireball-like" spherical objects moving horizontally across our skies. On rare occasions, these bright objects result in air or ground explosions and unusual fires and residueproviding an opportunity to test samples.
Through analysis of stunning and revealing new videos, photographs and witness reports--there now may be evidence that suggests a possible link between these most unusual fireballs (non-meteoric events) and the PC-related objects. Although no conclusions can be reached at this time, there certainly appear to be some intriguing connections that require further exploration.
Potential connections between unusually bright, colorful horizontal path "fireballs" and PC-related "combo" objects seen and videotaped include the following:
The PC-related objects: (a) possess similar characteristics of shape and size to the unusual "fireballs" (i.e., larger variety of "combos" with multiple dark objects); (b) appear to create low altitude daytime horizontal trails which are a characteristic of daylight fireballs; ( c) have similar colors to reported "fireballs" as they appear at night (i.e., glowing "combos" at night with colors of green, orange, red, blue, purple, etc..; and (d) are likely composed of or contain chemicals and materials which could produce bright intense flashes of light similar to that witnessed with some unusual "fireballs".
Excellent photographs taken during daylight may also illustrate the transition of a large "combo" (whiter material surrounded by multiple dark objects) into a 'fiery ball. Persistent contrails and smaller dark/white "combos" have also been witnessed near rolling "fireballs"
Strange "Fireballs"
To examine this possibility more closely"we need to take a closer look at any available witness reports and documentation regarding unusual "fireball" events. (see for photographs of a variety of fireballs)
Fireball events have been witnessed during both the daylight and night time hours"but are more frequently seen at night and are described as a larger and brighter version of normal meteoric events. According to the American Meteorological Society, meteors are usually split second events as a small rock collides with the atmosphere and burns up quickly high in the atmosphere appearing as a small white light in the night sky followed by a long tail of sparks (known as a 'shooting star') lasting a split second to a second.
Occasionally, this small chunk of space debris does not disintegrate completely and when it reaches approximately 50,000 feet or a bit lower, what is left (a meteorite) then falls to the ground at ambient temperature. At times, a bolide may explode high in the atmosphere splitting into several pieces"all of which fall as ambient temperature meteorites producing no fires or ground explosions.
Often witnesses report hearing an explosion overhead (with a bolide hitting the atmosphere) and others may hear a hissing or whistle-like sound as the meteorite whizzes by before striking the ground. The angle of trajectory is at from 20 to 40 degrees not horizontal or following the curve of the earth.
What is significant about particular "fireball-like" sightings is that these do not follow the characteristics of normal meteors. The unusual "fireballs" in question are very bright and large; traverse the skies in a horizontal pathsome reportedly stopping, hovering, or reversing course. Many move at low altitude (2,000 to 50,000 feet) without a sound"some roaring like a gas torch-- and all displaying colors not seen in meteor falls (many green, red or blue-white).
Most intriguing is that these "Special Fireballs" (like Spheres, "Foo-Fighters "Angel Hair" or Polymer Falls, and Ice Falls) have been reported over a span of many years the most infamous reports gathered by the military in 1948.
These unusual 'fireball-like" objects certainly appear to have been occupying our skies for decades or longer with relatively little harm or damage on the ground or to any aircraft (yet reported) with ground events being few and far between.
Because current reports and studies conducted by the military or the scientific community are not readily available to the public at this time-- the following reports are of interest and may provide some valuable clues to present events.
Green Fireballs
A plethora of very unusual fireball reports were presented in a transcript taken from a conference on "Aerial Phenomena" sponsored by the 4th Army (along with the Air Force and FBI) at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (now LANL) in 1949. Reportedly in attendance were Dr. Lincoln LaPaz of the University of New Mexico and Edward Teller.
The discussion focused on the multiple sightings of "green fireballs" near nuclear and military facilities in the U.S. and in particular those spotted in the skies over Los Alamos. Dr. LaPaz had an opportunity to personally witness a bright green fireball on the evening of December 12 and presented his findings of this sighting and reports of similar events. He was convinced that these fireballs were not meteors and concerned that they might be artificially constructed. All were concerned that these could be a weapon system of some sort.
What distinguished these fireballs were their large intense light, unusual color, long horizontal path, no long tail of sparks, low altitude, lack of sound in most cases and explosion and fragmentation without a finding of meteorites on the ground. In the discussion between LaPaz and Teller, the fact that these fireballs did follow the curvature of the earth for such a long distance convinced both that these objects were propelled forward by a type of internal energy source.
Although LaPaz was most impressed with the specific color of green for these fireballs, sighting reports of a fireball that traveled from New Mexico into Texas (a 143 mile journey) mentioned that this fireball was green at one point.. then red, blue and even purple at other points along its path. And although total silence accompanied most of these fireballs"several witnesses reported hearing what sounded like a gasoline blowtorch rumbling overhead at the time.
"Bright Skies" in Australia
This particular roaring sound also accompanied large intensely bright fireballs sighted across Australia during the 1990' reported in the findings of a geologist Harry Mason in his article "Bright Skies" (1997). Mason provides a most revealing study and survey of more current horizontal path fireball-like objects rolling across the skies of Australia.
Mason was contracted to study seismic activity in the Eastern goldfields of Banjawarn in 1993 which led to multiple interviews of witnesses to extraordinary fireball events. An intense fireball was witnessed over this area at 11 pm over May 28, 1993 which was followed by a seismic activity reading of 3.9. (No seismic activity had ever been recorded in this area previously). Very unusual destruction was seen at the Alycia mine with 3 inch pipes severed underground.
The fireball reported in this incident was orange-red in color with a short conical tail traveling slow on a horizontal path at about 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the ground. This fireball followed a "250 km trajectory and ended in a high energy burst of blue-white light seen from 100 km all around the site."
Other reports of 'fireball-like' objects over Australia during the 1990's were accompanied by a loud roar with no sound during the air explosions that followed And no meteorites were ever found on the ground during searches after these events.
Mason continued to gather fireball reports and data up to 1998 and provides the following brief assessment of his findings for all Australian states.
These unusual fireballs had the following characteristics:
*low altitude horizontal path *small conical tails *no fragment drop off or meteorites found *velocity less than sound (no sonic booms) *sudden change in course reported *increase in speed or dead stop and hover or reverse path *some change to vertical path moving upwards toward space *intense vibration of ground and housing during a passover *explode over horizon in massive blue-white arcing light displays *sudden intense high altitude light flashes *power generator over-voltage outages and other electrical effects
These characteristics hardly meet the criteria for meteor or bolide event or falling space debris but it does match some of the activities and characteristics of the PC-related objects.
One important fireball report from the Tom Price area in Australia contains a most graphic description of a fireball moving at low altitude overhead. The witness reported seeing: "an intense spherical ball or orange-red fire swirling in a spiral pattern"the flame disappearing internally upwards into a central black hole or void within."
This suggests the possibility that either a plasma or gaseous substance is swirling around a steady central coreperhaps moving from the 'top' of the object and flowing all around it to move back into it from the bottom of the object.
Interestingly enough, many reports of spheroidal objects contain references to a 'misty' or cloudy flow emanating from the top of the whitish objects suggesting a possible propulsion or energy source.
The Arkansas Fire & Fireball Mystery
The night of March 9, 2000 heralded one of the most revealing series of events in unusual "fireball" history. Witnessed over much of the state of Arkansas--sightings of bright spherical lights, flashes of intense light that illuminated the ground, low horizontal fireballs traveling overhead and mysterious fires and ground explosions were reported to local agencies and ufo centers.
Although most of the reports centered around Little Rock and north to Mountain Home some fireballs were seen as far west as Ft. Smith that night. The first set of sightings reported this night occurred between 7 and 9 pm in the towns of Memphis, Eureka Springs, Timbo and Conway areas.
A courier for a pharmacy was driving from Little Rock to Blytheville and witnessed "a ball of lava" the size of a softball (relative at arm's length) in the distance between 7 and 7:30 pm CST. This fireball was moving from southeast to northwest "not looking anything like a meteor".
Another person reported a widespread bright light looking much like "a diffuse sheet of lightning" in a clear sky near Eureka Springs at about 8:25 pm followed by a large fireball moving horizontally from north to south. A man with a physics-astronomy background witnessed a bright green fireball with an orange tail traveling by about a half mile away at an approximate altitude of 1000 feet which disappeared over a ridge near Conway Arkansas.
Two sisters traveling together on a dirt road near Timbo both witnessed the sky suddenly turning bright white for several seconds followed by pitch dark. This event was followed by a black-orange fireball moving overhead. One sister described this strange ball of fire as "a large black and red ball with red lightning" streaks emanating from it. (This description is reminiscent of the black and orange fireball over Australia).
The most spectacular sky sighting the night of March 9, 2000 was seen by a couple near Mountain Home in the northern part of Arkansas at 10 pm (which may have been witnessed by others looking north from the Little Rock area). They had stepped outside to look at the stars and were startled to suddenly see a "bright white golfball size (at arm's length) orb" appear to hit what could only be described as a "glass dome" high in the atmosphere and totally illuminate the surrounding forest in an intensely bright white light.
After approximately 45 seconds the light receded and they described a golden red teardrop shaped fireball following the same track as the orbthis fireball having "two blue trails emanating from either side in the southwest sky "at the 11 o'clock position". The fireball appeared to be 4" long and " wide at arm's length.
At the same time this couple in Mountain Home witnessed this event (at about 10 pm), five friends were looking north "from the most northeastern side of one of the tallest hills in North Little Rock (approximately 90 miles south of Mountain Home) when "the northern nigh sky lit up like a fireball". "There was no streak from the sky, it looked more like a tremendous explosion."
During this evening, while cruising over Arkansas -- a commercial airline stewardess reported to the crew that a reddish spherical object was just off the wing of the aircraft. The co-pilot and a passenger were also witness to this strange light. Further information is now being pursued about this report.
At about 11:50 pm that night after hearing about this event, a friend of the five witnesses was sitting outside looking to the north and suddenly heard a loud explosion coming from the southeast of his position in Little Rock. "I turned around and saw what appeared to be a mushroom cloud" in that area.
And at 11:50 pm in the Little Rock area, Al Collier (reporter and journalist) heard reports over his police scanner that alarmed him. A commercial airline pilot had apparently witnessed a strange light in the sky followed by "mushroom clouds" on the ground southwest of Little Rock. Concerned about a possible downed aircraft, he radioed officials and reported what he had seen.
Witnesses on the ground in the area southeast of Little Rock in the adjoining counties of Lonoke, Pulaski and Jefferson were also reporting to local officials loud explosions and mushroom cloudsand strange fires covering a 40 mile area.
As the firemen and police arrived at the scene, they encountered strange fires indeed. One firemen reported that the heat from these fires was so intense that the paint began melting on his truck. When they were able to get closer to begin trying to get these fires under control, the firefighters were overcome by a strong sulfur-like smell seeing yellow sparkling small fires leaving circular patterns, and trees only burned halfway up their trunks. It was almost as if a corrosive molten liquid had spilled over the area burning into the roots of the trees and certain areas of grass and vegetationleaving adjacent areas completely untouched. (see for scene photographs)
Al Collier visited the area the following day and witnessed a most unusual scene. (see for his full reports) and took pictures for the record. The pictures reveal a white ash covering some of the grass, tree branches and vegetation in the area, foot deep craters in the ground with burned roots and soil. Only a few trees in the whole area had been burned a their tops most appeared to be singed only a fourth inch into the bark and burned up about 3 feet from ground level. A branch lay totally burned to a white ash lay next to green untouched grass and leaves
Firefighters remarked that they had never encountered a ground fire with these patterns of burning and sparking with not one tree totally consumed. One witness to these unusual fires stated that globs of fire were falling from tree branches to the ground (perhaps creating the craters?).
So what chemical or substance could account for this type of fire and explosive activity? Other pictures were taken at the scene by Craig McGinley. These show not only a whitish-gray residue covering much of the vegetation, but an unusual purple caked or powdery substance deep within some of the small craters in the area. Witnesses described the earth looked like baked clay with a light gray ash on top of it
Not only were there unusual fires and substances in this area. Al Collier was witness to what he described as a long "groove' cut into the ground which ended in an embankment of earth. He gathered samples of soil and substances from the area and reportedly gave these over to a research group for lab analysis...which has not been forthcoming. When he returned to the scene later, the whole area had been covered by new dirt and tracks of bulldozers and equipment was evident.
Others on the scene from government agencies also examined the area and took samples promised to make public lab reports and an assessment of the scene. No reports from any of the parties collecting samples have surfaced to date and follow-ups have run into dead-ends. Anyone with any information about "The Arkansas Fire Mystery" is invited to contact me or make reports available to researchers and the public. No doubt put together with other findings, these reports could be most enlightening.
Fireball & Fire Of Ventura County California 1998
Another event that seems to connect bright white lights with resulting unusual fires happened in Ventura County California in 1998 (see for scene photographs)
Excerpts from a report by Don Robertson:
"On September 10, 1998, the sky above the greater Los Angeles area lit up. Thousands of people saw a blue-white fireball arch from west to east, appearing to crash near Calabasas area in the valley. Two women, one in Simi Valley, and another in the mountains between Santa Monica and Calabasas, were witness to the event
"It was dusk, It wasn't that dark. I could still see the mountains. I was on the phone talking to a friend, looking out the window. 'My God!' I said to my friend, 'There's something on fire in the sky passing over my house!' There was no sound. It looked like something dropped off of it as it disappeared behind a nearby hill."
Simi Valley resident, further east, was about to enter her home. "It was getting dark enough to see the early stars, I just looked up as I was going back in the house, and there was a real bright light that came overhead from west to east. It looked like a comet with a tail. Sort of like a gas flame; blue and white in color. Once it passed my head, it changed into a Vee shape; like a Stealth Bomber, only more Vee shaped.
"The object traveled faster than a plane, about the same height as aircraft going into LAX [Los Angeles International Airport] and Burbank airport. As it continued eastward, all of a sudden there was a big blast of light, and poof, it was gone! It reminded me of a Star Trek movie when they're going into warp drive."
Evidence was gathered from local vegetation by the Ventura/Santa Barbara MUFON group and analyzed at a lab, along with radiation readings of a site near one of the witness' home. Analyses revealed that the vegetation was dehydrated, bark had separated from branches, an greyish-purple substance formed on top of leaves and bark, and trees exploded. Evidence was photographed and documented.
The similarities of this fire to that witnessed by the firefighters in Arkansas in 2000 is striking. Evidence of extreme heat that singed only the outer parts of vegetation and the caking and crusting of the ground and bushes with a strange grey material along with the sightings of a bright white light may indeed connect these two events.
Trailmakers & Daylight "Fireballs"
As I have said before there are contrails (short and long-lived) created by the exhaust of aircraft forming ice crystals and then there are some unusual long-lived trails in the atmosphere which may be created by something quite different from conventional aircraft.
In the 'green fireball' report referenced above, LaPaz refers to several different kinds of fireballs and attempts to distinguish the green fireball from others of different colorand those daylight smoky contrails left by "white lights". Many reports of these mysterious daylight 'fireballs' have surfaced over the years and some rather spectacular photographs and videos have been taken and documented on Tracers (see )
Some of these photographs clearly show and witnesses testify that the PC-related dark-white "combos" are responsible for at least some of the persistent contrails filling our skies. Some interesting photos of daytime "fireballs" reveal a rolling spherical light out in front of long persistent contrails while others appear to show remnants of a possible explosion or luminescent burst at one end of a trail.
One such photo was taken by Jon Burnett over Wales in the UK which was featured on NASA's "Picture of the Day" site. (see While still somewhat controversial, the photo does show a long persistent contrailhorizontal flight path with a mysterious rather luminescent 'burst' at the end of its run.
The UK trail was photographed and witnessed by yet another person from a different direction and angle 10 miles away (Julian Heywood) and there simply is no downward angle in its trajectoryleaving the possibility open that this is something other than a 'normal' contrail or a meteor. NASA certainly believed it to be something at least the size of a sofa exploding in the lower atmosphere.
Many reports indicate that the trails of both spherical lights and 'fireballs' appear luminous both during the day and at night.and that the evening sun reflects upon these trails in a different way than that of aircraft contrails. In addition to this, some report these "fireball" trails while very long and have been suspended for several minutes suddenly disappearvanish.
Multiple sightings of a "fireball(s)" in the Tulsa Oklahoma area at about 7-7:30pm on 10/13/2000 (confirmed by FAA sources) all contained reports of a long horizontal trail that appeared to be luminous differing greatly from aircraft contrails in the same areas. Luminosity in trails day and night indicate the presence of materials the fluoresce or self-illuminate (i.e., chemiluminescence or bioluminescence) which is a key in understanding both the process occurring within the trails and their capacity to make sudden 'disappearances'.
Yet another report was sent in earlier that day and the evening before from the Tulsa area which may also tell us something about the capability of the participating objects.
At about 6:45 that morning, a witness sent in a report describing a "huge orange fireball" that was stationary in the morning sky. This object then suddenly disappeared leaving a short vapor trail which then too vanished. As soon as this occurs another orange 'fireball' appears in the path and the sequence repeats itself for several more times. The similarity to my report of January 10, 1999 near Lewisville Lake in Texas is of interest (see:
This suggests a short burst of propulsion followed by a bright illumination of the object the trail dissipating rapidly and the object fading or 'winking out'. This pattern repeats itself suggests a particular type of propulsion. This is reminiscent of the 'skating' pattern of the 'NightFlyers' moving across the night skies at high altitude although these rarely show any signs of trails. (see
The day before at about the same time as the 'fireball' events reported on 10/13/00 a pink 'fireball' was reported above Tulsa "making small circles in the sky" at about 1000 feet in altitude. The witness reported that as a helicopter widely circled this object the object "broke into 2 balls that circled and eventually burned out."
These illuminated or fireball-like objects are a far cry from the quick, angled meteors which take a straight path across the atmosphere burning out at 50,000 feet. One is not like the other.
Unexplained "Meteor" Trails
On November 17, 1998 at 1:31 UTC, two parallel 'fireballs' described as a "flashes" with long luminescent trails were videographed during the Leonid meteor showers over the southern UK. These fireball-like objects followed a path on a straight trajectory. The unusual luminous trails remained in the atmosphere for at least 30 minutes following this bright sky eventexhibiting the billowing and spread of daylight persistent contrails.
Although these trails moved through the atmosphere at a 29 degree angle similar to a meteor, scientists at the Starfire Optical Range in New Mexico and others studying these "chemiluminescent" persistent contrails-- found it difficult to explain some of the striking characteristics.
During their path (shown on the video) from 116km to 86km in altitude, the brightness of the 'fireballs' varied significantly from normal meteoric train brightness which decreases continuously with descent. The parallel trails burned brightly to lower their intensity before flaring up once again before fading.
The trails were described as "tubes" and were noted to have a significant differential in brightness in opposite sides of each trailone side measured at 50% greater brightness than the other sidean unusual finding that also remained unexplained.
Na airglow or the normal ablating meteoric metals --could not account for the color or characteristics of these 'fireballs' and subsequent trails. The center of the tube was "dark" while the exterior showed extreme heat.
These persistent trails or "tubes" expanded at a constant rate of 10.5 plus or minus 0.5 ms with the highest region of heat on the outer edges which was 100 times the heat that would be expected. No adequate explanation could be offered for the constant rate of expansion and separation of the walls (not due to diffusion) or the extreme amount of heat on the exterior of the expanding contrail. (see:
Tubular shaped expanding persistent contrails have been described by many observers over the years of 'chemtrail' data gatheringand the 'flash' is reminiscent of the Jon Burnett sightingthe luminescence of many daytime and nighttime PC reports. Yet what is most interesting is the mystery of the extreme heat differentials between the interior of the November 17th fireball trails and the exterior walls of these tubes.
I offer a possibility that might be a plausible explanation for this heat differential.and the amount of heat on the exterior of these trails. As I have spoken of before in my articles, two types of objects are formed within a trail one which I refer to as "dark objects' (although these can be various colors) the other the larger "white objects" which appear to consist of polymers and other fluid or gaseous substances. (The dark objects and white objects are composed of different materials and perform different functions).
As the trail forms, the dark objects which can heat up and produce an orange glow and flash of light - line the outer edges of the trails.while the larger white objects are formed within the interior of the trails. If indeed the persistent contrails behind a fireball and luminous trail videographed and studied on November 17 1998 was one and the same as the PCs crossing the skies on a daily basis (simply occurring at the same time as the Leonid showers) -then the extreme heat of the dark objects flaring up could account for the heat in the exterior of these tubular trails. In addition -- luminous trails certainly are associated with the daylight and nighttime 'chemtrail' and PC sightings.
Cloud By Day - Fire By Night?
It is now apparent that the colored chemicals or gases contained in the materials of the dark objects can combine with the material of the white objects and produce light in the daylight hours. This light can be an intense flash or a more subtle glow. (see
Phoenix Arizona has seen much activity ranging from sightings and video of dark/white 'combos'. See the wonderful shots taken by Jeff Willes of Phoenix at which show the flexibility of the materials of the white objects during 'combo' activity. Rich Giordano also of Phoenix has taken some interesting shots of these objects.
While certainly not limited to Phoenix (photos of PCs and these related objects have been taken over many countries all over the planet), Phoenix has had its share of observable activity both day and night.
Jeff Willes' observation that the daylight photos that he took on the day of the widely observed and publicized Night of the Phoenix Lights on March 13, 1997 was recognized and featured by a local Phoenix television station. (see
When comparing the daylight sightings/photos with those taken at night over Phoenix, several factors certainly seem to link these sightingsother than the fact that all objects are spherical in shape and relatively the same size.
The night time photos taken by Dr. Lynne Kitei and Rob Kritkausky both of Phoenix and the day photos taken by Jeff Willes and Rich Giordano Exhibit the characteristics seen in dark/white 'combo' objects in other parts of the U.S. and world: (see and for night photos and video captures)
There is growing evidence to strongly suggest a connection between at least some of the spheres producing various degrees of light and color at night and the "cloudy" objects moving out of persistent contrails by day.
A remarkable photo taken during the evening hours by Mark Olson ( and does appear to show a dark/white 'combo' object beginning to glow after the sun has set. One can readily see two dark objects on either side of a larger white one the white object producing the low glow.
From Glow To Fireball?
A most interesting series of photographs taken at different times and locations illustrates a possible metamorphosis of very large 'combo' objects with multiple dark objects on the perimeter into much more than a mere glow or light in the sky.
The first in the series was taken by Dennis Hawley (at that time Chief Investigator for MUFON in Tampa Bay Florida) and clearly shows a large white spherical shaped object surrounded by dark objects below several PCs or trails. If one looks closely at the enlarged photo, one can see a reddish glow emanating from the area where each of the dark objects 'attach' to the larger white object. (see
This red stream corresponds with what appears to be chemicals or gases moving into the atmosphere from the connection of the dark and white objects near Mt. Popo Mexico. (see
The colors may be released by the dark object and mix with the white material of the larger white object to produce the various colors associated with night time glowing objects. And the release of these chemicals or gases may also be a source of light and/or heat. The mention above in the Arkansas Fire Mystery section of a fireball with two blue trails on either side of the object suggests the possibility that the dark objects may provide propulsion for the object at times.
The dark objects do flare up at times producing both heat and light with the color associated with this process an orange-red. In addition ionization around these 'combo' objects can produce a whitish-pink glow but apparently is not related per se to the release of the reddish chemical or gas.
The next in the series taken over Nevada shows two separate whitish spherical objects (here only one for illustrative purposes) which appear to have a colorful corona of luminous light. The prominent colors in this display are red, blue and yellow suggesting the release of these colored chemicals/gases from the various attached dark objects (some releasing redothers blueetc.) The light and colors are of course seen better as the light from the sun recedes.
The last image is a cropped and enlarged object from a photograph taken by Denise Patterson of the skies over Nevada. In this dramatic sighting and subsequent photograph, a large persistent contrail was seen forming across the desert on a relatively clear daythis soon followed by a large rolling fireball-like object moving over and very near the contrail.
Upon closer examination of the photograph, one can see not only the large fiery appearing spherical object and the long PC but several dark/white 'combo' objects and one yellowish spherical object. These 'combos' are much smaller and in close proximity to the trail. In the cropped and enlarged image of the fiery ball, one can see in addition to the goldish-orange glow of the central object and multiple dark areas lining the perimeter!
These three images do suggest a possible ignition process one initiated by the dark objects setting the entire white object "afire" the whole object then rolling across the sky. It appears from the video taken by Anthony Woods that the dark objects can and do release heat at times--which in turn may 'ignite' the material of the white object(s) producing in that case an intense flash of reddish colored light.
An amazing report came from a man in Willets, California who videotaped a fireball event on the night of January 21, 2004 and discovered a very interesting occurrence while freeze-framing the footage. Within split seconds, he reports, the large fireball-like object appears to change shape into a oblong object containing 11 small balls of light in various pastel colors. (This is reminiscent of the variety of colors seen the Rob Kritkautsky's video capture mentioned above). The captures from the witness' videotape then show these 11 objects progressively combine 11 objectsto 10to 8to 4to 2 and then one large fireball-like object.
If this video is an accurate representation of at least one type of intense fiery light in the sky it does suggest that some 'fireballs' crossing the skies may indeed be composed of more that one object.
And considering that the larger version of the dark/white PC related objects are composed of several dark objects (which glow orange at night) and a large white one (as seen in the 'fireball' photo by Patterson above) it is plausible that at lease some of the unusual and unexplained "fireball" sightings may indeed be those most unusual large PC-related "combo" objects moving across the night a most spectacular way.
Perhaps these objects of cloud and fire have been with us in our skies for longer than we might imagine reaching further into earth's history than most could conceive. Consider the following:
A sighting occurred at 9.45 pm on the evening of August 18, 1783 when four witnesses on the terrace of Windsor Castle observed a luminous object in the skies of the Home Counties of England. The sighting was recorded the following year in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
Tiberius Cavallo, Fellow of the Royal Society, wrote in his memoirs.
"Northeast of the Terrace, in clear sky and warm weather, I saw appear suddenly an oblong cloud nearly parallel to the horizon. Below the cloud was seen a luminous body, brightly lit up and almost stationary... This strange ball at first appeared bluish and faint, but its light increased, and it soon began to move. At first, it ascended above the horizon, obliquely toward the east. Then it changed its direction and moved parallel to the horizon. It vanished in the southeast. I saw it for half a minute, and the light it gave out was prodigious. It lit up every object on the face of the country. It changed shape to oblong, acquired a tail, and seemed to split up into two bodies of small size. About two minutes later came a rumble like an explosion.



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