Phoenix Lights: Identified.

Current Affairs

There’s been a bit of excitement here in Phoenix today. There were four lights seen in the night sky last night, and the story about their siting has been picked up all over the media today.

(I didn’t see the lights btw. I was watching a movie (Enchanted).)

Now there’s an explanation for the lights according to local news:

“ABC15’s Jon DuPre talked to one north Phoenix man late Tuesday afternoon who said he watched his neighbor launch four helium balloons with flares attached to them right before the mysterious lights were spotted.

He said he believed this could be the source of Monday night’s sightings.

ABC15 knocked on the door and talked to that neighbor, who then said he didn’t launch the flares, and instead it was another neighbor several doors down.

A Phoenix police helicopter pilot also witnessed the lights and described them as resembling flares.

FAA officials told ABC15 on Tuesday that air traffic controllers in the Sky Harbor tower saw the lights, but noticed nothing on their radar, meaning it was not an aircraft.”

Occam’s razor would lead us to conclude this explanation is the correct explanation… don’t you think?

Read the rest here. There’s video of the lights there as well.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. So – four helium balloons with flares sent up by a next door neighbor? How convenient!
    There are a few too many questions in my mind to accept that as an answer right off the bat. How big would the balloons have to be to be able to lift up what I’m assuming would be a somewhat heavy flare? I’m thinking pretty darn big. What altitude would the helium balloons reach with the flares attached? Wouldn’t the flares be in danger of going out if they reach too high of an altitude without enough oxygen? I don’t really know how they work, but I’d think these flares would have to be pretty high up in the sky for them to be seen by any great numbers of people. Also, some of the videos I saw of this posted on YouTube showed five lights floating around, not four. And what motivation would the prankster have for doing this, other than just generally causing trouble and getting himself on the news?
    The lights certainly didn’t appear to be moving very much in any of the videos, and did seem to be floating, so I don’t think it was a repeat of the famous Phoenix Lights we saw back in 1997, which were much more widely seen and much less easy to explain away, given all of the accounts.
    I’m pretty hesitant to dismiss these types of things with simple explanations, mostly because I’ve read too much of how government agencies tend to respond to this – especially when it comes to things like Project Blue Book, the textbook example, which in the most intriguing cases was nothing but a whitewash.
    While I don’t yet buy the whole idea of somebody sending up flares attached to balloons as some kind of fun “Monday night idea”, I’m not getting too excited over this one. I think if we were to hear more reports from people in widely-scattered geographic areas who talked more about the lights moving around a lot, there would be something questionable here.
    There have been some comments I found on a few conspiracy nut forums where people talked about psychic energies all coming together on April 22 and resulting in a massive UFO sighting over Phoenix, so I guess it could be some type of self-fulfilling prophesy. That’s the only motivation I could see.
    What was it? Who knows, but not mysterious enough to spend time investigating.

  2. Terry Hoyland says

    Hi Fr Nick.
    Confirming your Occam’s Razor comment on Phoenix mysterious lights. Years ago, when I was a science teacher, four of my students launched an alien spacecraft from one of their backyards in Prairie Village, KS. It consisted of several large helium balloons lifting a thin lucite plate to which they had attached some small light sources. I had recently mentioned to that particular class the problem of people who claimed to see alien spacecraft. Their “science project” took off and was locally identified as a UFO by a number of residents.

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