Venus results in UFO calls to astronomers

It’s REALLY bright and people think it’s moving. But it’s not moving and not unidentified, it’s Venus.

UFO calls over bright lights of Venus.

Although it’s simply the planet Venus on its evening cycle, the Adelaide Planetarium has reported a number of callers concerned the unusually bright planet may be a supernatural occurrence.

“We have had some UFO calls,” said resident astronomy educator Martin Lewicki.

Mr Lewicki said those who ventured out into the bush on a ‘dark, moonless night’ could easily be fooled into thinking the brightly lit planet was moving.

The planet has been dominating the night sky since April and Mr Lewicki said people tended to forget it can appear in both the morning and night skies, depending on its cycle.

He said cloudy nights can sometimes produce a trick image for the eye, blurring the light and making the planet appear larger than it is.

Venus is so frequently mistaken as a moving UFO. This is a good lesson in eyewitness testimony. People can be very very mistaken.

Here is our collection of “It looks like Venus, but it’s not” stories:

That Darn Venus, Again.

Venus mistaken for a UFO #375,907.

No one is immune from misperceptions: Pilot mistakes Venus for aircraft .

  2 comments for “Venus results in UFO calls to astronomers

  1. Bones
    November 9, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Don’t know what it is w/ Venus, but once with a friend out in the Mojave desert, right after sunset, we both SWORE it was moving. But we knew it was Venus, and it wasn’t moving. It’s some kind of weird effect, maybe when there are no trees or tall objects in the picture, how the brain interprets it since it’s bright. If that’s so, it goes a way toward explaining why pilots frequently report it as a flying object.

  2. Ray
    November 12, 2013 at 5:27 AM

    I experienced something once that was very similar in that I thought something was moving that clearly wasn’t. I was in Montana a few years ago in the Red Lodge area. It was in the spring and there were still some patches of snow left on the mountain tops. One person I was with saw such a patch at a distance but thought that it might have been a mountain goat. We stared at it and tried to decide if it was moving. It turned out that the more you stared at it the more you became convinced that it was indeed moving. But then if you looked away and back at it again it was obvious that it hadn’t moved all. Each time you looked at it you got the impression that it was moving. And each time you looked away and then back again it was clear that it still hadn’t moved. Clearly it was just a patch of snow and not a mountain goat.

    This is probably the same phenomenon of perception that those people experienced who thought Venus was moving in the sky.

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