Anomaly hunters drool over mysterious ‘sphere’ spotted in NASA images

Doubtful News welcomes Scott Brando @ufoofinterest as a contributor.

Here we go again…

NASA publishes through its official channels an apparently unusual image, and some people jump to the conclusion that it’s a UFO or mysterious. Then the agency is accused of covering up the truth.

The latest is from NASA’s SECCHI spacecraft (Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation) which photographs the Sun’s surface. SECCHI’s telescopes caught a “huge sphere” passing in front of the Sun that some claim shows a UFO exploring our solar system or the mythical planet Nibiru.

The images, dated November 16-17, 2016, can be found on NASA’s Stereo Science Center by selecting Ahead HI1 Telescope view. Here is the sequence.

News about this “blue spherical object” went viral thanks to the tabloids (The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Daily Mail) and the Russian-based, RT.com, all of whom [are on our Beyond Doubtful list] wasted no time copying/pasting the same “facts” without examining the claims, suggesting a reasonable explanation, or asking any experts.

The image has a very normal explanation. It’s a glitch. The STEREO Image Artifacts page reveals the explanation:

Not everything visible in STEREO images is related to the Sun or the solar atmosphere. Some features are caused by the telescope optics, the cameras used to capture the images, or how the STEREO spacecraft are operated. These features can be quite confusing, and require some explanation.

NASA also explains:

On rare occasions, the SECCHI image processor onboard STEREO becomes overloaded, and produces corrupted images. Generally, these take the form of images from one telescope processed as if they were from another telescope. Because the images from the Heliospheric Imager (HI) telescopes are built up from a large number of exposures added together, this sometimes results in “double exposures”, where data from several telescopes appear in the same image.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-9-22-13-am

Here is a comparison between the “sphere” spotted by Ahead HI1 telescope and the Sun taken by Ahead EUVI 171 telescope.

sphere-compare
Numbers 1, 2 and 3 indicating the same dark solar areas (coronal holes) in different images, but in the Ahead EUVI 171, the Sun is rotated 90 degrees and flipped horizontally.

Image rotated 90 degrees
rotated

Image flipped horizontally:
flipped

The mysterious “sphere” is just a glitch. That’s all. Although fascinating, the images were not mysterious. It’s useless to be surprised at this blowup of speculation, the media know people love the mystery angle and consider the truth boring. That’s unfortunate they miss the Sun staring them right in the face.

  8 comments for “Anomaly hunters drool over mysterious ‘sphere’ spotted in NASA images

  1. Bob Jase
    November 22, 2016 at 12:46 PM

    Can we be sure it isn’t the orb-ghost of some dead star?

    I just want to see if someone picks up & runs with that explanation.

  2. Bob Blaskiewicz
    November 22, 2016 at 6:12 PM

    This is hilarious and sad in equal measure.

    It’s a cool effect though.

  3. Naz Allen
    November 22, 2016 at 7:02 PM

    Really does look a lot like a double exposure with the sun. Not doubting it, just curious; seems like a really weird failure mode. The processor has more work to do than it can do so it confuses one telescope with the other rather than just dropping frames?

  4. Randall Krippner
    November 22, 2016 at 7:35 PM

    Well, to be fair the Daily Mail did publish an actual factual article about it on 22 Nov. that debunked the whole rogue planet/wormhole/giant space weasel/whatever theories, and that even presented some reasonably (for the DM, anyway) accurate information about coronal holes. Still you have a good point, the DM is generally about as reliable a source for actual factual information as my cats are.

    I’ve been an amateur astronomer for something like 30 years, and do astrophotography and video imaging, so stories like this irritate the heck out of me. I’m constantly amazed at how gullible people can be. Back in the mid 90s when Hale-Bopp was coming through you wouldn’t believe some of the nonsense that was floating around and even getting published in allegedly reliable media sources. Naturally occurring jets caused by the outgassing of volatile materials being called ‘maneuvering thrusters’, alleged objects following the comet that were lens flares caused stray light in the telescope’s optics. Whenever astronomers issued corrections to their calculations of the comet’s orbit you could be sure someone would come along and call it a ‘course correction’… I wrote an article debunking the whole thing at the time and got it published on a website that, I only discovered after I’d sold it and to my everlasting shame, pushed bizarre theories about crystal skulls and bigfoot…

    I try to make allowances. I know that not everyone is an astronomer, often are not even remotely interested in astronomy, so of course people are going to make errors. But something like this? Oh, brother.

  5. James Wright
    November 23, 2016 at 5:03 PM

    See. Now, I may be living too much inside my own skeptical bubble (great podcast BTW). But it really didn’t occur to me that this was such a big deal. The blue orb just looked like the sun to me no matter what rotation was applied to it. And as it was stated, they were SUPPOSED to be taking images of the sun, so what else could it have been?

  6. Chris Hunt
    November 24, 2016 at 7:36 AM

    To be fair, given what the weather’s like here in the UK in November, the sun is considered to BE a UFO.

  7. Matt
    November 24, 2016 at 8:21 PM

    You’d think of all publications, “The Sun” would be able to identify it.

  8. November 25, 2016 at 7:41 PM

    😀

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