Fast random motion of an orb over Reading, England

William C. Treurniet, August, 2011

Summary. In July, 2011, a luminous orb was recorded on video making rapid random movements in the sky over Reading, England. The orb appeared to be near the cloud ceiling since it was seen to pass behind a piece of cloud material. Given this altitude, it's diameter was calculated to be about 5 m. The orb's extreme estimated velocity suggests that it was most likely "painted" in the sky by a ground-based mechanism. The phenomenon may be a result of UK military research proposed more than a decade ago to create plasma balls in the sky.

An earlier article describes two UFOs seen and photographed over Reading, England, by Claire O'Regan on July 22, 2011. An hour and a half later at around 12:30 PM, she placed a video camera (JVC GZ-MG680) on a tripod and pointed it upward at an angle of 85°. The camera recorded 20 minutes of the sky without using zoom. It was unattended while recording, and the anomalies to be discussed here were found when viewing the recorded video later. During about 20 sec of the recording, a white dot appeared and executed apparently random movements in the sky. This activity is shown in the following portion of the video. The segment was extracted from the original JVC MOD video file using the VLC media player, and transcoded to the MP4 format.

The motion of the dot reminds one of random processes that occur in nature. For example, it might have been caused by a particularly reflective insect flying in a restricted space in front of the camera. Or it might have been sunlight focused by a raindrop bobbing in a spider web suspended just above the camera. However, a careful frame-by-frame study of the video revealed that these kinds of explanations do not apply. In one of the frames, a streak formed by the dot appears to pass behind strands of cloud material. This is shown in the following images cropped from two successive frames at approximately 00:09 sec. Therefore, the analysis indicates that the dot must be a larger object located at the level of the clouds.

  Original  Enhanced 
No Object     
Figure 1. Successive video frames showing the object entering a cloud. 

During playback, each frame has a duration of 1/25 sec, and this rate is fast enough that motion appears continuous. In a frame-by-frame analysis of a flying bird, for example, the shape of the bird was found to have moved a distance on successive frames that depends on the speed of the bird's motion. Most of the time, the white dot in the video also moves some distance from one frame to the next, and appears to move with a corresponding velocity.

But the above image shows a streak rather than a dot. So in that particular time frame, the dot appears to have transformed to an elongated form which persisted for only 1/25th of a second. However, there is an alternative explanation that does not require a change in shape. To prevent smearing due to motion, the camera electronics must capture the contents of the input array almost instantaneously - probably on the order of a few milliseconds. Perhaps the dot's motion was so fast that it illuminated the entire length of the smear just before the optical data was transferred to an input buffer for further processing.

The following image shows another effect incompatible with the insect explanation. It was cropped from a frame in the video near 00:17 sec where there is a bright streak followed by a dot some distance away. Both the streak and the dot must have been created during the exposure interval in the frame just before the optical data was collected. During this time, the dot first formed the streak at high speed, switched off its brightness, then switched back on when it reached the location of the bright spot some distance away. Note that variations in the brightness of the dot might also have contributed to the uneven brightness of the streak.

Figure 2. A high velocity streak from the camera sensor. 

We can make a rough estimate of the object's velocity in Figure 2. From information available at the Weather Underground, we know that the cloud ceiling was about 1100 m at the time the video was recorded. We can assume that the light dot was at this altitude since it appeared to pass through the underside of a cloud in Figure 1. The camera field of view was measured to be about 52°, and we will assume an image capture time of 5 msec just before the data for the frame is transferred from the CCD sensor to a camera buffer. The beginning of the streak in the frame to the following dot subtends an angle of 12.3°. Calculations show that this distance is about 240 m and it was traversed at a speed of approximately 48 km/sec. Further, the diameter of the unsmeared dot is about 5 m. The dots elsewhere in the video appear to be roughly that size as well.

In the following sequence of frames also seen near 00:09 sec, the dot in the first frame appears to have moved in both the left and right directions in the second frame. Very rapid movement and flickering on and off are also indicated in this frame by the visible track. In the extreme left of the third frame, a single dot is again seen.

Figure 3. An interrupted streak and bi-directional motion of the dot. 


The orb's tremendous velocity of 48 km/sec estimated from the available data cannot be achieved by any known physical propulsion system. However, the object could have been "painted" in the sky like a flashlight shining a beam of light at a distant wall. The 12.3° angle covered during the 5-msec data capture interval would have required a rotational speed of a ground-based control system of only about 6.8 revolutions per second. Therefore, this mechanism is feasible if a technology exists to create a ball of plasma high in the sky.

The UK Ministry of Defence acknowledged in a summary report, written in 2000 but released in 2006, that unexplained luminous objects in the sky have occasionally been seen. However, "the conditions for the initial formation and sustaining of what are apparently buoyant charged masses, which can form, separate, merge, hover, climb, dive and accelerate are not completely understood". The report suggests that such objects are likely glowing plasmas resulting from particular natural configurations of electromagnetic fields. It also notes that, since such charged masses can appear as visual, infra-red and radar targets, they could be useful militarily as decoy targets, or as passive electromagnetic spectrum energy-absorbers. The report recommends that the applicability of various characteristics of plasmas in novel military applications should be investigated, and says that MoD technology managers had already been briefed regarding the implications.

An additional motivation mentioned in the report for doing such research was Russia's apparent interest in studying plasma technologies related to "very high power energy generation, RF Weapons, Impulse Radars, air vehicle drag and radar signature reduction or control, and possibly for radar reflecting decoys". So in the year 2000, both the UK and Russia expressed interest in the possibility of creating plasma balls at a distance. We may well be seeing the fruits of that research more than ten years later in the above video.

There are only suggestions in the public domain scientific literature on how such plasma balls might be created. We know from a published report that the EISCAT antenna array in Norway created glowing balls of plasma in the sky that were visible from the ground. If the research has progressed since then so that large antenna farms are no longer required, it might be used anywhere to create visible plasma balls in the sky. Another approach is suggested by what has been called Super Potential Theory. This theory points to a technology that creates energy at a distance without flowing through space like the more familiar electromagnetic energy.


The above analysis of the video shows that a luminous orb with a diameter of about 5 m made rapid random movements in the sky near the cloud layer. This altitude can be inferred since the object was seen to pass through a piece of cloud material. Further, the orb's brightness appeared to switch on and off during the camera's very brief optical data acquisition interval. The orb may be a result of UK military research proposed more than a decade ago to create plasma balls in the sky.


See a discussion of a second video recorded a month later from the same location, which shows another relatively stationary luminous orb in the path of an aircraft.