An unusual UFO over Reading, Part I

William C. Treurniet, November, 2010

Summary. In July, 2010, an unusual UFO moving across the sky over Reading, England, was photographed repeatedly over a 95 second interval. The pink and white object had an organic shape that changed often over the sequence of photographs. The object was observed to move in a zig-zag pattern inconsistent with passively drifting in the wind. Thus, the shape changes are not likely due to changes in orientation of a fixed-shape object, or the tumbling of a set of helium-filled balloons. A similar unusual shape appeared in a photograph of a UFO over New York City taken three months later. These shapes are also similar to some aerial forms photographed by Anthony Woods over the UK as recently as 2004.

On July 17, 2010, Claire O'Regan of Reading, England, photographed an unusual object as it moved through the sky overhead. She took 14 photographs with a Nikon D60 digital camera, following the object over a period of 1 min and 35 sec. These photographs were among a larger set containing additional anomalies that she forwarded to the author for analysis. The object was very small in each photograph, but due to the high resolution of the images (3872x2592 pixels), it could be cropped and enlarged to show considerable detail. The sequence of cropped images, appoximately 6-7 times the size of the originals, are shown in the following table. The original photograph having the smallest file size (~1 MB), taken at 18:27:31, can be seen here to gain a sense of perspective.

Sequence of photos (July 17, 2010)
18:27:13  18:27:17  18:27:18 
18:27:21  18:27:31  18:28:16 
18:28:18  18:28:23  18:28:26 
18:28:27  18:28:34  18:28:36 
18:28:38  18:28:48 

The object's shape seems to vary organically over time. For example, compare the object at times 18:27:17 and 18:27:31. In the first case, the object has an egg shape marked with pink lines while, in the second case, the object appears as if the lines have tightened and squeezed the egg into three joined bulbs. This brings to mind an image of cell mitosis, suggesting that the object might be biological in nature. It cannot be a nearby organism such as a bird or insect, however, since it was followed visually for 95 sec from the photographer's position, and was clearly high in the sky. The observed changes in shape over the range of images also mean that it is not a single, high-flying balloon.

Can one rule out the possibility that the object is a cluster of white balloons, tied together with pink ribbon and tumbling in the wind? This could have the effect of a continuously changing two-dimensional projection recorded by the camera. However, according to the photographer, the motion of the object was not consistent with a set of balloons drifting in the breeze. In her words, "I noticed that the object had a mechanical movement - it was a forward, left, forward, left motion, almost a judder. It became clear to me that this object was moving itself, rather than something moving it". The object appeared to be at a high altitude, and although the movements were tiny, they could be clearly seen. She offers in the following figure, a graphic depiction of the object's path as it moved along. Such a path is clearly at odds with wind as the only propulsive force.


As a further indication that the object was most likely not a set of balloons, another object that was clearly a balloon was photographed as it drifted past approximately 15 min after capturing the above sequence. This balloon was obviously being carried by the wind, and it was out of sight in a short time. Click on the following image to see the complete photograph.


In this photo, a relatively long ribbon is suspended below the balloon. Such a ribbon is typically used to anchor the helium-filled balloon near the ground. There is no indication of such a thing hanging below the mystery object. Since a set of helium-filled balloons accidentally released at a party is almost certain to have such long appendages attached, their absence is additional evidence that the object is probably not a cluster of balloons.


The object does not have the fixed shape that is usually seen in UFO sightings. A remarkably similar organic shape was seen recently in a single photograph of a UFO over New York City. It was supposedly taken during the UFO flap on October 13, 2010. The published photograph (e.g., [1],[2], or [3],) is shown below on the left, and the slightly enlarged object cropped from that photo is on the right.


The object in this photograph was presented as a possible balloon in a news report carried by a number of outlets. Further, the article contained an interview with a bystander which suggested that the object in the accompanying photograph was being discussed. However, it appears that this particular object had actually been photographed days earlier (see here). All media reports attributed the photo to the twitter account of @jasondiamond. This account reports the following on October 9, 2010: "I totally caught a UFO hovering over the upper east side". Apparently, a photo used by the media to represent the spectacle of UFOs over New York City on October 13 was actually taken four days earlier.

Some have suggested that the owner of the twitter account published the photograph as a hoax. This seems unlikely now given the similarity of the object in this photograph to the object in the Reading photographs. Photographs of the Reading object were first published here on November 23, 2010, so these were not yet available when the New York photograph was published. The appearance of similar UFOs in photographs taken in such different places and times strongly suggests that this novel form of UFO is not a hoax.

James Neff has compiled a review of apparently organic forms that have appeared in the skies over the years. Of particular relevance in the review are the many photographs of seemingly living things captured by Anthony Woods in the skies over the United Kindom. Some of these objects are quite similar to the object in the Reading photographs. It appears that Claire O'Regan is continuing the work of Anthony Woods who is now retired.

See Part II for an analysis of a video prequel of the object pictured in the sequence of still images above. The video contains additional evidence that the object is not a balloon drifting in the wind.