If you take UFO sightings seriously then you would certainly have heard of the Hessdalen lights. These bizarre light phenomena have been seen in Norway’s Hessdalen valley since at least the 1940’s. Over the ensuing decades, camera and video footage have captured countless strange images of long stretched balls of light, either floating or zooming around the sky.
Naturally, this world-famous light display has attracted the attention of ufologists and UFO news sources over the years. Nowadays, however, few people believe the Hessdalen lights are the result of UFO activity by extraterrestrial visitors. Nevertheless, the phenomenon does raise the question as to how many apparent UFO sightings in the past have been a result of similar puzzling natural events.
Hessdalen Lights Mystery
Mysterious lights in the Hessdalen valley often appear white or yellow in color. These lights can also appear in the sky for hours on end. In fact, sightings have been so prolific that in 1998 the Hessdalen Automatic Measurement Station (Hessdalen AMS) was set up specifically to record the strange activity. These days, scientists from all over the world travel to the Hessdalen valley in order to study them in their surroundings.
So far, there has been no convincing evidence found to explain these “phantom lights”. Numerous hypotheses exist as to their origin, though. These include the following:
- Clouds of dust containing scandium from the valley floor combusting in the air.
- Cold plasma arranged as cluster of Coulomb crystals during radon decay.
- Piezoelectricity generated under certain rock strains.
- Rocks either side of the valley’s sulfurous river creating a natural ‘valley-battery’ with the ionized gas then charged by solar wind.
Adding to their mystery, however, is the fact these light phenomena often appear solid, shiny and cylindrical in shape. Furthermore, they can hover or shoot off at incredible speeds. And often leave traces of radiation behind.
Rare Atmospheric Phenomena
In 2006, the British Ministry Of Defence made its UFO files public. High on their list of possible UFO explanations was aircraft, weather balloons and Chinese lanterns. The MOD’s scientific study subsequently concluded that so-called UFO sightings are almost certainly linked to “physical, electrical and magnetic phenomena in the atmosphere, mesosphere and ionosphere.” As the study explains:
“They appear to originate due to more than one set of weather and electrically-charged conditions and are observed so infrequently as to make them unique to the majority of observers. There seems to be a strong possibility that at least some of the events may be triggered by meteor re-entry, the meteors neither burning up completely nor impacting as meteorites, but forming buoyant plasmas. The conditions and method of formation of the electrically-charged plasmas and the scientific rationale for sustaining them for significant periods is incomplete or not fully understood.”
In other words, accounting for many UFO sightings are electrical “plasma” phenomena, and curiosities such as ball lighting, and sprite lightning.
Astronomical objects like meteors and comets also help to explain some sightings. As well as meteorological
phenomena, such as lenticular clouds (photo). Or to give them their Latin name altocumulus lenticularis, which form a disc-like cloud that can seems to hover in the sky.
A good many UFO sightings are also likely a result of optical phenomena. In particular, the celebrated and complex form of mirage known as a Fata Morgana.
Fata Morgana is an optical illusion created when a layer of warm air resting above cold air forms a refracting lens. This distorts light from a distant object making it appear upside down or right side up. As well as magnified, distorted and capable of changing in form rapidly.
This mirage takes its name from the Arthurian shape-shifting sorceress Morgan le Fay. This phenomenon can be observed on land, and at sea where sailors have mistakenly identified distant objects, such as boats, islands, and the coastline as ghost ships (Flying Dutchmen).
An image of an object located below the horizon can also be refracted vertically above the horizon. In this way, it looks like it’s hovering in the sky.
Meanwhile, astronomical objects when captured by a Fata Morgana can behave remarkably similar to a UFO. For instance, the planet Venus appearing to dart around the sky and covering great distances, before then vanishing in the blink of an eye.
Min Min and Marfa Lights
Undoubtedly many UFOs sightings are due to Fata Morgana mirages. Such as the Marfa Lights in the USA or the Min Min lights of Australia. Australian neuroscientist Professor Jack Pettigrew from the University of Queensland has studied the Min Min lights, which are ghostly lights that can suddenly appear in front of startled observers. Scientists now believe them to be the result of refracted light traveling in a path following the Earth’s curvature. As Pettigrew explains:
“It’s like the way light travels in a fibre optic, no matter which way you bend the fibre. The light is being carried hundreds of kilometres by this layer of air that traps the light and stops it from being dispersed.”
UFO Sightings The Stuff Of Legends
People continue to report UFO sightings on a daily basis. It’s certainly exciting to contemplate unsolved mysteries and extraterrestrial encounters back here on earth. However, many of the phenomena just discussed likely account for a great deal of these historical legends.
You are now better acquainted with such seemingly supernatural or alien phenomena. Therefore, next time the conditions are right take time to look closely for such extraordinary mirages. And perhaps you will gain a better appreciation of the stuff that legends are made of.