6YJCX From Jamaica, joined Dec 2007, 23 posts, RR: 0 Posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2297 times:
A few years ago on a late night flight ATL - RDU a group of us in f watched a bright light, apparently from ground level, track with us for 20 or so minutes. The moon was full and high at the time and there was no snow or frost on the ground, which is mostly farm fields and forests in that area. The concensus was that it was likely a reflection of moonlight but no one could speculate on the physics that would allow reflections from that type surface - lakes are in the area but not large enough to drive this for 20 minutes. After 40 years flying commercial and GA for over 3m miles I had never seen this before or since over land. Any suggestions?
Tdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12710 posts, RR: 81
Reply 3, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 2061 times:
Quoting 6YJCX (Thread starter): The concensus was that it was likely a reflection of moonlight but no one could speculate on the physics that would allow reflections from that type surface
Depending on the angle and the temperature conditions, you might be getting a reflection off the boundary between air layers. I'm not sure what the typical angle of total internal reflection is for air boundaries, but it should be possible.
WestWing From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2138 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 1998 times:
Was your light source definitively "on the ground" as you say? A few years ago, Mars was at it's closest to Earth and was very bright in the night sky (brighter than Venus) . Is it at all possible that it was a planet (Mars/Venus) low on the horizon?
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Spacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3868 posts, RR: 11
Reply 5, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 1808 times:
Low hanging overcast? Moonlight can reflect off that pretty continuously, and in the dark, you're not going to be able to tell that you're looking at cloud tops and not ground if it's mostly just forest (ie. no other ground lights that would be covered up).
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