Land of the living skies has taken on a whole new meaning for one local stargazer recently.
Matthew Neuls, 28, and a friend took to the dusty, prairie back roads late in the evening of July 13, and after staring into the dark abyss for hours they spotted something unusual.
“Around 3 a.m. we saw a really bright light that seemed too close to be a satellite or a plane,” he said.
Neuls quickly whipped out his video camera and recorded the “star-like object” from their location a couple kilometres east of Moose Jaw. Cars driving along Highway 1 can be heard in the background of the recording.
“There was no noise (from the object) or exhaust trail or anything like that,” he said, “just a solid, white light.”
The unidentified flying object was heading in the direction of Regina and the sky watchers estimated it was only a few thousand feet from the earth, travelling only a couple hundred km/h. They watched it for several minutes until it went behind a cloud and never returned.
While the team was excited to see what they considered a strange object in the sky, this wasn’t the first time Neuls has spotted something like this around the Friendly City. He has been observing night sky objects for around 10 years, he said.
Curious, the friends headed back out the next night to see if anything would reappear. After waiting patiently for several hours again, and almost getting ready to pack it in, they saw what they had come for.
This second sighting happened at about the same location and about the same time, just outside Moose Jaw, but in this instance the light was heading directly towards them in the sky.
“Eventually it went over us and faded off into the distance,” Neuls said. “It was a lot closer than the one before, I’m guessing about 1,000 or 2,000 feet (from the earth).”
In the past, Neuls said some of his sightings would flash or blink before they disappeared, but these objects remained solid until they were gone.
Although the friends reported no sound coming from the sightings, the Times-Herald reached out to both the Moose Jaw Municipal Airport and the Regina International Airport to find out if they had any flights happening during the time.
Representatives from both airports said they did not have any flights in the sky during the times of the sightings.
The next logical explanation given the location of the sightings just east of Moose Jaw, would be a farmer doing some sort of work.
Wade Gray is a local grain farmer who used to run his own crop spraying company. He admitted that farmers often spray for pests during the night, but only by land, never by air.
“The airplanes, I don’t think, can spray at night,” he said. “I honestly can’t think of what else it could possibly be.”
Gray suggested the idea that it could be a drone, but couldn’t figure out a reason a farmer would be using a drone for anything in the middle of the night. Not only that, it doesn’t explain the bright light.
Lastly the Times-Herald reached out to 15 Wing, who also confirmed they did not have any flights in the sky the night of the sightings.
During the week flights are usually grounded around 6:30 p.m. and there is even less flying on weekends, explained Capt. Chris Jacobson, deputy 15 Wing operations officer.
“Sometimes the missions will land after dark, but very rarely at 3 a.m.,” Jacobson said. “If we’re flying locally, usually we’re done around 1 a.m. or so.”
There is nothing happening out at the base that the public isn’t aware of or can’t watch in the sky from the highway.
“What you see during the day and flying hours is really what we do,” Jacobson told the Times-Herald.
Students, instructors and pilots at 15 Wing fly the Harvard propeller planes, the Hawks fighter jets and the Snowbird tutor planes. None of which are very quiet, let alone silent.
There is nothing classified going on at the base and no secrets to hide, he said. Just typical military training.
“We’re a far cry from area 51,” said Jacobson with a chuckle.
Another representative from 15 Wing, who receives UFO reports from the public, said they rarely get calls about unidentifiable flying objects, the last one being about three years ago.
Neuls didn’t report his sightings to any authority, because he already thinks he knows what they are.
“I believe they could be spherical, star-like UFOs that have an entirely luminous surface,” he said.
“Because they were fairly high altitude sightings, I can’t be 100 per cent sure, but I’m sure it’s probable based on my previous sightings that were a lot closer.”