News 12 at 6 & 11 O'clock, May 4, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga.--- For centuries, people have been looking up into the night sky, wondering, is there anybody else out there? That sense of wonder is heightened even more by strange sightings. Things in the sky that just can not be explained. People in this part of Georgia and South Carolina seem to be very familiar with the night lights.
We know that, because they call the newsroom to tell us. They send us e-mails too. What they don't usually want to do is go on camera. Kenny McGee and Casey Campbell look more like bikers than astronomers. But the guys saw something strange in the sky. Not way out in the country somewhere.
But here on a busy stretch of Wrightsboro road between the mall and Daniel Field.
"One sphere, 2 spheres, 3,4,5," Kenny explained.
"It was like, if you was to take your fingers and go 1,2,3,4,5. That's how it appeared- deh-deh-deh-deh-deh," Casey added.
Casey actually saw it first by himself. He laughs about it now.
" I told everybody about it. I told Kenny and told the other guys that work here and they laughed about it. Like ha ha, whatever, you know."
But a week later Kenny saw it too. The lights looked to be a few miles away just above the treetops. Red glowing orbs. Ten seconds later they disappeared.
"They were gone, then another 30 degrees over in the sky there were two more of them," Kenny told us." And that process repeated itself again and they went out and they were gone."
Casey picks up the story. "And it stayed lit maybe 6,7,8, seconds and then it blinked out. Then all the sudden it was over here but there was only 2 of 'em. And to travel that distance that fast within literally a second or 2. No, nothing I've ever seen could do it."
And as odd as it all sounds- they're not alone. A 2008 poll by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University shows 56 percent of adults believe it is very likely or somewhat likely that intelligent life exists on other worlds. Eight percent say they have seen a mysterious object in the sky. And about 33 percent believe that aliens have visited our planet.
Which brings us back to Kenny and Casey on Wrightsboro road. They're both ex-military by the way. Casey was in the Navy. Kenny with the Signal Corps at Fort Gordon.
Kenny says they're not ones to believe "like- hey, aliens are fixin' to land. You know? And we don't think it's extra terrestrials for that matter. We don't know, but we know we saw something that was completely unidentifiable and that was oddly strange and large in size.
So, what did they see? Casey will only say "Lights."
That's about as far as he's willing to go with it.
"Exactly," Casey says.
He's not a UFO freak?
"Oh no, no."
Whatever it was- they did some research and found the same reports have been documented- for years. Right here in our night sky.
Casey says, "There have been state troopers that have seen it, there have been military that have seen it."
Which leads us to the campus of USC-Aiken and Doctor Gary Senn. He makes his living looking up. You can read more of what he has to say about all of this is part two of our Special Assignment Series: Night Lights.
Have you ever looked up at the stars and thought about what might be out there, beyond our own solar system? With all the advances in science, we're learning more about our universe all the time. But it's the unusual sightings in our own sky, these night lights, that really seem to capture our imagination.
Go to you tube and search for 2008 UFO sightings... And you'll see 32 thousand videos. You'll see UFO'S in the daytime. UFO'S at night, in cities and out in the country.
There's even a video from the space shuttle Atlantis. Something out there had NASA'S attention. You can hear the conversation between the crew and Mission Control.
"We do see that."
"Ok. That's looking out in front of the orbiter. You see two rings right 'there- they're the ones we had the late 'tally-ho' on."
Space junk? Or something else? Dr Gary Senn is the director of the DuPont Planetarium at USC-Aiken.
Dr.Senn: "Certainly, people are seeing objects. Most of them can be explained very easily, but I do understand there are some things out there we do have a hard time explaining- and that's my response. I don't have an explanation sometimes.
(News 12) "So have you ever seen anything you couldn't explain?"
"I have. I know when I was younger, I saw some kind of a light that appeared to rise up, hover for a while and then take off quickly in one direction."
(News 12 ) So what would capture your attention in a sighting?"
"Something that appeared to be moving in one direction in the sky and suddenly appear to move in another direction. I've heard a number of reports of those kinds of things and they're usually the ones that are unexplainable."
Which is a lot like what Kenny McGee and Casey Campbell say they saw on a busy stretch of Wrightsboro road. A series of lights that just appeared out of nowhere. No way it's a meteor.
"No there's 5 of 'em somewhat clustered and not in a pattern," Kenny told us. "We've got Daniel field airport down here- is that a plane? Could we be looking at an angle of a plane with the lights on the wing or something? Way too big."
Casey picks up the story.
"And it stayed lit maybe 6,7,8, seconds and then it blinked out. Then all the sudden it was over here but there was only 2 of 'em.
And before you jump to conclusions about Kenny and Casey, they are both ex-military and still skeptical about what they saw that night. Most people won't even go on camera like they did.
News 12 got an e-mail from a local businessman who saw the lights too. He even diagrammed the cluster for us, giving each light a number. His diagram matches Kenny and Casey's description very closely.
Back at the planetarium, Dr. Senn hears the stories all the time. He says better technology makes hoaxes more likely, but there's a flip side.
"With the number of people currently who have more sophisticated cameras- still cameras and video cameras, there are actually much fewer reports of UFO's than there were 30 and 40 years ago," Dr. Senn tells us.
And that same technology is showing us parts of our universe we've never seen before. The Hubble space telescope has been an eye opener.
Dr Senn explains- "What they did is they took Hubble and pointed it at an area that was kind of an empty area."
We're talking about an area about the size of a postage stamp if you held it up against the sky. They kept Hubble pointed there for about 10 days.
The picture contains about 15 hundred galaxies. Here's a link to see it for yourself.
Dr. Senn: "And when you see all these teeny points of light essentially, it really demonstrates how massive the universe is. It's really, I think almost mind boggling to understand how big the universe actually is.
It may be enough to make you wonder, how could we be ---- alone?