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Name: Pam S.
Status: educator
Age:  30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
Last spring I recovered a weather balloon from a field near my house. On Friday morning at 1 am I watched as a green light out of the northeast slowly descended toward the earth. Could this have been a weather balloon too? It seemed slower that a meterorite, and its light was bright green and very large.


Replies:
Dear Pam-

It is unlikely that the light you saw was associated with a weather balloon. Sometimes small lights are attached to the balloon when it is launched to aid in visual tracking to guide the automatic electronic tracking equipment to "lock-on" to the balloon transmitter signal. These lights are white, very similiar to a flashlight bulb, and not green. The time you saw the light would not be compatible with a weather balloon launch or descent. The balloons are routinely launched at midnight and noon, Greenwich Mean Time (about 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central Standard Time). It takes about 100 minutes for the balloons to reach their maximum altitude and burst, and probably another 20-30 minutes for the deflated balloon to fall back to the earth. That means the balloons should fall back to earth some 2-3 hours after they are launched, or between 8-9 a.m./p.m. central time.

There are probably other logical explanations for the light, such as a small plane moving away from your location. One of the wing lights is red, and the other is green. You might check with your local newspaper or police station, to see if others reported seeing the light also.

Wendell Bechtold


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