Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mystery rocket off California is just a jet contrail

"Pentagon can't explain apparent mystery rocket off California coast

The Pentagon is unable to explain images of what appears to be a high-altitude rocket launched off the coast of southern California at sunset Monday, officials said."

At what point do we realize that the public is willfully, dangerously incompetent when it comes to science? It is sad when people are unable to recognize an airplane contrail, because that means they hardly ever look up. And when they do, they have no science tool kit, no ideas about skeptical inquiry, and they usually misunderstand what they see.

Sometimes, sadly, the experts on topics like this also have very little practical knowledge. That is why rocket and aviation experts can look at an obvious contrail and say "It is spectacular, it is a really large missile." Also, for the record, a ballistic missile HAS been launched over the pacific. Indeed the only live American test was a Polaris missile in operation Dominic, out over the Pacific. How can I know this off hand and an expert on TV doesn't? Next time call just about anyone from the NAR and ask them about this object. Save the time.

Read more here:
The Rocketry Blog
The Rocket Dungeon
The Danger Room
New Scientist

People could really benefit from taking some kind of skeptic lessons, or visiting snopes.com, or maybe just getting a pair of binoculars and looking at the sky a few times BEFORE jumping to wild conclusions about it. Learn it, then talk about it.

Even The Rocketry Planet is in on the frenzy.

Why am I so confident in my statement that this is a jet and contrail? After all, I was not there in person and don't even have a good copy of the video! Well here is why: THE SAME THING HAPPENED LAST YEAR. And then the SAME DUMB PEOPLE JUMPED TO THE SAME CONCLUSIONS.

Look familiar?

*Update: Fox news gets the real story!


FrighteningFred said...

jet contrail.. If you see the whole video there is an orange light at the head of the contrail. not a reflection but more like an afterburner. Military says no planes in the area so... I do not think it is from a plane

R2K said...

It is a reflection from the sun. How many jets have you watched fly during sunset? They look like this sometimes. I do it often, and suggest that anyone try it first, then tell us about it later! :)