Investigation of October 10, 2008 UFO Photographs

by Martin Jasek, UFOBC

Analysis of the Surrey, October 10,2008 4:30 pm images

This series of photographs provided a good opportunity for analysis for several reasons.

1. There were many photographs of the object, 17 in total. (Images #79 to #96)
2. There were plenty of foreground objects in most of the images
3. The photographer remained stationary while taking the photographs from a parked vehicle out of his driver-side window

This allowed the tracing of the path of the object through the sky using the wires as reference points. Each photograph was identified with a date and time of the photograph to the nearest second. This allowed for the determination of the angular speed of the object.

Figure 1 shows a photograph taken several months later that was used to provide a reference for the trajectory determined from the individual UFO images. Trajectory points from images 79 to 87 could be determined relatively accurately since small visible imperfections in the wires could be used to determine both the x and y coordinates along the wires. Although wires were visible in images 88 to 92 only the location of the UFO in the relative perpendicular direction from the wires could be determined. This was because in real space (i.e. not in the images) the six wires are parallel. The blue lines were drawn in Figure 1 to give a line of possible locations of the UFO in images 88 to 92.

Figure 1. Photograph taken several months later that was used to provide a reference for the trajectory determined from the individual UFO images.

It is notable in Figure 1 that the reliable points 79 to 87 shown as red dotes are along a straight line. If one extrapolates this line to cross the possible UFO location lines from images 88 to 97 one can obtain hypothesized UFO locations for the latter images (larger blue dotes) with the assumption that the UFO continued to travel along this straight line. Although this is only an assumption at this point in the analysis, we can look at the time that each image was taken to determine if angular velocity (degrees of sky per second) remained constant or if the object accelerated or decelerated between any sets of images.

Figure 2a and b show the cumulative arc and elapsed time respectively. Generally, it appears that the longer the elapsed time between the photos the greater the arc traveled. There are some discrepancies but these can be explained by time rounding error to the nearest second, scaling errors from the photograph, and scale distortion in different parts of the frame from the lens projection.

Figure 2a. Arc (degrees) in sky traveled between photographs. b) Elapsed time from first photograph.

Figure 3 shows the arc traveled versus time for both the deterministic and extrapolated trajectory. One can conclude from this plot that the object changed little in velocity and direction from Image #79 to Image #92 provided that the extrapolated portion of the trajectory is correct. The angular velocity of the object may have slowed down, which is indicated by gradual decrease in slope of the curve with time. This would be consistent with an object travelling at a constant velocity and moving further and further away from the the witness. It would have been extremely coincidental that an object would have changed both direction and speed at the precise time that reference points along the wires in the images were no longer available. Therefore the blue trajectory (Blue points in Figure 1) shows the most probable trajectory that followed the red trajectory in the same figure.

Figure 3. Arc traveled versus time for determined and extrapolated trajectory.

The slope between the points in Figure 3 establishes angular velocity (degrees per second) of the object movement between images. Allowing for measurement error it appears this velocity is a smooth and slightly curved function consistent with an object traveling through the sky in a straight line. One can calculate the object's velocity or speed from its angular velocity if one knows the distance to the object. We do not know the distance to the object but we can come up with a relationship with what speeds would be associated with what distances. Let's assume the distance is 1 kilometre, from that the speed calculates to be 8 m/s or 28 km/hr (Images 90 to 92) to 13 m/s or 46 km/hr (Images 79 to 82). If the object was 10 km away it would have been traveling 280 to 460 km/hr, and if it was 500 metres away it would have been traveling 14 to 23 km/hr.

Figure 4 shows cropped and enlarged portions of the 17 images. The images were enlarged by 800% but the original pixel colours and edges were maintained. The small insets (bordered by pink) are the original 100% resolution versions. The first three images depict the UFO much smaller since these three photos were not zoomed in (1X). A zoom level change occurred with Frame#82 and #90, 3.53X and 4.8X respectively. All zoom levels were within the optical zoom range of the camera.

#79, Zoom Level = 1x, 4:24:07 pm.   #80, Zoom Level = 1x, 4:24:10 pm.   #81, Zoom Level = 1x, 4:24:14 pm.
#82, Zoom Level = 3.53x, 4:24:23 pm.   #83, Zoom Level = 3.53x, 4:24:26 pm.   #84, Zoom Level = 3.53x, 4:24:31 pm.
#85, Zoom Level = 3.53x, 4:24:35 pm.   #86, Zoom Level = 3.53x, 4:24:39 pm.   #87, Zoom Level = 3.53x, 4:24:49 pm.
#88, Zoom Level = 3.53x, 4:24:53 pm.   #89, Zoom Level = 3.53x, 4:25:02 pm.   #90, Zoom Level = 4.80x, 4:25:08 pm.
#91, Zoom Level = 4.80x, 4:25:16 pm.   #92, Zoom Level = 4.80x, 4:25:21 pm.   #93, Zoom Level = 4.80x, 4:25:27 pm.
  This image # was a video clip but the resolution was too low to make out the object  
#94, Zoom Level = 4.80x, 4:25:33 pm.   #95   #96, Zoom Level = 4.80x, 4:26:27

Figure 4. Magnified and cropped UFO images (by 800%), with the original pixel colours maintained.

Images 82 to 92 in Figure 4 show that the UFO had a bright coloured or reflective area. However, this area did not appear to be consistently located on the UFO. For example, in Frame#90 the brighter area is on the upper left, in Frame#91 it is on the left, in Frame#92 it is on the upper left once again. This shows that the object may had been tumbling or wobbling as it flew through the sky and also that it was not perfectly round and had a preferentially reflective axis.

There is a sharp decrease in sharpness and contrast of the object starting with Frame# 93 in Figure 4. This does not appear to be a product of the object distance but something to do with the camera since the wire in Frames #92 and #93 also shows this same change in sharpness and contrast (Figure 5). It appears that perhaps that the camera was having difficulty auto-focusing on the object for Frames #93, 94, and 96 (#95 was a movie file) since there were no other substantial objects in the central portion of the photograph for the camera to focus on. The wire in Frame#93 was in the lower left hand corner so the camera would have excluded it as a subject for the auto-focus.


Wire in #92, Zoom Level = 4.8x   Wire in #93, Zoom Level = 4.8x

Figure 5. Change in sharpness and contrast from Frame #92 to #93 is evident in the wire as well as in the UFO in Figure 4.

Next, one can examine the size of the UFO in the images. The focal length of each image was recorded with the image information.

From the focal length, the zoom levels (noted in Figure 4) could be determined by dividing the focal length of each image by the focal length of the first image that was taken at 1 X zoom. This zoom level is denoted as "Z".

Next the number of pixels "P" could be counted that established the width of the UFO in each image.

In Frame#79 (which had a zoom level of 1) the degrees of objects were measured in the field with an inclinometer. It was established that the 1X zoom images exhibited 0.0149 degrees per pixel "Dp".

The angular size "AS" of the object in each Image could thus be determined by:

AS = Dp x Z x P

Figure 6 shows the angular size of the object as a function of the amount of time elapsed from the time of the first photograph was taken. This shows that the object got smaller and smaller at a constant rate.

Figure 6. Angular size of the object as it changed with elapsed time.

What about the object's actual size? That cannot be determined with certainty since we do not know the distance to the object. However we can calculate a size for the object if we assume a distance to the object. Let's assume it is once again 1 km. An angular size for an object that takes up 0.045 degrees the size of the object calculates out to be:

Size = 0.045 degrees x 1000 m x PI/180 degrees   (PI = 3.142), or 0.79 metres. If the object was 10 km away it would have been 7.9 metres wide. If it was 500 m away it would have been 0.39 metres (1.3 feet) in wide.

Weather and Wind Direction
Meteorological conditions were obtained from Environment Canada. The nearest weather station at the Vancouver Airport (22 km away) indicated that the winds were out of the West Northwest that afternoon. These wind speed measured at 10 metres above ground levels were recorded to be between 13 and 26 km/hr that afternoon. Generally winds increase with elevation and decrease with ground roughness (houses, larger buildings, trees, airports all have a different roughness). The following website provides a tool how to calculate wind speeds at higher elevations if measured at 10 metres for various ground roughnesses. It appears from this website that a wind measured at an airport at 10 metres (roughness = 0.5) is about equivalent to a wind speed at 150 metres above the ground over an urban area (roughness = 3). So we can surmise the the wind speed was somewhere between 13 and 26 km/hr. From earlier in the analysis the object would have had to have been about 500 metres away and would have been about 0.4 m wide to fit the criteria.

The direction that the photographs were taken was North Northeast. The object trajectory as presented by the series of photographs was left to right in these images which is consistent with the wind direction measured at the Vancouver Airport.

Due to the relatively small angular size of the object in the photographs (up to to 11 pixels), it is impossible to conclusively determine what this object was. The object was however consistent with a small object (0.4 m) rising slowly and moving in a direction and speed that was consistent with the local meteorological conditions at the time provided it was 500 to perhaps as much as 1000 metres away. Its trajectory and direction appeared to be constant from Image to Image.

If the object was much further away than a 1000 metres (say several kilometres), it would have been inconsistent with a free floating/rising object floating along with the wind speed and direction and would have been something unconventional.