This article was published in the daily newspaper Cadillac News, of Wexford, Missaukee, Osceola and eastern Lake counties, on May 9, 2004.
Unidentified flying planet?
By Matt Whetstone, Staff Writer
CADILLAC - Donna Billett of Harrietta saw the backyard and field behind her house light up like she had never before - considering it was nearly midnight and it was pitch black outside.
"I was so shocked when I saw it out the bathroom window I just stood there in awe for five minutes," Billett said when the object appeared Sunday.
The moon was not responsible for the unexplained light, even though it shone brightly in the clear sky. Instead, Billett saw another bright object in the northwest sky.
Billett's son Allan McIlvain quickly came out of the house and recorded the object for about 30 minutes before it finally left their sight. He said it moved at a very fast pace.
The object bounced and weaved as McIlvain attempted to film it, zooming in and out. Neither had an explanation at the time.
"I thought it was lightning at first," Billett said. "It was like flipping on a light switch - the whole sky was bright."
McIlvain said he has a different explanation.
"I think it was a spaceship," he said.
Both believed the object to be pulsing, reflecting light toward the ground.
David Batch, professor at the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University, said the object may have been the planet Venus.
"Venus is probably the most mistaken object for a UFO," Batch said. "It really attracts people's attention right now because it is so bright."
Batch said there is an old story that former president Jimmy Carter once reported Venus as a UFO in his younger days.
Like the object seen in Harrietta, Batch said Venus is capable of changing shapes and colors during the night and is capable of leaving the sight of viewers depending on weather conditions.
In a camera, Batch said it would tend to be overexposed making it appear to look different.
Batch did rule out the possibility of a comet sightings because it would be nearly impossible to get video footage as it would be too faint.
Note: the report is not precise enough to allow speculation on some certain explanation, and Vénus would vertainly not lit up your backyard or resemble lightning. But if you do not believe that Venus can be very strange when videotaped, check my investigation here.