I was camping recently (May 2014), and observed several shooting stars (very fast, short lived), a few satellites (very slow, long lived) and lots of aircraft (flashing lights) in the night sky.

All of the shooting stars appeared normal, as very fast streaks across the sky, which disappeared within a fraction of a second. All except one. One started fairly straight as normal, then took a completely unexpected wavy path (like releasing a balloon to fly around the room) towards the end of its flight. Then it winked out. What caused this?

Note, I was completely sober at the time, the sky was clear, and I believe this could not have been an aircraft or satellite because of its tremendous speed. Apart from this 'meteor', there was nothing else in the sky which could be interpreted as a firework.

Could this really have been a meteor, and what could have made it take this path? If not a meteor, what else could it have been?

(Note: I have tagged this 'UFO' because I'm not sure I can identify this object, not because I think it's an alien space craft).

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    $\begingroup$ Googled "wavy meteor" and got this: meteorobs.org/bagnall/curved.htm $\endgroup$ – HopDavid May 27 '14 at 23:37
  • $\begingroup$ @HopDavid - I saw that too, but there was no reasonable explanation for what I saw, only something about meteors bouncing back out, which would only be a single bend. $\endgroup$ – Rocketmagnet May 28 '14 at 8:10
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    $\begingroup$ You don't need to make that clarification, a UFO does not (in any way) make reference to alien space crafts, it clearly means Unidentified Flying Object. If you would think it was an alien spacecraft then you wouldn't be calling it a UFO. $\endgroup$ – harogaston May 30 '14 at 3:58
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    $\begingroup$ Did the wavy meteor also last only fractions of a second? I guess it could've fragmented and created a spray which just appeared wavy as each fragment got bright in turn, and you instinctively connected the dots to a wave during that fraction of a second. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff May 30 '14 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff - Perhaps. I can't say for sure that it wasn't that. But it certainly seemed like a single object moving in a wavy trajectory. The whole event lasted about as long as any other shooting star; less than a second. $\endgroup$ – Rocketmagnet May 30 '14 at 9:13

I saw a zig zag meteorite in Bukuru, Northern Nigeria, when I was about 13 in 1959. That started from small to increasing swings, then went out near the horizon. For many years I puzzled about this, but rarely mentioned it, because no one would believe it. Years later I attended an astronomy lecture at collage in London. I cornered the astronomer with this sighting and he said we know what this is. A flat dish shaped meteorite enters the atmosphere shallowly & flies in a circular motion that gets wider as it approaches the earth then extinguishes. Seeing this from the horizon, it appears to zigzag down. He told me that I was very very lucky to witness this meteor show, and I am glad that others have seen it too. Adios, UFO folks.


This could be related to skipping stones on a pond/lake, the angle at which the meteor enters the atmosphere. Depending on the densities of the atmospheric layers a meteor could give rise to such a phenomenon. Of course there are meteors that get deflected at the first encounter with the atmosphere if they arrive at the correct angle as do the stones that skip.


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protected by Mike G May 25 at 12:24

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