THE FINAL FRONTIER: USQ astronomer and astrobiologist Professor Jonti Horner is searching for new planets. INSET: Plume from the SpaceX launch over Los Angeles in 2017.
THE FINAL FRONTIER: USQ astronomer and astrobiologist Professor Jonti Horner is searching for new planets. INSET: Plume from the SpaceX launch over Los Angeles in 2017. Contributed

Why Toowoomba reports UFO sightings

THERE are numerous explanations why Toowoomba residents could report UFO sightings.

University of Southern Queensland Professor Jonti Horner said from phenomena like Venus appearing in the night sky, to satellites passing over the earth at specific moments, UFOs generally had a scientific explanation.

"UFO doesn't mean alien," Prof Horner said. "It's just an unidentified object up in the sky.

"Most are natural phenomena or satellites people aren't used to looking for."

Prof Horner said Venus was behind a number of reported UFO sightings in the past six months.

"When Venus is low in the sky it is so much brighter than other stars. It doesn't twinkle or shimmer and appears to be hovering only a few kilometres up," he said.

 

Plume from SpaceX Launch of Iridium-4 Falcon 9 Flight 46.
Plume from SpaceX Launch of Iridium-4 Falcon 9 Flight 46. Kevin Gill/Wikimedia

"You'd expect as you move towards it the position in the sky would move. But Venus doesn't as it's just on the setting sky. So it appears like a hovering white light that flies away from you."

Prof Horner said other things mistaken for a UFO included the launch of SpaceX rocket in November last year, which created a visual spectacular as light from the setting sun hit the launch.

As for alien life itself, Prof Horner said there was a large amount of research happening around the world on whether other planets and moons both in and out of our solar system had the potential to support life.

He said teams of scientists were also analysing vast amounts of data to see whether any intelligent life had tried to contact us, but they had no luck so far.

Hear more from Prof Horner in The Chronicle Weekly podcast on Thursday.



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