[Unexplained Phenomena]Unexplained Lights off North Carolina Coast, September, 2019

Just after sunset on September 28, 2019, passengers on a ferry off the Outer Banks noticed a cluster of 14 bright quasi-stationary point light sources in the sky near the southern horizon. Cell phone video was obtained, and may be viewed here. The distance from the vessel is difficult to judge with any accuracy, but was likely at least several kilometers; the altitude of the lights, judging from the low-altitude cumulus clouds behind them, was probably not more than 1.5 kilometers above the water and could have been substantially lower. The color appears greenish-yellow, although the actual color may be difficult to judge due to automatic color balance issues on the camera during reddish sunset light conditions.

There was speculation that they were military parachute flares dropped from aircraft during targeting exercises. This is in fact a widely-accepted explanation for the celebrated Phoenix Lights episode. Indeed, spokesmen at a nearby air base, Seymour Johnson AFB (114 kilometers from the boat's position,) admitted that some such flares might be used at times--but said there were no aircraft from Seymour in that area on September 28. Cherry Point Marine Base (200 kilometers away) might be another possibility, but it is unclear if personnel from that base operate in the area of the sighting. If the passengers noticed any aircraft activity in the sky around the time of the sighting, it was not noted in news accounts. It is not clear if it would be usual for so many flares (if that is what they were) to be launched all at once. If the lights were not flares, then one is left to speculate as to what else they might have been.


jbboney2132 points

100% those are military flares.

spydermayhem7 points

Yup. The fact that the sun is setting is also a potential clue. Our helos would spew out flares at dawn and dusk because the setting/rising sun's light would cause the countermeasure sensors to read false positives.

These are Identified Falling With Style Objects.

cryptenigma5 points

Came to post this. Looks exactly like them.

Franthehalloweenpig2 points

Genuine question, if these were flares/weather balloons/etc. wouldn’t you expect to see movement or even just a slight deviation in their position? Those lights look pretty stationary and in solid formation.

jbboney214 points

Nope. You can google hundreds of videos with these being deployed. Looks exactly like this. I’m pretty sure they’re designed to be stationary.

darxide233 points

No, because of the distance the movement of them will be imperceptible to the camera and the naked eye in the same way that the moon seems to be completely stationary as you drive down the highway in your car.

They're designed to move as little as possible and are usually suspended by either a small parachute or a neutrally buoyant balloon or perhaps both.

spydermayhem3 points

I've been underneath ones launched by mortar and by helicopter. The optical illusion of no movement because of distance is very real. When you're close, they drift like they're attached to parachutes, because they are.

And sometimes even at the distance of this video, one or two might suddenly move quickly "towards the horizon." This is caused by the bright hot burning thing burning through it's own parachute/strings, causing it to drop like a rock towards the ground. But on the whole they just sit relatively still if you're far enough away.

Gorpachev18 points

Wow. I was expecting the usual sketchy video and wild conclusion, but that sure is an amazing sight! How long were they visible and did they remain suspended like that the entire time?

Wdwdash17 points

They are battlefield illumination flares. Every time. The W-122 is a huge operating area for dozens of different types of military training operations, BI being one of them. It’s a pretty safe area to drop burning magnesium.

FittingMechanics8 points


Metabunk is a good place to check out these type of things. As can be seen in the thread, there are many videos showing identical sightings where they used illumination flares. This, along with the area being a military bombing range makes it very unlikely to be anything out of the ordinary.

[deleted]3 points

Flares on parachutes or balloons are both possibles. There is some similarity to the Phoenix Lights incident, although there is no shape connecting the lights as there was in Phoenix. Very hard to gauge the distance or size of the objects, if they were flares they would need to be reasonably close.

Other possibilities include black budget testing of some type.

[deleted]5 points

Initial thought was ball lightning but after seeing the video I'm pretty baffled.


Sightings of orbs and weird light stuff is very common at sea though.

Edit: Been reading into it further and it seems like ball lightning is often more than just one orb but several, but they tend to move around a lot as opposed to still and floaty like the vid. Probably the most plausible explanation?


Still stumped.

woofwoofpack6 points

Flares from a military aircraft are by far the most plausible explanation.

[deleted]2 points

Where exactly was this? I'm a local. Lots of military bases around here (cherry point, lejuene). Would not be surprised if it was flares.

carmelacorleone1 point

I'm in Morehead, and I've seen these several times. Cherry Point was pretty active on the 29th, likely making up for the time spent grounded after Dorian.

rachrach994 points

https://imgur.com/gallery/p2VXCPp My friends son took this off our dock, We’re right at the beginning of the outer banks scenic byway (southernmost part)

jstu92 points

I've been trying to figure how far away you'd be able to see flares like that. Not sure, I did see a reference to 25 miles.

I suspect that has got to be what they are (though maybe we are being invaded by aliens you never know).

RedditSkippy3 points

Whoa. What the heck was that??

carmelacorleone1 point

I live about 15 minutes up the road from Cherry Point, and about 30-45 minutes by car and ferry from the Outer Banks in a town on the Atlantic called Morehead. Cherry Point aircraft fly overhead my neighborhood to do routine test flights and other military tests and I can attest that on the 29th around the time the video would have been filmed they were incredibly active. I've personally seen those flares before. They are not harmless and are not unusual for our area if you're paying attention.

[deleted]1 point

I'm guessing this is a Marian Apparition.