Cover Photo: Artist’s rendering of what the UFO over Hagerstown might have looked like.
HAGERSTOWN, MD News (1/12/2023) – On Wednesday, January 4th, 2023, witnesses reported to the site UFOStalker that a triangle shaped formation of lights was spotted over Hagerstown at approximately 11:30 pm. Was this a craft of extra-terrestrial origin, or is there another possible explanation? Hagerstown was previously investigated by the FBI for UFO sightings, in part due to its proximity to Washington, DC.
What could have caused the appearance of what was believed to be a UFO in the night sky on January 4th?
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Possible alternative explanations for a UFO sighting of lights in the sky include:
- Natural phenomena such as meteorites, aurorae, or ball lightning
- Astronomical objects such as planets, stars, or satellites
- Man-made objects such as airplanes, helicopters, drones, or flares
- Optical illusions or misperceptions of familiar objects
- Hoaxes or pranks.
To better understand what could and could not have played a factor in a possible UFO sighting, first we need to look at the weather.
According to Weather Underground, on January 4th between 10:53 and 11:53 PM, the weather was cloudy, but not raining, with humidity between 89% and 93%. While this eliminates most astronomical objects from being mistaken for a UFO, and there were no weather events which would cause lightning, this does open the possibility of airplanes being more likely mistaken for a UFO.
High humidity can cause light from overhead airplanes to appear distorted or scattered. This is due to the presence of water vapor in the air, which can refract or bend the light as it passes through. This can cause the light to appear to be coming from a different direction or to be split into multiple images. Additionally, the water vapor in the air can scatter the light, causing it to appear dimmer or to take on a hazy appearance. This can make it more difficult to see the airplane or to determine its altitude. Hagerstown is near not only Hagerstown Regional Airport, but also close to the West Virginia Air National Guard 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, WV, both of which have regular flights of aircraft for testing purposes and pilot flight hour requirements, increasing the possibility that this was simply an airplane, possibly one landing or taking off. We feel this is very possible, especially when looking at security camera footage of the Hagerstown Skate Park at that time. The high humidity is absolutely causing some interesting lighting effects, but we don’t see any evidence of UFOs.
It’s also possible that this was part of a small localized meteor shower. There are multiple reports of a large fireball in the sky several hours earlier from the West Virginia Panhandle all the way to western Illinois. If this fireball was part of several pieces of space debris in the path of the Earth, it’s very possible that smaller pieces could have been seen locally in Hagerstown as they burned up in the atmosphere.
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Finally, there’s always the possibility that this “UFO” was a hoax by a neighbor. As drones become cheaper and more available, it’s easy to play pranks on neighbors and make them think space aliens are invading.
Reaching out to local government, Wes Decker with the City of Hagerstown confirmed they had not received any reports regarding a UFO on that date. This means that likely the number of witnesses was very low, and not enough that the City would be notified of the sighting.
Washington County Government did not immediately respond to inquiries regarding the UFO sighting.
In conclusion, we believe that the UFO sighting on January 4th was most likely the result of humidity and a low-flying airplane. At this time, no extraterrestrials seem interested in what we’re doing here in Hagerstown, and that’s probably for the best.
Article by multiple RFHC Staff.
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