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What did I capture in these photos and how did it happen? This is straight from my camera without any edits or filters.

enter image description here

enter image description here

Hint 1:

If you zoom in on the first image you may see some clues to the origin of this object.

Hint 2:

These photos were taken at Byron Bay, Australia.

Hint 3:

See my comment about the closest answer so far.

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    $\begingroup$ See instagram.com/p/BDH1p3YFHZ7/?taken-by=babettebombshell $\endgroup$
    – Florian F
    Dec 29, 2023 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ It looks like swamp gas from a weather balloon may have gotten trapped in a thermal pocket, where it reflected the light from Venus. This is an entirely mundane and common event, and there's no reason anyone should bother trying to think up other interpretations. In fact, you can probably just close the question now. $\endgroup$
    – Ray
    Dec 29, 2023 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ @DmitryKamenetsky, are both photos taken near the same time of the same exact object? $\endgroup$
    – Stevish
    Dec 29, 2023 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ Also, were you able to clearly see the object with your eyes? Or is the photo the only evidence of it? $\endgroup$
    – Stevish
    Dec 29, 2023 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ Both photos were taken within a few minutes of each other of the same object, but from slightly different angles. $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2023 at 20:57

10 Answers 10

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Could it be

oscillations of the fresnel lens on the mercury bath?

Let me explain. Reading a bit more about the lighthouse, this part was interesting:

The lens now in use is the original 1st-order bivalve Henry-LePaute Fresnel lens. The 2-metre (6 ft 7 in) diameter lens,[10] weighing 8 tonnes (7.9 long tons; 8.8 short tons), contains 760 pieces of highly polished prismatic glass,[5] floating in a 7 long hundredweight (356 kg; 784 lb) float bath of mercury.[9] It was the first lighthouse in Australia with a mercury float mechanism.[3]

The photo is a

Long exposure or astrophotography mode picture, because otherwise you wouldn't have gotten all those stars.

The straight lines and curves are due to

Oscillating light from the lighthouse getting projected on fog near the sea. Light oscillates because of the fresnel lens floating on the mercury bath, possibly moving due to vibrations in the rotation machinery or due to some microearthquakes.

Or did I physics this too much? :D

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  • $\begingroup$ Congratulations you got it! $\endgroup$ Dec 31, 2023 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ Rot13(Nf lbh pbeerpgyl fgngrq, gur vzntrf fubj gur yvtug sebz gur yvtugubhfr cebwrpgrq bagb gur sbt nobir gur frn. Gur yvtug vf ebgngvat pybpxjvfr bapr rirel 15 frpbaqf. Gur cubgbf jrer gnxra jvgu n 3-4 frpbaq rkcbfher gvzr, juvpu cebqhprf n juvgr fgenvtug yvar fgernx. Abj V pbhyqa'g rkcynva gur bfpvyyngvbaf zlfrys, ohg V guvax lbhe rkcynangvba znxrf frafr.) $\endgroup$ Dec 31, 2023 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ Rot13(Gurer jrer ab bgure bowrpgf yvxr oveqf, svfuvat yvarf, uryvpbcgref, neebjf rgp.) $\endgroup$ Dec 31, 2023 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ This is uncannily similar to the "swamp gas reflecting the light of Venus" answer. $\endgroup$ Jan 1 at 4:11
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It's got to be:

A bird, flying left ot right. The streak is because the darkness caused the camera to use a long exposure time. The swervy parts are the wings, and the motion of the central brighter blur (which would be the bird's body) even veers up a little while the wings come down.

Also, at the bottom of the wings' strokes, you can make out two distinct streaks that, given their angle and relation to each other, appear to be the tips of each wing: one closer to the camera, the other on the far side.

As to why it's glowing like that, I'm less sure. My best guess is...

that there's a constant light source off to the right, possibly behind or above the camera, which is lighting up the sand nearby, and also lights up the bird. It's not the camera's flash because the shadows shoot off to the left, and cameras don't usually use flashes in conjunction with a long enough exposure to create that long of a streak.

It would need to be a smallish, light colored bird, probably moving very quickly across the frame. I deduce this from multiple data points: the length of the streak is way way longer than any blur made by the waves, so it has to be moving quickly. Also, to be that bright, it needs to be fully inside the bubble of light created by the light source, and that bubble only appears to go out 20-30 feet on the sand. The closer it is to the camera, the slower it could move, but if we get it down to insect size, like a moth, each wing beat would have more of an effect on the altitude than what we see.

So, yeah, it's got to be a white bird flying quickly across the frame, between 10 and 30 feet away from the camera.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good attempt, but it's not what I captured. Doesn't explain the long straight line. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ @DmitryKamenetsky: Well, if you look closely, the line is NOT straight, but slightly wavy: Its right half is visibly higher than its left half, and both halves are slightly inclined towards the lower right—though the right half does so only after a short bit. This is in line with Stevish’s explanation, as the bird would be flapping its wings where the line starts going down. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ Great answer!!! $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Dec 29, 2023 at 6:28
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    $\begingroup$ @DmitryKamenetsky I did explain the "straight" line in my answer. But you were the one who was there taking the photo, so I'll take your word that it wasn't what I thought it was $\endgroup$
    – Stevish
    Dec 29, 2023 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ I’m not a photographer and have no clue about this, but a quick question about that answer: Could these unedited pictures have been made using a long exposure time, given that the waves and water lines in the first picture are so sharp? $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Dec 31, 2023 at 8:51
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A vibrating overhead wire, that was lit (lighted?) by a flashlight. The sinusoidal pattern is the standing wave that was formed on the wire. The exposure caught the wire once it stopped moving, hence the brighter straight line.

We only see a part of it as this is the part that was exposed by the beam.

Now, what a wire would be linked to, in the ocean, I do not know.

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Maybe it's a...

coast guard helicopter. It makes sense given the pictures were taken on the coast. The straight line is caused by the strong light of the vehicle, like in this photo: The waveness is probably due to reflections from the rotor or the Kopp-Etchells effect (which fits nicely the sandy and night conditions). Zooming in on the first image, I make out this in the distance: The shape of which, looks similar to this:

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I think @Jeffery's answer is essentially correct with perhaps two adjustments:

1. The illumination source is not a flashlight but the distant lighthouse/beacon on the hillside.

2. It's not a wire but a fishing line.

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    $\begingroup$ This is the closest answer so far! $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2023 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ @DmitryKamenetsky here's a problem I have with the alleged light source: I think at that distance dispersion should cause the visible object's ends to blend smoothly with the darkness, instead here there is virtually no fading. $\endgroup$ Dec 31, 2023 at 17:56
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Is it a

kite illuminated by the lighthouse?

The photo is a

Long exposure, judging by the amount of stars you have got in the picture, that you won't typically get in a phone camera.

And since you shot the photo at night,

The prominent wind is a land breeze and the kite is flying toward the sea.

The straight lines and the curves are

Typical trajectories of a kite tied to a point on the ground.

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It's a paper airplane.

The length and blur is caused by the camera shutter speed. The glow is from the camera flash reflecting off it.

The second photo shows the tip of the plane on the left of the blur trail and the wing on the right end of the blur trail. The plane is traveling from right to left.

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Neat shot.

I'm pretty sure this is a segment of a

Rocket launch arch or second-stage rocket engine burn. If I want to play statistics, it's probably a SpaceX Falcon 9.

The "Feathering" looks remarkably like that commonly seen in these types of shots:

Launch Arch

The "Segmented" appearance is probably

The path of the rocket where it flew so high that it passed back into "day", or it could be the duration of the second-stage engine burn.

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I think it is a sheet, flapping in the wind, and caught on a wire.

I also note that there is significant directed illumination in the immediate area (shadows of the rocks on the ground), and that it isn't a long exposure (the waves aren't blurred). This tells me there was something there to photograph.

What I'm not really sure of is if it is a bedsheet or a sheet of some kind of white or clear plastic.

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Is it a...

"Flying saucer"?

The second image...

Shows the bottom of the saucer or plate enter image description here

The first image...

Shows the pattern on the top of the saucer. Either Medusa and centipede or fisherman and boat (couldn't find an image of the plate) 1st image zoomed in enter image description here Medusa and centipede enter image description here Or fisherman and boat enter image description here

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