A San Diego-based UFO researcher named Ed Grimsley captured what one writer called "multiple unidentified flying objects" that were "saucer-shaped [and] appeared to hover in the sky and change direction before moving out of sight." The video was taken April 30 with Grimsley's organization, Skywatch.
To the trained eye, however, this video appears to show something much more banal than a UFO battle. [Click here for video]
According to his website, Grimsley "has been seeing battles between unknown aircraft in the night skies since he was a teenager," including two different types of spacecraft "shooting it out using what appear to be laser weapons." Furthermore, "he has seen hundreds of these objects recently and using his five Military grade night vision binoculars he has invited many people to come to his areas and view the objects in earth space shooting it out."
Grimsley believes that "alien or human-like beings may very well be getting ready to take control or evict us from plant Earth," and has made it his mission to "show people what is happening in earth space all the time. I want people to start looking through night vision binoculars and see the battles tasking [sic] place between aircraft including saucer shaped objects." [Could Extraterrestrials Really Invade Earth?]
So what about the strange UFO lights that Grimsley and his followers are seeing? Contrary to the account above, the UFOs in the video do not appear "saucer-shaped" at all, but rather look like simple points of light in the night sky.
Robert Sheaffer, a UFO investigator with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, told Life's Little Mysteries that Grimsley's videos show nothing extraordinary. In fact, the objects are most likely artifacts of the very tool that Grimsley uses to spot UFOs.
"Night vision optics trade low resolution for high sensitivity, and bright objects spill out into a circle of light that in no way reflects their actual angular size. So what looks like a large object may well just be a point of light," Sheaffer said.
"Many of the objects they're seeing are birds or bats, or faint satellites in earth orbit," he continued. "There's nothing in the sky that a night vision device can see that a person can't see with 10 x 50 binoculars—and with much better detail. So their belief that they're seeing entire fleets of UFOs up in the sky simply means that they don't understand how these devices work, and what they're seeing."
Indeed, the low video quality virtually guarantees that a wide variety of normal things (including bugs, planes, helicopters, meteors and satellites) will appear as UFOs; some of the lights seen in the video are obviously dust and debris on the camera lens. If Grimsley is correct, and spaceships are really engaging in battles with lasers in the night sky above San Diego, it's odd that no astronomers or pilots have mentioned it.
Coincidentally, Grimsley makes money selling night vision goggles through which UFO buffs can view these exciting Star Wars-type space battles. He offers models ranging from $1,800 to $3,200; if this is a bit too pricey for you, he offers a DVD of the UFOs for $24.95 including shipping. You can join his Skywatch UFO vigils for $40 per person. Grimsley is raising money for his other pursuits, including developing a revolutionary vehicle engine that he claims will result in cars getting 100 miles per gallon -- of water.
Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. His Web site is www.RadfordBooks.com.
This story was provided by Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.