Ben was asked by the Huffington Post to weigh in on a possible mass UFO sighting event over Houston on August 11th during a powerful electrical storm. One You Tube user posted a video from his cell phone camera of a series of lights which appear and disappear in the clouds, at times making circular patterns. Unconfirmed at this time whether it's linked to the same event, a few Twitter and Instagram posts appeared the next day showing a circular object with whitish lights and a blue light in the
'Space City' Houston UFOs Look For An Explanation
Posted: 08/28/2014 9:53 am EDT Updated: 3 hours ago
When UFOs fly over a metropolitan area known as "Space City," it's safe to assume explanations for the sightings also will fly.
During an Aug. 11 rain storm in Houston, some odd lights were photographed above the city that's home to the Johnson Space Center, headquarters of NASA's Mission Control. Groups of aerial lights were seen maneuvering and changing their configurations in the sky, while others were photographed in a distinct circular pattern.
Watch this KPRC News report about the Houston UFO sightings.
On his YouTube channel, Andrew Peña describes how he came to shoot his video of the lights over Houston:
This is the video I took at 60fps trying to film a lightning storm. I was driving, so I was just pointing the camera towards the sky and see what I got after.
After 30 sec., I reviewed the footage and thought I was seeing "Ball-lightning" and then looked right out my window to catch the lights myself!! The lights (that I saw with my own eyes) were tracing and streaking left and right and in half-circles!!
Absolutely crazy rad stuff!!
Watch Andrew Peña's video below.
Here's an eight-image sequence of how the aerial lights changed their configuration in Peña's video:
"Part of the problem is that once the first images and video of the circular object hit the Web, additional videos of completely different lights in the sky were also submitted," image and video analyst Marc Dantonio told HuffPost in an email. "These submissions generated lots of confusion and the news media combined them into one general sighting, which was an incorrect thing to do."
Dantonio, chief photo and video analyst for the Mutual UFO Network, believes the news media was "responsible for creating a narrative that did not exist."
"Those random lights in the windshield seem to be blinking in and out and perhaps slightly moving against each other," he said. "My examination of those particular lights shows that these were likely distant lights, perhaps from a mall or other area with elevated lighting, relative to the driver and reflected in the window.
"Because they were distant lights, they will appear to remain in the same relative position for a longer time when compared to other lights much closer to the vehicle that do move through the field of view."
Dantonio adds that in examining the Peña video, he identified a cluster of bright mercury vapor lamps that caused a secondary reflection -- a set of reflected lights eclipsed by trees passing by.
But what about those pictures that depict a circular pattern of lights in the sky at different locations around Houston? (See below)
"One of the most intriguing aspects of the case is that a series of still photos began appearing on the Internet the next day from different Instagram and Twitter users," said former FBI Special Agent Ben Hansen, who was also the lead investigator of the Syfy Channel's "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files" series. "Allegedly, the photos were taken by different people from different parts of the city."
"The nature of social media makes it difficult to track down the original posters of much of the content we receive, but it does further support the claim that there were many witnesses to a spectacular UFO event that evening," Hansen told HuffPost in an email. "An eerily similar case reported in Brazil in 2011 is just one of several events with an almost identical description."
But, Hansen said, it's still possible the Houston photos could have been a copycat hoax that was coordinated "to springboard off the UFO hype" after the video came out.
As for the video shot by Peña from inside his car, Hansen said, it could be depicting "exploding flares or firework mortars of some sort."
"In one episode of 'Fact or Faked,' we tried to replicate a historic photo of an event known as the 'Battle of Los Angeles' by shooting flares into the sky," Hansen said. "The lights in [the Peña] video quickly appear and fade away, reminding me of the results of our experiments. I took a still frame of part of the Houston video and there's a part where it almost looks as if smoke trails are visible, perhaps indicating exploding ordnance. It would be an odd occasion to light off such things during the middle of a lightning storm."
And Dantonio concluded that all of the photos of the object "were taken through a window."
"This you can tell, not by looking at the circular lights themselves, but by looking elsewhere in the image at other lights and objects," he said. "The 'Houston lights' case to me, anyway, was really a conglomeration of multiple different sightings of different objects, but all from the same basis of window reflection.
"Calling it a 'mass sighting' is disingenuous because it was not a mass sighting of the same object."