Jan 30, 2021 I Allison Jornlin

Strange Lights Spotted Over North Carolina: A Mystery Solved?

The Charlotte Observer reports that multiple witnesses to a string of strange lights in the sky near Charlotte, North Carolina Saturday night took to Facebook to report their sightings. Photos documenting a formation of lights floating over the Indian Trail community in Union County, just southeast of Charlotte, were shared in the private Facebook group “What’s Up Indian Trail?”.

Witness Alisa Homewood described her sighting as soundless. The lights "flickered like lanterns, but followed the same exact path up until they disappeared which was odd." Homewood later told The Charlotte Observer the lights “resembled how a flame would look, flickering in the dark.”

Although Homewood's description seems typical of so-called Chinese lanterns or sky lanterns, which in complete darkness resemble a series of candle flames or floating fires drifting through the sky, the photos she captured of a trio of those lights show them to be bluish in color. If the lights were sky lanterns, they would most likely be reddish or orangish in hue.

In clarification Homewood said:

"In the sky it did not look blue, it looked like a group of bright lights. I thought it was odd though, that a few people have seen and photographed that same blue-ish grouping of lights.”

Hundreds of commenters on Facebook passionately opined on the lights, speculating that they were flares, drones, or even a SpaceX rocket launch. Others suspected it might be a Starlink train, a line of low-orbiting satellites deployed by SpaceX, intended to one day offer broadband Internet connectivity everywhere on Earth. Videos of these Starlink trains resemble an alien invasion and should be widely distributed to quell any future War of the Worlds-level-hysteria. If you'd like to see one of these formations in action, you can track Starlink and get recommendations of dates and times that offer the best visibility in your area.

A Starlink train was my favorite explanation. That is, until I got in touch with Alisa Homewood, and was able to ask some follow-up questions.

I'm writing an article on the NC lights. Have you received a satisfactory explanation of what they were?

AH: I haven't received any explanations and don't anticipate I will. There are several speculations from the community but nothing with evidence.

What color would you say the lights were? White? Yellow? Orange? Red?

AH: They were orange first then looked bright white, then when they were right overhead they were orange like fire.

How many other witnesses posted about the sighting Saturday?

AH: I only saw one other person in the parking lot with me (other than my family), but she hasn't come forward and I don't know who she was. Otherwise there are over 100 comments on the Facebook post, and I believe maybe 5-10 mentioned seeing something similar, and I believe only a few (3 or so) said they saw what I saw the same night, but no one has produced photos to confirm we saw the same thing.

What time of night was your sighting?

AH: 9:30-9:40 p.m. Another lady saw them at 5 a.m. a different day.

I presented Alisa Homewood with a video that I took of known sky lanterns, which initially look very mysterious, especially if you've never seen them before. When I first saw these flickering flames in the sky, I was compelled to follow them in my car until I got to the bottom of it. Then I made a video about it.

Did what you saw resemble the sky lanterns in this video?

AH: Yes, only there were several. The lights looked like individual flames, they were flickering just like that video you just shared. That was my thought . .  . Chinese lanterns. They formed into almost a line and went very high then disappeared. No one in the area has confirmed they sent them up, I was hoping someone would say "Oh, that was our group." To be fair, I was honestly just curious what they were. I have no notion to believe they are or aren't lanterns, I was just curious. But yes, my exact words when I saw them were "They resembled lanterns."

For me, pending new information, the case is closed. The string of strange lights spotted by Alisa Homewood this Saturday in North Carolina were most like sky lanterns. One mystery solved. Onto the next!

Allison Jornlin

Allison Jornlin is a researcher, writer, and speaker who has investigated Forteana in the Midwest for more than 20 years. Poltergeists, fae folk, and paranthropology are her favorite topics. She helps plan Hawaii ParaCon, Hawaii’s annual paranormal conference. You can follow Allison on Twitter and Facebook.

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