Report On Phoenix Light Arrays

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(NOTE: the following analysis of March 13, 1997 sightings over Phoenix refers to the sightings by a few people of lights at about 10 PM. An earlier sighting by hundreds of people around 8:30 PM of a dark triangular object that blocked the stars was a UFO. It is not the subject of this analysis.)

Although there have been numerous sightings of bright lights in the sky south of Phoenix by various witnesses over the years, the lights seen on the nights of March 13, 1997 and January 14, 1998 were particularly valuable for study because (1) rather unique arrangements of lights within the arrays made the identification of specific lights that appeared in two or more videos quite conclusive and (2) the witnesses were in widely separated locations so it was possible to use triangulation methods to determine the locations of the lights to within, say five to ten miles. Although one could have asked for better accuracy in triangulation, the fact is that 10, even 20 mile accuracy was sufficient to determine whether the lights were nearby (within 20 miles of Phoenix) or far away (more than 60 miles away).

A good example of a multiply videotaped event for which the indiviual lights can be identified in the various videos is the sighting on January 14. Although there was not complete correlation between all of the lights seen that night by the various witnesses, there were two specific arrangements or arrays that were completely identifiable: a linear array and a triangle. The linear array appeared as a "perfectly" straight but tilted line of unevenly spaced lights. It was videotaped by K (Mike Krzyston, FIGURE 1), L (name withheld at request of witness, FIGURE 2), P (name withheld at request of witnesses, FIGURE 3) and R (Chuck Rairdon, FIGURE 4).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

There is no doubt as to which light of the array is which in these several videos. The same is true of a triangular arrangement illustrated in FIGURES 5 - 6 - 7 and 8, although in the P video (FIGURE 7) the triangle appears distorted relative to the triangle in the K, L and R videos because of the viewing angle and the arrangement of the lights.

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 8

Other sightings and videos of a similar nature (nearly stationary bright single lights or arrays of lights) have been made by these and other witnesses and many of these bright lights appear to be of the same nature as the lights discussed here. However, there are also sightings from the Phoenix area which are clearly not related to the lights discussed here (e.g., moving triangle or March 13, 1997; orange spheres of February 6, 1995 to be reported elsewhere) and are not a subject of this discussion.


The basic data presented below are the sighting directions to the various lights. These data have been obtained from combining (a) on-site inspections of the scenery at the locations of L, K, P and R, (b) calibrations of the videocameras for angular field of view (degrees per length of film image), (c) identifications of geographical features which appear in nighttime videos (lights, mountains) and (d) locations of these or nearby geographical features and the positions of the witnesses on a topographical map. Steps (c) and (d) provided reasonably accurate reference sighting lines which have been used, along with the calibrations (b), to determine sighting lines to the various unknown lights from the locations of the various witness. The actual locations of the various lights have been estimated by graphical construction (drawing sighting lines on maps) and also by trigonometric means (the law of sines, with a baseline and two azimuth angles for each light). The trigonometric calculations are much more precise than the data warrant, but they nevertheless act as a valuable check on the graphical constructions, which rely on the accuracy of maps, protractors and graphing techniques.


To locate the positions of K, L, R and P, first get a reasonably detailed map of Phoenix and vicinity showing Apache Junction in the east and Buckeye in the west of Phoenix. Next, locate the place where Interstate 10 (east-west) meets Interstate 17. (Any Phoenix map will show this junction.) Note that the roads in Phoenix run accurately due east - west or due north - south. From map north, azimuth zero degrees the locations are as follows, measuring from the I10, I17 junction.

K 5.5 degrees, 10.9 miles

L 50 , 8.6

R 89.5 , 31.2

P 262 , 25.3

(Note that R and P are almost in opposite directions)

MILEAGE SEPARATIONS: FROM K to L - 7.5 mi, 135 deg azimuth

FROM K to R - 32 mi, 110

FROM K to P - 29.7 mi, 242

FROM R to P - 55 mi, about 172 deg.

Note: considering the inaccuracies in maps (directions, scale factors), protractors and rulers one may assume the accuracies of these numbers are roughly (+/- 0.3) miles and (+/- 0.5) degrees.

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© copyright B. Maccabee, 2000. All rights reserved.