A bright spiralling light, believed by astronomers to be a rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, was spotted in skies across Australia’s east coast just before dawn last Saturday, sparking a UFO frenzy.

Described by some witnesses as a “lollipop-type swirl”, the cloud of light was seen over the country’s three easternmost provinces – New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory – shortly before sunrise. “It had a distinct bright centre, much like a bright star … (with) trails spiralling and fattening out from it,” Canberra resident James Butcher told broadcaster ABC of the spectacle, which he said lasted two or three minutes.

Other witnesses likened the spectacular phenomenon, footage of which was quick to hit the Internet, to a “huge revolving moon” with a swirl in the middle, or an illuminated cloud moving high and fast above the horizon.

“It certainly had that lollipop-type swirl … but it was travelling low and fairly fast, and as it went past me and I looked up, it looked like a row of lights, maybe four lights,” one Brisbane resident said.

However, despite claims, the new Falcon 9 rocket launched by SpaceX created the phenomenon.
The Space Exploration Technologies company is a California-based spaceflight company led by millionaire PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. In an e-mail he sent to SPACE.com he said:

“I heard people in Australia thought UFOs were visiting. The venting of propellants, which is done to ensure that an overpressure event doesn’t produce orbital debris, created a temporary halo which caught the sun at just the right angle for a great view from Australia. I thought the pictures looked really cool.”

ABC reported that professional skywatchers quickly suggested that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket might be the source of the sky spiral. Geoffrey Whyatt of the Sydney Observatory said:

“The first I saw of the spirals was last year when they were reported in Norway and then a few days later in Russia. The Norway one was very spectacular because of its symmetrical appearance. But the one this morning and the one in Russia bear a striking similarity of being the same effects from a rocket trying to be controlled or adjusted. The fact that you’ve got the rotation, the spiral effect, is very reminiscent of the much widely reported sightings from Norway and Russia last year, which both turned out to be a Bulava missile which was being adjusted in its orbit. So possibly a rocket, I would say, having some sort of gyroscopic stability rocket fired on its side.”

The Bulava missile spiral occurred in December 2009 and set off a flurry of UFO sighting reports. Picture below.

Norwegians had front-row seats for a bizarre light show: a giant spiral with a green-blue streak trailing down to the horizon which was caused by a Russian missile that failed just after launch.

The launch of the privately owned Falcon 9 test rocket marked a milestone for the space industry in the race to develop commercial carriers capable of ferrying cargo and astronauts to the orbiting International Space Station.

View more photos of the Australian Spiral here.

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Legend has it that a four-legged fiend with glowing eyes and a blood-curdling howl stalks this very spot. Which makes these pictures of a mystery creature taken near Hound Tor on Dartmoor in July 2007 more intriguing than ever. Seen only yards away from a party of schoolchildren, the animal has a thick, shaggy coat, rounded ears and large front limbs which would be powerful enough to tear human flesh…or would they? Scroll down for the full story.

The “beast” up close.

Another close-up shot.

Some say it is a wild dog or cat. More fanciful theories include wolverine or bear. Whatever its identity, the Beast of Dartmoor is giving some farmers sleepless nights because they fear it will prey on their stock. Falconer Martin Whitley, who photographed the creature, said:

“It was walking along a path about 200 yards away from me. It was black and grey and comparable in size to a miniature pony. It had very thick shoulders, a long, thick tail with a blunt end and small round ears. Its movements appeared feline, then bear-like sprang to mind. There was a party climbing on the tor opposite making a racket but it ignored them completely.”

On the prowl: The creature trots along oblivious to the crowd of schoolchildren nearby.

A pack of spectral dogs known as the Whist Hounds or Hounds of Hell is said to roam the area according to local folklore, which inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles. The author is said to have been inspired by the legend of Squire Richard Cabell, a keen hunter from Brook Manor, Buckfastleigh. The squire was rumoured to have sold his soul to the Devil and after he died on July 5, 1677, a phantom pack of black hunting dogs with glowing red eyes is said to have raced across Dartmoor on the night of his interment, breathing fire and howling at his tomb. According to local legend, the demonic hounds have roamed the moor ever since and can often be seen around the anniversary of his death prowling around the grave trying to get the promised soul for the Devil.

The founder of the national research network Big Cats in Britain, Mark Fraser, said:

“It looks like a wolverine or a bear in some shots and a big wild dog in others. It is a very strange animal.”

Mr. Whitley is adamant that the creature is not a wild dog. He added:

“I have worked with dogs all my life and it was definitely not that. I have seen a collie-sized black cat in the area about ten years ago and it was not that – this was a lot bigger. You would be surprised at the number of people who have seen black big cats and something resembling a small bear in the area over the course of the years.”

Disappointingly for those who possess a vivid imagination, the most likely explanation is that the Beast is nothing more supernatural than a large and hairy wild boar. North Devon farmer Al Dedames lost more than 100 of his stock of boar in December 2005 when animal rights activists raided his farm and destroyed fencing. Since then, more than half are thought to have died in road traffic accidents or been shot by farmers or hunters. But those which survived have bred and up to 175 are said to be roaming the wilds of Devon and Somerset. However, not long after the photos emerged, one woman wasn’t chilled by rumours of its gaping jaws, glowing eyes and blood-curdling howls. That’s because Lucinda Reid recognised the “Demon of Dartmoor” as … her pet dog. The two-year-old Newfoundland – called Troy – weighs in at a whopping 12 stones. But, far from being ferocious, he’s as gentle as a lamb.

The ‘Beast’ of Dartmoor is just a harmless hound called Troy, its owner claims.

Miss Reid lives close to the spot where the photo was taken and often takes Troy for a walk there.

“I was in stitches when I read that someone thought Troy was the beast of Dartmoor,” she said. I spotted that it was him right away – you can tell by the shape and the way he is walking. We go up to that spot on Dartmoor all the time. It is only ten minutes away from our home and Troy loves to run about there.”

Miss Reid lives with her boyfriend Phil Hervin and their five-year-old daughter Summer in Newton Abbot, Devon. She said the family pet is often mistaken for something far more sinister during their regular moorland walks.

Out for a walk…Lucinda & Troy.

“A lot of people don’t have a clue what he is, because he’s so big. Troy frightens the life out of everyone because of his size and he doesn’t look like a dog from a distance. He sometimes disappears off round the rocks on his own, and that’s when he must have been photographed.”

Martin Whitley’s picture shows what looks like a strange animal loping across Dartmoor near a group of ramblers and children. Publication of the photograph stoked rumours that the moor is haunted by a pack of spectral dogs known as the Hounds of Hell. But Troy is definitely no hell-hound.

“A lot of people can be a bit afraid of him at first,” said Miss Reid. He weighs 12 stone and comes up to my hip. He leaves massive footprints. I suppose from a distance he may not immediately look like a dog. But Troy is certainly nothing to be afraid of, he’s a big softie. So, if anyone else sees him on the moor – there’s no need to panic.”

Miss Reid believes Troy might even hold a clue to the identity of the mystery creature said to prowl Bodmin Moor.

“One of Troy’s brothers lives near Bude in Cornwall,” she said. “So maybe he is the Beast of Bodmin.”

Is Troy and his brother the explanation to all of the other sightings in and around Dartmoor and Bodmin that go back a long way? That seems highly unlikely as video and photographic evidence, as well as many eyewitness accounts, shows that it more resembles a big cat type of animal. But it seems very likely that this case from 2007 has been solved. But, as ever, you decide.

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For more than a century, people have been hearing strange sounds in the sky over the lakes of Yellowstone National Park. Soft, inexplicable airborne sounds were heard by Edwin Linton, a scientist for the U.S. Fish Commission, when he worked at Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming, in 1890. He and a guide heard sounds like echoes, slightly metallic reverberations, from the air over Shoshone Lake. The sounds seemed to begin overhead and move southwest, lasting 30 seconds at a time. Sometimes they sounded like wind, but there was no evidence of a wind on the lake or in the surrounding trees.

“It seemed to begin at a distance and grow louder overhead where it filled the upper air, and suggested a medley of wind in the tops of pine trees and in telegraph wires, the echo of bells after being repeated several times, the humming of a swarm of bees, and two or three other less definite sources of sound.” (Edwin Linton, 1892)

Others who have heard the sound were F.H. Bradley:

“While getting breakfast, we heard every few moments a curious sound, between a whistle and a hoarse whine, whose locality and character we could not at first determine.”  (F.H. Bradley, 1872)

S.A. Forbes:

“It put me in mind of the vibrating clang of a harp lightly and rapidly touched high up above the tree tops, or the sound of many telegraph wires swinging regularly and rapidly in the wind, or, more rarely, of faintly heard voices answering each other overhead.” (S.A. Forbes, 1893)

H.M. Chittenden:

“They resemble the ringing of telegraph wires or the humming of a swarm of bees, beginning softly in the distance, growing rapidly plainer until directly overhead, and then fading as rapidly in the opposite direction.” (H.M. Chittenden, 1915)

Evidently the sound is very difficult to describe in words. One of Linton’s party called it “a twisting sort of yow-yow vibration.” Forbes calls it “really bewitching,” and Linton’s guide, Elwood Hofer, called it “the most mysterious sound heard among the mountains.” It was considered “real” enough to merit an entry in the Ranger Naturalists’ Manual but has never been explained.

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In the middle of the 1930s a large red London Bus, bearing a “7” route number harassed motorists in the North Kensington area of London.

“I was turning the corner and saw a bus tearing towards me,” the motorist testified before the police:

“The lights of the top and bottom deck, and the headlights were full on but I could see no sign of crew or passengers. I yanked my steering wheel hard over, and mounted the pavement (sidewalk), scraping the roadside wall. The bus just vanished.”

The motorist who who made this report to the local authorities in North Kensington, London, in the mid-1930’s may have been drunk, hallucinating, or dreaming at the wheel when he had the accident. But if he was, so were hundreds of other motorists who complained of being forced off the road by a phantom bus careening round the corner from St. Mark’s Road into Cambridge Gardens, near the Ladbroke Grove underground station. After one fatal accident, during which a driver had swerved and hit a wall head on, the local coroner took evidence of the apparition and discovered that dozens of local residents claimed to have seen the spectral double-decker. Many claimed that they had crashed while swerving to avoid a speeding double decker bus that hurtled down St. Mark’s Road in the small hours, long after regular buses ceased service. Among the most impressing of these witnesses was a local transport official who claimed that he had seen the vehicle draw up to the local bus depot in the early hours of the morning, stand with engine purring for a moment, and then disappear. Eventually the local council straightened out the road there, and the accident rate was greatly reduced. Thereafter there were no more reports of the ghostly red bus.

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Am Fear Liath Mòr; also known as The Grey Man of Ben Macdui or simply The Greyman) is the name of a presence or creature which is said to haunt the summit and passes of Ben Macdui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms and the second highest peak in Britain. It has been described as an extremely tall figure covered with short hair, or as an unseen presence that causes uneasy feelings in people who climb the mountain. Evidence of the existence of this creature is limited to various sightings and a few photographs of unusual footprints.

It was traditionally seen as a supernatural being, but Am Fear Liath Mòr has been compared to the Yeti of the Himalaya and the Sasquatch or Bigfoot of North America. References to wild ‘Greymen’ in Scotland and similar creatures elsewhere in Europe, sometimes called Wudewas or ‘Wood Men’, date back to the 13th century, and are believed by some to represent relict hominids.

In 1925, the noted climber John Norman Collie had an unnerving experience. Collie, in an annual meeting of the Cairngorm Club, came forward with his terrifying encounter he had endured while alone near the summit of Ben Macdui some 35 years before:

“I was returning from the cairn on the summit in a mist when I began to think I heard something else than merely the noise of my own footsteps. For every few steps I heard a crunch, and then another crunch as if someone was walking after me but taking steps three or four times the length of my own. I said to myself this is all nonsense. I listened and heard it again but could see nothing in the mist. As I walked on and the eerie crunch, crunch sounded behind me I was seized with terror and took to my heels, staggering blindly among the boulders for four or five miles nearly down to Rothiemurchus Forest. Whatever you make of it I do not know, but there is something very queer about the top of Ben Macdui and I will not go back there myself I know.”

Other climbers have also reported similar experiences, many describing uncontrollable feelings of fear and panic, some actually seeing a huge grey figure behind them, and others only hearing sounds or even succumbing to inexplicable feelings of terror while in the area.

In another account from 1943 mountaineer Alexander Tewnion claimed that he had actually shot at a creature with his revolver. He had been climbing Ben Macdui when a thick mist descended so he descended by the Coire Etchachan path. He heard footsteps nearby and remembering the account from professor Collie he peered cautiously into the mist. A strange shape loomed up and came charging towards him. Pulling out his gun he fired three times and then turned and ran towards Glen Derry.

In the Matt Lamy book 100 Strangest Unexplained Mysteries, Lamy notes a sighting in the early 1990’s in which three men caught sight of a bipedal creature with an eerie, inhuman, face in a forest near Aberdeen. Several weeks later, whilst driving through the area at night, the creature appeared again and ran alongside their car even at speeds of 45 miles per hour, seemingly trying to enter the vehicle.

Similar panic responses have been reported in many North American Sasquatch encounters, and explanations involving infrasound or pheromones have been advanced. Cryptozoologist Karl Shuker has expressed belief that the creature is the guardian of an inter-dimensional portal in his 1997 book, The Unexplained. However, hallucinations and panic brought on by isolation and exhaustion, or an optical illusion similar to the Brocken spectre, are very plausible explanations for the Big Grey Man legend. A Brocken spectre, or ‘glory’, can occur in certain atmospheric conditions when the sun is at a particular angle. The subject’s shadow can be cast onto low lying clouds around them, creating the illusion of a large shadowy humanoid figure. This is the most commonly advanced theory to explain the reported sightings.

Whether these feelings sounds and sightings are down to psychological or optical phenomena is hard to prove however one thing is for sure – the climbers who scale this ghostly mountain keep their ears tuned for the sound of the Grey Man of Ben Macdui stalking them through the mist!

Summit of Ben Macdui.

A Brocken spectre, also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre is the apparently enormous and magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun.

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