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Strange lights: UFOs, planes or Chinese wish lanterns?

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They may be fireworks, flares or Chinese wish lanterns, but some mid-valley residents want to believe they are something else.

After two women — who did not know each other — independently contacted the Democrat-Herald curious about unusual glowing objects in last Tuesday night’s sky, others piped up saying they saw them too, while still others provided plausible explanations.

Misty and Tim Stalford were outside Tuesday night just before 10 p.m. when they saw the orbs.

“They started out in a line, and I turned to Tim and said, ‘What is that?’ That’s when they started breaking up,” Misty said. “We started counting and there was 11 of them.”

The Stalfords live near Sunrise Elementary. They saw the silent orbs in a single line, moving south in the eastern sky.

“They were in classic Vietnam-era helicopter formation,” her husband Tim added.

“They stayed together but there was no sound,” Misty said. “No rumble like when a plane goes over.”

They tried snapping a picture, but it didn’t turn out. They called a friend in the National Guard who told them air exercises were unlikely at that time on a Tuesday night, Misty said.

One reader wrote that he saw some young people setting off Chinese wish lanterns in southeast Albany around 9:50 p.m. Tuesday.

While Stalford conceded what she saw may have been lanterns, she doubts it.

“For as many as we saw, all in a straight line, I can’t believe it’s kids playing a joke,” she said. “I can’t believe they could pull something like that off in such an orderly fashion.”

Another woman saw some unusual glowing orange balls at about 7:15 p.m. Thursday and called the Democrat-Herald.

Carol Blakely said she was driving when she saw three orange lights in the air southeast of Seven Mile Lane.

She watched for more than 10 minutes as the very round, glowing orange objects moved gently above the horizon, evenly spaced.

Blakely, who has lived in Brownsville for 23 years, said she is familiar with Chinese wish lanterns and the objects she saw were not lanterns.

“I had never seen anything like it,” she said. “It didn’t look like yard lights or anything like that.”

She stopped driving to just look at them.

“I though, oh my goodness look at that,” she said.

Misty Stalford said she and her husband haven’t seen anything since Tuesday. “But we are all watching now.”

Reached Friday at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, OMSI Planetarium Manager Jim Todd said he hadn’t received any reports of strange objects in the sky.

He said the space station would have been visible between 7:08 and 7:11 Thursday.

Perhaps that is what Blakely saw. “But that is just one bright object,” he said.

Like some readers, Todd also offered up jets flying in formation and flares as possible explanations.

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