TLDR version:

Date and Time: Sunday, August 13, 2023, from approximately 01:00 AM to 01:45 AM (Duration: 45 minutes). aka late night Saturday 8/12/23

Location: Kennedy Meadows Campground, Sierra Nevada (Coordinates: 36.0545390, -118.1312214). The observed lights were in the north-northeast direction, towards Olancha/Lone Pine. Distance was hard to determine so could have possibly been out over Death Valley.

Weather Conditions: 58°F, few clouds, not very windy, new moon, perfect conditions for stargazing.

The Phenomenon:

• Lights Observed: Between 20-30 (possibly up to 100) lights observed in the sky. • Colors and Intensity: Lights were primarily orange or white, capable of both colors, and varied in intensity, fading in and out. • Movement: The lights moved at varying speeds, including fast trajectories similar to meteors but rarely in a straight line. Some appeared to float while others raced around, shooting up into space. They also circled each other, separated, and rejoined. • Duration: Some lights remained in view for almost the entire sighting, others for only 30 seconds at a time.

Equipment Malfunction: Both professional and hobbyist astrophotography cameras (including a Canon full-frame DSLR) experienced unusual malfunctions, producing very dark or entirely black images during the event. The cameras returned to normal functionality afterward.

Witnesses: Multiple witnesses, including those skeptical of UFOs, were present and all observed the same phenomena.

Context: The event coincided with the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, and the group had gone camping to observe the shower.

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Saturday August 12 was the peak of the Perseids meteor shower this year. It was a new moon and the skies were mostly clear so I got a group together to go camping at Kennedy Meadows Campground in the Sierra Nevada mountains between Kernville and Pearsonville.

We arrived Friday night and saw tons of shooting stars, it was awesome. Saturday night my friend met up and brought her astrophotography equipment out to try and get some shots. I also have decent astrophotography equipment and was hoping to maybe learn a little bit from her.

Around 1am another friend pointed out what he thought was the Starlink satellites. This friend does not believe in UFOs or aliens or anything like that. I wouldn’t say he’s close minded to it he just demands evidence before he can speculate, which is fair. He was pointing the ‘satellites’ out to us in the sky (there were 5 of us) and we were watching these lights in a line when suddenly two of them split off. One shot straight up into the sky and the other did a semi-circle curve and then began floating around in a random pattern.

Shortly after that more lights came down from the sky, they looked just as fast if not faster than the meteors that were also everywhere. We were seeing maybe 2 or 3 meteors a minute and these lights kind of blended in with some of the meteors except they’d join up with the others and stop dead in their tracks. No deceleration until they just stopped.

I have an aquarium with guppies and it reminded me of how guppies act. A handful will be racing about the tank chasing around the others while a handful of larger ones just kind of float about aimlessly. There wasn’t any pattern to the direction of travel after a while, they were just comingling in the sky. Almost like they were playing games with each other.

My astrophotography friend and I at first were reluctant to get out our cameras because we didn’t want to miss anything with our own eyes, our cameras were somewhere in our tents but everything is kind of a mess. After 20 minutes of watching we felt it was safe to get our cameras out of our tents, these things weren’t leaving anytime soon. We spent the next 20 minutes taking photos but our cameras refused to work. They worked fine the night before, and they worked fine the day after, but at the time of the sighting my camera (Olympus em1 mkiii with 12-40 f2.8 pro lens) and her camera (full frame Canon dslr that takes excellent astrophotography images) just would NOT work and they both had the exact same unusual problem. Our shutter would be set to 8 seconds, 12 seconds, 20 seconds, etc – but no matter what our shutters would fire at the fastest speed and not pick up any light at all. She checked over my camera and I checked over her camera and we both had our settings looking pretty good, it just would not work. Super frustrating. After 15 minutes of taking nothing but pitch black shots we gave up on our cameras and continued watching with our own eyes.

My other friend, also a skeptic, was kind of having a panic attack over the whole thing. She got scared to death when she saw these things moving about. We were all seeing the same thing, all five of us would start talking like “oh my god the one on the right just did a loop” and there was no discrepancy between what any of us saw. I’ve asked each of them to write their own personal statement on it so hopefully I’ll have other witness accounts soon, although I don’t expect them to differ very much. Towards the end of the ‘show’ we even tried waking up the people at the campsite next to us because we felt like more people would want to see this, but they didn’t wake up/didn’t want to get dressed. None of us would ever try waking up a stranger at a campsite for something that wasn’t absolutely mind blowing to all of us.

I’ve searched twitter for ufo and Kennedy meadows and other terms I could think of but didn’t see anyone talking about it. We all find this pretty hard to believe that we were the only ones who saw it. It was during the peak of the best meteor shower of the year, people were obviously going to be watching the skies right?? So why can’t I find any more information about this?? Can anybody with more knowledge than me help me research what we saw?

submitted by /u/hotdogfever
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