Police departments from across the country reported a multitude of 9-1-1 calls about strange “non-moving” lights in the sky on March 1 that turned out to just be the planets Jupiter and Venus.
In Stanislaus and Sonoma counties in Northern California, emergency services received multiple calls about the planetary phenomenon, and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office took to Facebook to alert the public that the lights were indeed not UFOs.
“Do not be alarmed as NASA said that Jupiter and Venus would appear in the western sky on March 1st,” the agency wrote.
The event, where the two planets appear together in the western horizon, is known as a “conjunction” and occurs every 13 to 14 months.
“Venus is so bright. It is the number one reported UFO. So people mistake it for a lot of things, but they’re just bright planets doing a little dance, if you will, in the sky,” Milwaukee Public Museum planetarium director Bob Bonadurer told WISN News. “Venus is quicker than Jupiter, further from the sun. So they’re passing each other in the night, if you will. And they’re just lining up from our viewpoint here on planet Earth.”
Law enforcement agencies in Hartford, Franklin and Walworth Counties in Wisconsin also received emergency calls.
“I’m reluctant to call, however, I’m gonna call and just ask, have y’all gotten any phone calls about a couple of lights that have just been kind of over Hartford or west of Hartford? Don’t know that they are, but it’s certainly not an airplane,” one caller told dispatch. “They’re kind of west of Hartford, 45 degrees up from the horizon, give or take.”
“Is it like the wind turbines?” dispatch replied.
“Those have a red light, these are two white lights that look like they are on the same horizontal plane.”
The calls were perhaps to be expected after the recent news about Chinese balloons.
“I am kind of surprised, but with all the things going on, things in the sky and all of that I get it,” Michelle Brown told WISN.
“Two stars right next to each other, it almost looked like a flying object or something, but it wasn’t moving. Then later I learned it was Venus and Jupiter,” Brown added.
“People have fast imaginations and they couldn’t understand that this could be something that just occurs,” said Milwaukee meteorologist Mark Baden with WSIN-TV, whose newsroom received more than 100 calls from viewers alarmed by the sight of the two planets. “People just don’t take scientific explanations very well anymore.”
In one case, a Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to confirm the presence of the lights, and to make sure “the lights were planets and not visitors from another planet,” department spokesperson James Burnett told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office reminded the public that the conjunction, which is expected to last for several days, is not an emergency.
“There is no reason to report this,” the agency said.