Farmer not convinced ‘unusual phenomenon’ a cloud-covered Venus –

A Marlborough farmer who saw what looked like a glowing, rotating sphere in the night sky remains sceptical that the “unusual phenomenon” was just Venus through the clouds.

Okaramio farmer Richard Paterson believed the light – or planet – was moving too much to be explained by cloud cover.

“I had lined it up with the top of the window frame, and it was definitely moving.”

Paterson’s partner Lizz captured the moment on her cellphone last Wednesday, and the couple had since tried to recreate the footage, thinking it might be the second rock from the Sun.


Marlborough farmers Lizz and Richard Paterson captured this footage on September 29, 2021.

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But Paterson said the light had not since moved or glowed like it did that night.

He shared the footage with Stuff last week, who sought a second opinion from an astronomer at the University of Canterbury.

Okaramio farmer Richard Paterson points to the spot where he saw a strange light on the evening of September 29.


Okaramio farmer Richard Paterson points to the spot where he saw a strange light on the evening of September 29.

Planetary Astronomy lecturer Dr Michele Bannister said after viewing the video, she was “pretty sure” the light was Venus. The planet was west of Okaramio at the time, and particularly bright, enough to shine through clouds which could make stars and planets appear to be moving.

“The videos just tell you that the camera was pointed at a point of light. The camera optics make an unresolved point of light look like that – it’s not ‘spherical’ as one of them mentions, though I can see why that’d be how it’d be described if you haven’t seen optics do that before,” Bannister said.

But Paterson said it was going “up and down, back and forwards, and it seemed like it was spinning very fast”. They watched for about 30 minutes before it disappeared, he said.

“A satellite doesn’t move like that … and drones don’t have lights like that.

“We were definitely feeling uneasy … I’m not saying it’s a flying saucer or men in silver suits, but it’s something we can’t identify.”


Civil Aviation Authority has launched a new drone safety campaign.

A Defence Force spokesperson confirmed there were no military aircraft in the area at that time.

The Civil Aviation Authority issued permission for drone flights, but was unable to confirm if Paterson’s sighting was a drone as it did not keep records of individual flights.

Paterson said after hearing Bannister’s comments he would keep an open mind.

“I mean it’s possible we’re wrong … I did wonder whether the technology was affecting how it looked in the video,” he said. “But that doesn’t explain how much we saw it moving.”

UFOs had been in the headlines more than usual this year as the Pentagon released a summary of its records of unexplained aerial phenomena (UAP), covering 144 sightings that were unexplained but were said to have no clear links to extraterrestrial life.

The US Department of Defence was developing a new strategy for collecting information on UAP sightings, recognising they were potential security threats.


Rocket Lab is planning the first private mission to another planet.

Officials said destigmatising UAPs and pushing pilots to report what they saw, no matter how implausible, was an important part of that work.

Marlborough had its own history of UAPs, the most famous being the Kaikōura Lights in 1978, filmed by a TV1 crew on a Safe Air flight east of Blenheim and over the Kaikōura peninsula. There was also Eileen Moreland’s sighting in Blenheim in 1959.

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