Media reports of a bright spherical object, streaking across the eastern sky have left many Kolkata residents intrigued, but scientists said it could be just an "optical illusion" - a result of cloud reflecting the city's lights.
"The images as shown on television channels have to be taken with a pinch of salt. They do not appear to be unidentified objects as claimed by some residents, but seem to be an optical illusion - a result of cloud reflecting city lights, a phenomenon than can be caused by refraction of light. It does not appear to be a natural phenomenon," M.P. Birla Planetarium director Debprosad Duari told IANS.
A claim by a senior executive of a private company that he had captured on video camera an unidentified object in the eastern sky early Monday had left scientists and the media in a tizzy, triggering a frenzy among people to spot the object.
Farhan Akhtar claimed to have captured the bright multi-coloured object from his 10th floor flat at Kalikapur in east Kolkata around 3.20 a.m. Monday. He said the phenomenon lasted for around three hours and disappeared when daylight appeared.
"From what I can understand, it could just be digital trickery as no natural phenomenon can last that long and change its colour and shape so rapidly," Duari said Tuesday.
The video footage of the object, as telecast on a Bengali television channel, showed the fireball changing its shape from a round object to a triangle and then turning into a straight line.
The object, spotted at a 30-degree angle from the horizon, also emitted a bright light that formed almost a halo and radiated a range of colours.
"If the person who shot the object with his handycam is to be believed, the fireball was seen moving from the east to the west. I first thought it could be a fragment of the Holmes Comet that had broken up on Oct 24, but if it is indeed a remnant of Holmes, it should have been seen in the western sky and also at 60 degrees above the horizon. But this is not the case here," Duari said.
"The object could be Venus because it is spotted in the eastern sky. But one cannot capture Venus on his handycam so close and so bright. So, if it is not Venus or a Holmes Comet, then it must be an optical illusion or just a figment of one's imagination," he said.
Duari said he would like to tally the claims made by a US citizen recently regarding sighting of an unidentified flying object with the claims made by the city-based executive.
Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics astro-particle physicist Kamalesh Kar said: "A cosmic body cannot change its appearance so rapidly. An expert needs to observe it for a longer period to comment on it. It is very difficult to draw any conclusion based on television pictures."