UFO Rings: The Hula Hoops of the Sky

There are innumerable different types of unidentified objects out there, some more common than others. Rods, orbs, saucers. Doritos. And then we have rings.

While perusing the latest UFO reports from April 2015 on the MUFON database, I came across the following submission involving yet another one of these suspicious rings in New Ellenton, South Carolina on April 8, 2015.

Image: MUFON submission
Image: MUFON submission

“I was photographing clouds with my cell phone,” the report reads, “In between layers of cloud was what I thought a star until I went inside and zoomed in. The circle with a hole on the center was clearly not a star. I was in front of my house in New Ellenton, S. C. In Aiken County. I enjoy photographing the sky, stars moon and clouds. But I have never seen this before.”

This one’s a bit different from the smoky UFO rings I’m used to seeing reported.

For one, it seems bright, almost glowing. The witness does, after all, claim that he or she mistook it for a star, and the sighting occurred around 8:00 p.m. But, in general, whether this is related to the others or not, unidentified rings seem to be a recurring phenomenon.

The more common unidentified rings tend to be dark and smoky, as I mentioned. This leads most to believe they’re ordinary in nature (at the very least, well, smoke), but they can be nonetheless mysterious. Take this recent sighting in Kazakhstan, for example.

On April 3, 2015, an odorless, black ring hovered in the air for about fifteen minutes, then dissipated. While the original footage has become difficult to find, this video shows it side-by-side with a possible explanation involving a very much man-made ring of fire.

While it’s uncertain where the April 3 smoke ring truly originated, perhaps, as one professor stated, it may have been caused by “combustion from a nearby factory.” This would be in line with conclusions drawn from previous UFO ring encounters.

What previous unidentified ring encounters, you ask? According to NBC News, in 2014 a very similar smoke ring appeared near Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, England, and was ultimately found to have been caused by a fireworks test. Another, which occurred in Chicago in 2012, was the result of an exploded transformer. And, worst of all for anyone (like me) wanting a mystery here, there are apparently machines that just, you know, create these things. For fun. Here’s the normal speed version of that explanation video I linked up there:

It’s reasonable to assume that most smoke rings are the result of such things, whether intentionally or by accident. But perhaps there is still a mystery. How about that MUFON report from April 8, the ring that seemed to glow? While it’d be easy to write off everything all at once, the presence of a single possible explanation for a phenomenon doesn’t necessarily solve every single case!

Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.

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