Middleborough, MA

Massachusetts witness describes ‘bright hovering objects’: UFO or Chinese lantern?

Roger Marsh

Cropped version of witness image.Photo byNational UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC.org)

A Massachusetts witness at Middleboro reported watching a series of “bright, hovering objects” at 10:33 p.m. on February 1, 2023, according to testimony from the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC).

Please keep in mind that most UFO reports can be resolved as something natural or man-made. These raw reports are for information only as investigators review the facts and attempt to resolve the case.

The report indicates that the witness was driving home from his father's house in Plymouth and was traveling westbound along Route 44 when three “bright lights” were observed in the sky in a line formation.

Investigators would be looking for details that might resolve a case like this as either a Chinese lantern or a drone. The lantern theory could be resolved by knowing which way the wind was moving to match and see if the objects are simply blowing along with the wind. A drone operator could be moving their piece over quite a distance in a local area and would not be subject to wind direction.

The witness testimony may or may not give you enough information to resolve the case indicating that an interview would be necessary.

The witness, in this case, saw the objects at different points as he traveled.

Route 44, Middleboro, MA.Photo byGoogle.

“As I drive off the exit, I notice that they are hovering over certain locations in the town,” the reporting witness stated. “As I drove away further from the highway and into a heavily wooded area I lost sight. I continued back on Route 44 west after stopping to get gas. While coming up on the exit in Taunton for Route 24 south heading towards Fall River, I saw in the sky three more bright hovering objects.”

This area is about six or more miles away from the original sighting and about 15 minutes after the initial sighting. If the investigator senses Chinese lanterns, it is typical that these are set off in groups – sometimes very large groups. They could also be launched in groups over a period of time.

Chinese Lanterns

One typical use for a large group of Chinese lanterns releasing is a group of people commemorating the death of a loved one. There are also towns around the country that use Chinese lanterns during festivals and may release hundreds into the night sky. I have read recent reports from the past two years where a witness will file a report with images thinking we are under a “mass invasion” – when in fact, a quick Google search shows the nearby town was indeed using lanterns during a festival at that time, date, and location.

The witness, in this case, continued along Route 24 south and several miles later while passing exit 16 saw over the tree line two more bright hovering objects.

“One was hovering almost directly above me more than several hundred feet up in the air. It was very high up but I believe I saw faint solid red and green lights on the bottom.”


Drones will have lights on them and you will generally hear sound coming from them as they move about. An investigator would be using the “red and green” light description and any clue of size and altitude to determine if this is what the witness was seeing.

According to Complete Guide to Drone Lights, drones are typically equipped with red and green lights. According to the guide, “The FAA now requires all aircraft to have bright, strobing anti-collision lights on the drone for all night flights so your UAV is visible to other pilots.”

Drone.Photo byWikimedia Commons.

The report indicates that the witness had several more encounters with the lights. The first and last sightings were about 27 miles apart from each other over the span of an hour. There is no mention in the report by the witness about wind direction or wind speed. These are details that would help an investigator close the case out.

Local Search

A quick look at Middleboro’s events calendar shows nothing was planned for February 1, 2023. The town did hold a “Holiday Lights in the Park” event on December 9-11 and 16-18, 2022. A release of lanterns could also have been done privately.

The report included one image, filed on February 13, 2023. Middleboro is a town in Plymouth County, MA, population 24,245. Witness quotes were edited for clarity. Please report UFO activity to NUFORC or to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).

Massachusetts Rating

Massachusetts was rated 28th in U.S. UFO sightings for February 2023 with 11 cases filed, according to the MUFON March 2023 newsletter. Massachusetts shared the rating with Utah and Connecticut. Florida topped the list with 93 cases.

There were 205 circle cases reported nationally in February 2023.

Recent Massachusetts Coverage

Historic Massachusetts

Middleboro, MA, town hall.Photo byWikimedia Commons.

There are dozens of Middleboro, MA, sightings reported in the NUFORC database prior to the February 1, 2023, case above. Listed below is a sampling of cases reported from this town.

July 29, 2022, at 9:04 p.m., several lights in a “ping pong pattern in sky.” The witness stated, “We watched them for several minutes ping-ponging around over our backyard. They eventually came together in the center and glowed like moonlight. In a split second, it just disappeared.”

September 27, 2020, at 6 p.m., a “dark circle hovers and takes off.” The witness stated, “The object high in the sky looked like a jellyfish and it turned into a circle and was dark in color and stopped and went straight up and disappeared.”

July 30, 2019, at 3 a.m., “Very bright lights in the sky that hovered in place for over an hour.” The witness stated, “I realized the lights were not moving, and noticed the lights were sort of shimmering and blinking (mostly white with what appeared to be only one red light). I kept staring at it thinking maybe it was a planet or a star, but this was no planet or star since I could see individual lights.”

June 30, 2019, at 11 p.m. The witness stated, “Three circle orbs seen going southeast and northeast blinking and traveling at speeds and maneuvers that are impossible for human technology.”

December 20, 2015, at 11:10 p.m., a triangle-shaped object was spotted. The witness stated, “All of a sudden out of nowhere without warning, a triangle-shaped object traveling at a very, very low altitude with five softly glowing lights round in shape on its underside was traveling from east to west flew directly overhead faster than any plane or a fighter jet I have ever seen with my own eyes in my entire life.”

Explore the Massachusetts witness database for yourself here. Please remember that these are witness accounts only and the reports do not include an investigator's professional opinion.

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ROGER MARSH is a media content producer with works in print, film, television, web, and stage. His “UFO Traffic Reports” published more than 7,000 times since 2009. He was a case researcher for the History channel’s “Hangar 1: The UFO Files.”

Franklinville, NY

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