Jennifer Terman

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Mystery balloons hovering over county may belong to Google

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s ... Google!

Many Nevada County residents were puzzled by multiple objects in the sky Friday, speculating on comets and drones. In fact, it appears they are part of a new Google Internet project.

Google confirmed its balloons could be in the area as part of Project Loon, a worldwide Internet movement involving the launch of white transparent balloons with Internet receptors into the stratosphere.

These balloons float twice as high as airplanes and are carried around the Earth by winds, according to Users connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building.

The signal bounces from balloon to balloon, then to the global Internet back on Earth.

The balloons were launched in the California Central Valley in August, according to The tests began in August and run through the end of the year.

“They can occasionally move into that area,” said Google representative Kaitlin Jabbari, regarding the sightings of balloons throughout Nevada County.

Locals reported the silvery objects to be oval-shaped, very bright and somewhat translucent.

The objects seemed to have moved farther away and higher up since the initial viewing Friday, some said.

“I have a neighbor who said that it’s definitely not a drone and not a weather balloon because it would have a different shape,” said Nevada City resident Harriet Totten, who first witnessed the object shortly after 12:36 p.m. Friday.

Self-proclaimed “comet hunter” Don Machholz from Colfax, who said he worked in the military, speculated that the object could have been a weather balloon, which he says are translucent.

“My guess is that it was some sort of balloon, but I was surprised that it looked so bright,” he said.

“When I looked again, 20 minutes later, it was gone.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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The Union Updated Nov 3, 2013 12:17AM Published Nov 4, 2013 07:46AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.