In the tradition of Charles Fort, our good friend (and Darklore contributor) Blair MacKenzie Blake has collected a newspaper 'clipping' (more correctly, found an eBay listing for a collectable newspaper) that discusses an anomalous meteor shower way back in 1803.
This electrical phenomenon was observed on Wednesday morning last at Richmond, and its vicinity, in a manner that alarmed many, and astonished every person who beheld it. From one until three in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers as to resemeble a shower of sky rockets.
...Several of those shooting meteors, were accompanied with a train of fire, that illuminated the sky for a considerable distance. One in particular, appeared to fall from the Zenith, of the apparent size of a ball of eighteen inches in diameter, that lighted for several seconds the whole hemisphere.
...Since writing the above, we have been informed that several of the largest of these shooting meteors, were observed to descend almost to the ground before they exploded.
However, rather than being - as the eBay listing has it - an "1803 headline display newspaper UFO / Flying Saucers seen over RICHMOND Virginia", this report was likely witness testimony of a particularly magnificent manifestation of the Lyrid meteor shower. In fact, an article written about this newspaper story, which collated it with other witness reports, was published in Popular Astronomy in 1931 (click for a PDF of the article).
What I found interesting about the testimony, however, was the mention of the sounds heard:
During the continuance of this phenomenon, a hissing noise in the air was plainly heard, and several reports, resembling the discharge of a pistol.
The 1931 article also mentions a witness at another location as saying that "we distinctly heard a hissing in the air, but heard no reports".
This mention of a hissing sound (and pistol-like reports) reminded me of a fascinating article which appeared in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (Volume 7, Issue 4), "Progress in Explaining the Mysterious Sounds Produced by Very Large Fireballs" (which I originally discussed in this Grail story). In it, author Colin Keay notes that "for about ten percent of those who do witness a very luminous meteor fireball, the mental impression is heightened by strange swishing, hissing and popping noises coincident with its passage across the sky. Such sounds are quite anomalous in that they imply acoustic propagation at the speed of light."
A suggested explanation for these anomalous sounds has been that the plasma trail produced by a fireball as it ionises the air in the atmosphere might be generating extra low frequency (ELF) radio waves. And in June this year a sky survey offered possible confirmation of this theory.
And to finish with an interesting sidenote regarding meteors and anomalous science: just a few days after the report above, a meteor shower in France occurred, the investigation of which (by Jean-Baptiste Biot) provided some solid evidence to the scientific establishment that rocks did actually fall from the heavens - marking a change from previous skepticism of eyewitness reports of this unlikely occurrence - and it is perhaps the event which could be said to have given birth to the science of meteoritics.
Posted for no other reason than to giggle at the absurdity of water in space. Though it does also provide some understanding of the technical (and biological) challenges of space travel...
This is probably the best thing you'll read this week, or perhaps this entire year: A rather ballsy editorial by Robbie Graham, film researcher & author of the upcoming book Silver Screen Saucers, on why the UFO Disclosure movement is either defunct, or should be regarded as such by anyone interested in moving forward in our understanding of the phenomenon, instead of just maintaining a subordinate attitude toward government officialdom, in hope that if we yell long & loud enough, they might finally share with us the secrets about UFOs they may still hold.
But what if, as Robbie and several others in the research community have already asked, the only thing governments are keeping away from us, is their complete incapacity to make heads or tails about what UFOs really are, and their true interests and/or intentions toward humanity? What if they are only hiding their own ignorance and insecurity toward a phenomenon to which they have absolutely no control of?
The ultimate irony of the Disclosure movement is that it deeply distrusts officialdom, while simultaneously looking to officialdom for the truth. And by imagining all answers to the UFO mystery to be out of public reach, deep in the bowels of the national security state, the Disclosure movement actually places power into hands of officialdom, while disempowering the individual.
Robbie delivered this paper during the latest Exopolitics conference in Leeds, but instead of being tarred and feathered by an angry mob, he received a standing ovation! Perhaps it was because people are getting tired of the empty promises delivered by the leaders of the Disclosure movement, who for the past 15 years or so keep hammering on how 'the Truth' is just around the corner, and how soon we'll all be enjoying free energy in a peaceful planet which has finally been admitted in the Galactic Federation --Stephen Bassett was also a speaker in that event, and in contrast he received a lukewarm applause after his presentation.
But it's not that Robbie is poo-pooing *everything* that the Exopolitics movement has tried to accomplish. On the contrary, he acknowledges the efforts of "Bassett and others [who] undoubtedly have brought the UFO phenomenon (whatever it might represent) to the attention of many thousands of people around the world who previously were indifferent to the issue."
What does concern me, however, is that Disclosure has become the focus of the UFO community, its alluring offer of a fast track to UFO truth marginalising the more esoteric approaches to the phenomena. In short, in the age of Disclosure and Exopolitics, the pursuit of UFO truth is political, rather than mystical. If the day ever comes when humanity can claim an understanding of the UFO phenomenon, I’m very confident that politics will have played almost no role in this enlightenment.
It has to be said that, not too long ago, Robbie's attitude toward Disclosure was somewhat different, and he even tried to use his blog Silver Screen Saucers as a platform to support the Exopolitics activism. It was in fact Robbie the one who convinced me to join in the Disclosure Petition, that Stephen Bassett had launched on the We the People White House webpage in 2011 --and we all know how well THAT turned out, don't we?
When I asked Robbie via e-mail when he started to change his mind about Disclosure and why, this was his response:
I'm not really sure I 'changed my mind' about Disclosure so much as my mind inevitably moved on from it (as you predicted it would!). As individuals, our minds are all 'wired' a certain way -- we're each inclined to certain modes of thought. I'm a left-brainer. The nuts-and-bolts, political route to UFO 'truth' held natural appeal for me. But, as you know, a truly open-minded approach to UFO studies demands weighty input from the right brain. Indeed, for many in this field, the right-brained approach is the natural one.
Obviously, my latest piece is not objectively 'correct' or 'true' -- it's simply an opinion piece. It's where I 'am' right now, sort of. But I'm learning that where I am right now is probably very far from I'll be a year or even six months from now. So read it lightly. If it resonates with anyone else, cool. If it annoys people, that's cool, too, and I'd encourage those latter folk to ask themselves why they feel provoked and to listen carefully to their inner voice for an honest reply.
I certainly hope that Robbie's op-ed kickstarts a much-needed discussion in the community. Because IMO it's high time we recognize what the evidence we've already gathered in the last 67 years or so seems to point at: That the UFO phenomenon doesn't show a particular interest in our quaint forms of governmental structures, and instead of the iconical saucer landing on the White House lawn, what in fact seems to be happening is a 'Grassroots' type of Contact; as such, the Paradigm change ought to come from the bottom-up, instead of waiting to be sanctioned by the higher-ups, as the Disclosure movement is expecting.
It's time to cut the middleman out of the equation, and for each and everyone of us to do our own heavy-lifting; not just wait for the answers to be handed down to us by professional liars.
Many MANY things happened during the 3rd installment of the Paradigm Symposium, which ended a week ago. One of those things is that I gave my very first video interview for UFO Hub, an online platform dedicated to discuss UFOs, paranormal & metaphysical subjects.
The guy who runs the site, Adnan Ademovic, approached me while we were at the event and asked me to talk with me, so he could learn a bit more of where I stand on the subject of UFOs. Since chatting with like-minded people is one of the main reasons why I travel 1800 miles to Minneapolis, I was more than happy to do so.
I guess I did make a good 1st impression, because after I wore his ear off with all my ramblings about anything from UFOs & synchronicities, to the subject of human consciousness, he asked me to do a little video recording for his Youtube channel later that night.
We did everything in one take, as you may easily deduct; and even though I'm upset over the fact that my tongue got twisted a couple of times, in the end I even surprised myself on how I managed to say something intelligible about my favorite Fortean topic. I even decided to add a final thought about my recent position on Consciousness, and how it might just turn out to be the key that will help us unlock all these seemingly unrelated mysteries, which are unfortunately still addressed independently by researchers --with dismayingly little success...
I also realize that what I said isn't really that 'new', since it was proposed by luminaries like Vallee & Keel decades ago. But perhaps the time is now ripe to finally admit that the phenomenon refuses to fit into our neat little pet theories. As a matter of fact, shamelessly challenging our comforting notions of what Reality is, might just be the greatest gift UFOs could dispense to mankind.
On the UFO Hub channel you can also find more interviews of a few of the Paradigm speakers, including Nick Redfern & Chase Kloetzke, 2 people I know consider good friends, thanks to the Paradigm Symposium.
Let it be said: for a supposedly 'dead' planet, Mars keeps throwing out cool anomalies for us. From odd 'lights' to a buried robot, there's hardly a dull day when it comes to looking for the strange. And here's the Red Planet's anomaly du jour: a perfect little sphere, quietly sitting atop another, separate, piece of flat rock.
Relax folks, it's totally explainable:
According to MSL scientists based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., the ball isn’t as big as it looks — it’s approximately one centimeter wide. Their explanation is that it is most likely something known as a “concretion.” Other examples of concretions have been found on the Martian surface before — take, for example, the tiny haematite concretions, or “blueberries”, observed by Mars rover Opportunity in 2004 — and they were created during sedimentary rock formation when Mars was abundant in liquid water many millions of years ago.
Or, maybe it's just the ripe fruit that seems to have fallen from the Martian ball tree at the left of this image...
(Thanks to Alienated for the heads-up)
A big happy birthday - or should I say bon anniversaire - to our good friend, legendary ufologist Jacques Vallee, who turns 75 today! To celebrate, here's some exciting news: Jacques is partnering with Daily Grail Publishing to re-release his all-time classic Passport to Magonia, a ground-breaking exploration of the strange crossover between elements of fairy folklore and UFO contact cases. Yay!
Since publishing Jacques' Messengers of Deception back in 2008, I've had many people pleading with me to persuade JV to republish Passport to Magonia. Even roughed-up second-hand copies of the book have been going for $60 and upwards, so take note - we're aiming to make shiny new hardcover, paperback and ebook editions available for much less than that. If you've been wanting to add Passport to Magonia to your book collection - and let's face it, what true Fortean wouldn't - then hang in there for a couple of months, when we make the new edition available.
The big UFO news over the past few days has been a supposed mass sighting of unidentified object hovering over Houston Texas, with the image above being one of the most publicized photos of a few doing the rounds. A search of Twitter shows that over the past day or two this has become a hugely popular story, probably on account of the Daily Mail story linked above.
Could a UFO have visited Texas this week?
Several people have taken it to Twitter to post pictures showing a strange object floating through the Houston clouds during a storm last Monday.
Some of the pictures show a bright oval object hovering. An unrelated picture shows a similar object through clouds. There are others, some showing what appears to be lights underneath the 'thing.'
Here's a local news report from immediately after the 'sighting' (August 12):
My thoughts: originally on seeing the most popular photos, I wondered why some of the photos show a very stormy night, while others show what appears to be a very clear night. After that, I dug into Twitter a bit to try and find the origins of the most popular photos - and, rather than finding "several people", the two most popular seem to have originated with the same person, one Nathaniel Xavier (@djnayyz) - photo 1, and photo 2. (Note: in a later tweet @djnayyz then said "I never took that picture I just posted it", though he has not yet answered commenters asking about the actual origin. He also seems happy to take the national media attention that's come along with his 'reposts').
A couple of days later Xavier then posted a video of the UFO to Instagram:
Is that ball lightning? Or is it just an old favourite CG 'UFO' video effect?
Returning to the photos however, there seems to be a fairly simple explanation: the 'UFO' is just the reflection of a highway light pole in the car window (a common source for UFO misidentification). See the image below for comparison, and note the number of lights on the UFO:
OMG it's the Houston UFO!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/ViHNreLROG
— kails (@kailsconrey) August 12, 2014
This would neatly explain how the centre of the UFO seems to be 'transparent' - only the lights are showing up in the reflection. Look again at the image at the top of this post, considering whether it might be a reflection of a light on the window...
A guess for how things played out: 'UFO' noticed while driving in car, image posted to social media, gains momentum, post another photo, gets on local TV, friend creates a nice CG UFO video, post to social media, international media attention. Purely a guess though, so I welcome your thoughts.
(thanks for the heads-up Kat)
New York Magazine has a thought-provoking piece on the field of ufology and how it seems to be increasingly becoming a relic of bygone age, using the recent MUFON conference as a case example:
MUFON has been around for 45 years and the average age of those who ponied up $239 for the conference was way past that. Many of the presenters, most of them long-established figures on the scene (Stanton Friedman, the 79-year-old widely acknowledged dean of the field, had to cancel owing to a mild heart attack) were equally venerable, as were most of the subjects they discussed. Much talk focused on the genre’s greatest hits: the Betty and Barney Hill abduction account (1961), the Lonnie Zamora/Socorro, New Mexico sighting (1973), the Rendlesham Forest incident in the U.K. (1980), and, of course, Roswell, circa 1947.
...It is true that very little beyond a shadow of a doubt forensic proof of alien presence has come to light over the years, but there are a number of subsidiary reasons for the seeming twilight of the UFO moment. With voracious proliferation of vampires, New World Order conspiracies, and the unprecedented rise of evangelical Christianity, the simple flying disc from far, far away has become a quaint, almost nostalgic specter. The saucer may have been the post-war generation’s signifier of the strange, but even versions of the unknown outlive their usefulness.
It's not a new idea - I've read a number of discussions in the past decade that touch on the lack of quality sightings/encounters, and the dearth of honest, idealistic field investigators. What is to blame? The era of affordable CG effects? The proliferation of smart-phones making UFO stories less believable without photographic proof? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Link: The End of UFOs
Two of Australia's biggest UFO mysteries are in the news this week with new revelations; the 1966 Westall UFO landing, witnessed by hundreds of students and school staff, and the 1978 disappearance of pilot Fred Valentich. Both incidents will also be discussed at the Victorian UFO Action's 'Age of Reason' conference in Melbourne on September 6th. I've got my ticket, but I'm two friends short of making up the Lone Gunmen, so if you're interested in UFOs and honest research, come along.
In 1966, over 200 students, teachers, and locals in suburban Melbourne watched a UFO hover above a paddock, land, and take off again at lightning speed. Many of the witnesses were soon visited by military personnel (some wearing American uniforms) requesting they remain silent, nothing to see here, move along. Almost 50 years later, local researcher Keith Basterfield has discovered documents that may suggest the UFO was part of a secret program to monitor radiation fallout from the Maralinga atomic test grounds. Yep, you guessed it, the UFO was a high-altitude weather balloon.
The documents detail the HIBAL program, a joint US-Australian initiative monitoring atmospheric radiation levels using high-altitude balloons between 1960 and 1969. They also detail a runaway balloon, flight 292. “What is strikingly missing is a memo reporting on the actual four launches for April 1966, one of which was scheduled for 5 April 1966, the day before Westall. So we have no knowledge of where flight 292 went.”
I think Keith has a very solid argument, but a few questions remain. The launch location, Mildura, is 540km northwest of Melbourne. This would require certain weather conditions which (to my local knowledge) would be unusual in April. Witnesses describe the UFO landing and then taking off again in a northwesterly direction -- the direction from which the balloon was originally launched.
Another researcher Shane Ryan has been investigating the Westall case for many years, interviewing scores of witnesses, and producing an excellent documentary about the incident. Shane, and many witnesses, aren't quite convinced by Keith's theory. For an interesting discussion, definitely have a read of Keith's blog and the relevant comments.
Prolific Australian UFO researcher Bill Chalker has also been following Keith's work, so definitely bookmark Bill's blog and keep up to date on developments and discussions.
You can also read the original documentation for yourself at Keith's blog.
Keith strikes me as a very open-minded, honest researcher. By his own admission, this explanation is a working hypothesis, with many anomalies still to be explained. But the documents paint an intriguing picture, and it's a theory worth considering no matter how much we want to believe.
To commemorate the 1966 Westall UFO sighting, there is now a UFO-ET themed playground at the site where hundreds of witnesses saw a UFO land and take off. I haven't had a chance to visit the park yet, but when I do the local kids will have to wait their turn while I pretend I'm Ethan Hawke in Explorers.
The above photo is of an unidentified object, taken off Cape Otway 20 minutes before pilot Fred Valentich disappeared during a UFO encounter. Now a Victorian UFO Action group researcher has uncovered new information, a possible sighting by a farmer in South Australia who observed a plane matching Valentich's stuck to the side of a UFO.
The Fred Valentich UFO case is exceptional for the recorded radio transmission between Valentich and air traffic control. Valentich, an experienced pilot, was flying over Bass Strait, south of Melbourne, when he encounted a UFO. Contacting air traffic control, he gave a running commentary of the encounter before he completely disappeared. Neither Valentich or his plane has ever been found.
NASA scientist and UFO researcher Richard F. Haines investigated the Valentich case with the Victorian UFO Society's Paul Norman. They published an exhaustive report, concluding Valentich most likely crashed into the ocean. The UFOs reported by Valentich, and observed and photographed by other witnesses, remain a genuine mystery.
We sure live in interesting times. Advances in the processing power of commercial computers, combined with faster Internet connections and freely available content provided by public institutions, have prompted the emergence of the armchair space researcher: Individuals who are willing to commit all their free time scouring through thousands of images released by Nasa, taken by the satellites surveying the distant surface of Mars, as well as our own pockmarked natural satellite, the Moon.
One such individual, who goes by the handle Jasenko on Youtube, found a rather puzzling anomaly by using Google Moon: Something that resembles a gigantic human silhouette, casting a shadow over the lunar terrain. The image was subsequently posted on a video clip, through the channel of a guy using the alias wowforreeel. As of today, the video has received more than a million views on Youtube.
wowoforreeel included the coordinates one can use in the Google Moon program to find the anomaly --27°34'26.35"N 19°36'4.75"W-- and sure enough, after you type them it will take you to the location of the 'anomaly.'
But the first thing one realizes is that even with the total lack of scale, the distance marked by Google Moon would indicate this 'Man on the Moon' is impossibly large --hence why The Examiner decided to call it a 'Colossus'.
But the search of weird anomalies on the grainy archived photos released by Nasa goes way earlier than Google Moon, though: Ever since George Leonard published the book Somebody Else Is on the Moon in 1976 --which used to be nearly impossible to acquire, but now luckily a new reprinted version is available on Amazon [US] [UK]-- the idea that artificial constructs which could be discarded remnants left behind by some advanced alien expedition (or maybe even by our own human ancestors, following the hypothesis of long lost civilizations that reached a technological level comparable or superior to ours) has captivated the imagination of many UFO enthusiasts.
Through the association of James Sylvan & Richard Hoagland, features known as 'the Shard', 'the Cube' and 'the Castle' were popularized on even a larger scale, just when the world wide web was starting to spread its tendrils across the Earth.
Unfortunately, Hoagland's more recent work has caused many to wonder whether all the 'anomalies' he keeps finding littering the surface of Mars, are actually the result of Pareidolia & the will to believe...
But another researcher who has been studying lunar phenomena for several decades is Don Ecker, former head of research for UFO magazine, which used to be run by him & his wife Vickie. Back in November of 1995, Don interviewed a man named Vito Sacchari on his long-running radio show UFOs Tonight, and who had a fascinating story to say: Sacchari was a petrochemical engineer, and back in 1979 his employers asked him to act as a chaperone for one of their business clients, a man working for an American firm conducting oil exploration in Venezuela, and take care of him while he was visiting them in Houston.
This man had read Leonard's book, and was very interested in finding out if there was any truth to it, so for the next 3 weeks he & Sacchari tried any trick they could come up with to try to gain access to the original Nasa lunar photos. According to Sacchari, their perseverance paid off, and what they ultimately found was, in every possible sense, out of this world:
Vito: The great majority of what we saw looked like excavation-type or construction activity. Coming from the petrochemical industry, we were familiar with building refineries. In the photos, there were pipelines, pipe fittings, what looked like construction equipment. I can’t say these were comparable to a bulldozer, but it was earth-moving, or moon-moving type of equipment. These things really were huge! The back of the photos had correlating data that would enable you to calculate the sizes of structures in the photos: height, sun angle and so forth. It was simple high school trigonometry to figure it out. But you can’t do that in your head! We didn’t have paper, pencils or calculators. We had to take Leonard’s word for the size of these things. We saw cracks in the lunar surface, like the Grand Canyon, with bridges spanning them, several miles apart. We saw large rectangular structures filling the insides of circular craters, that looked like they were under construction or very ancient. We saw pipelines running over crater rims.
Don Ecker: Were the craters named?
Vito: I believe so, but there were so many of them, and we couldn’t copy them down. I can’t remember from 16 years ago. Believe me, there was no way not to see these things. There were many of what Leonard called “X-drones” in these photos. It reminded us of a circular saw, shaped like an “X.”
You can listen to this amazing interview in its entirety, by clicking here.
So even though the 'lunar giant' image were to be explained away as a digital aberration or some other trivial explanation, that doesn't mean we should close ourselves to the possibility that sometime in the future, future lunar colonists could find an artifact of unknown origin buried under the powdery regolith, just as the Brookings report alerted to Nasa in 1960.
It also remains to be seen if the irruption of private interests in space exploration would allow us to have more cameras pointed at the Moon, along with drones & other forms of robotic telepresence. Maybe it will be Elon Musk --instead of Dr. Heywood Floyd-- the first man to put ever his gloved hands on the slick surface of an alien sentinel.
...Or maybe, just maaaybe, what we discover on the Moon will be far more fabulous than a boring black monolith.
- Biblioteca Pleyades: Somebody Else Is on the Moon
- Don Ecker: Long saga of lunar anomalies
- Don Ecker: The time to ask again … Is somebody else on the moon?
Following the suggestions of one of our members, I went back to Google Moon, rotated the image 90° to the right:
I then decided to rotate it another 90°, so now we have completely switched the image upside-down:
From this POV, the 'colossal shadow' looks more like a crack or rift on a side of the mound. The most likely explanation for the anomaly, IMO. Thanks to WriterSP for his input.