Friday, April 7, 2017

Satellites Flash and Flare


Here is my photo of a brilliant "Iridium flare," a reflection of sunlight from the Iridium 58 satellite, seen from very close to the center line of the reflection. Maximum brightness was magnitude -8, far brighter than Venus ever gets. This is about as bright as any satellite ever gets. In this photo it looks like a meteor, but it moves much more slowly.The satellite, seen here moving southward through Leo, was recorded during the full 24 second exposure. A meteor would cover that angle in less than a second. The bright star just right of top center is Regulus. Denebola is near the bottom left corner. These Iridium satellites are, I'm sure, the source of many dramatic-sounding UFO reports.


Iridium 58 flares to magnitude -8, seen from Lakeside, CA, April 4, 2017.
Of course, not all satellites flare up like this. Most satellites keep a relatively even brightness as they cross the sky. Some old, out-of-service satellites are tumbling, and appear bright-dim-bright at regular intervals. But only the iridium satellites produce such dramatic, relatively brief flares:
Each Iridium has three mirror-like antennas about the size of a door. Unlike the surfaces of other satellites, which are concave or not very reflective, Iridium antennas are flat, silver-coated Teflon panels. When sunlight hits at a certain angle, an Iridium casts a brilliant reflection up to 30 times brighter than Venus, reaching a patch on Earth of about 20 square miles.
http://articles.latimes.com/1998/nov/15/news/mn-42909
When I saw that the center of this small patch of maximum brilliance would be passing only 2 km away, I got my camera ready. And, we are now informed that the days of Iridium flares will soon be coming to an end. The old generation of iridium satellites will be retired, and the new generation will not produce these brilliant flares.
The best place to find out about what satellites are visible when is at http://www.heavens-above.com/ . Here you will find routines that tell you when and where to observe satellites, eclipses, planets, comets - pretty much anything interesting in the sky (except UFOs. It doesn't yet have a routine for that). Just go to Heavens Above and create a free account. Tell it the location of where you observe. I have several different observing locations, and I can select any one when I want to obtain data. Among the most interesting features you will find:
  • Iridium Flares. For the next seven days.Click on each one to get a sky map showing its location.
  • Daily Predictions of brighter satellites. You can choose whether to see only the brighter ones, or the much longer list of faint ones. Click on each one to get a sky map showing its path across the sky.
  • Planets positions at any given time.
  • Bright Comets and Asteroids currently visible, with sky maps to locate each one. 
  • And much more!
If you see something in the sky that you can't identify, and you don't even check Heavens-Above.com to compare its position with known objects at that time, then you're not really serious about trying to identify it.  One fellow spoke at a UFO meeting I was attending about bright objects he was observing crossing the sky. I said that the next time he sees something he needs to record the exact time of his observation, and the object's path across the sky, then compare that with the satellite data at Heavens-Above.com. He replied that he didn't want to do this, this would somehow spoil the atmosphere of the sighting. I suspect that many people feel like that - why spoil an exciting air of mystery with cold, unfeeling facts?

Sky map of an Iridium satellite flare from Heavens-Above.com
If an object you sight does not appear on this list, that does not mean it's an alien spacecraft. The orbital elements of classified military satellites are, well, classified, and hence those satellites won't appear on this list. The reason is that we don't want hostile actors to know the exact time at which we will be surveying them. There is also a considerable uncertainty in the brightness of satellites. Since there are thousands of objects in orbit, one typically requests to see listings only of the brighter ones. Suppose you generate a list of satellite passes predicted to be magnitude 3 or brighter (smaller numbers are brighter). Suppose one satellite predicted to be magnitude 3 actually shows up at magnitude 5, because of sun angle or some other factor, and hence much more difficult to see in a light-polluted sky. You'll chalk it up as a no-show, but it was there - just faint.

If you want to read some observations by some of the world's top satellite observers see  the SeeSat mailing list , the world's leading forum for expert discussion of satellite observations and satellite orbits. Some of these investigations involved observations of classified military satellites, about which little is known to the public.

Ted Molczan is one of the best-known and most-respected civilian authorities on observing and identifying satellites in earth orbit. He is a leading contributor to See-Sat L. Molczan showed that the "classic" Yukon UFO of 1996, proclaimed one of the "Top Ten" UFO cases of all time, was in fact the reentry of the Russian rocket booster that placed the Cosmos 2335 satellite into orbit earlier that day.

Molczan has compiled what is intended to be a complete list of all satellite and space debris re-entries that have been observed and recorded, and he keeps the list updated. The list is in chronological order. If you are investigating a UFO sighting, this list will enable you to check it against all known observations of space junk falling back to earth.








Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The "Battle of Los Angeles" - A First-Hand Account


There was a lot said at the recent International UFO Congress near Phoenix, Arizona, about the supposed "Battle of Los Angeles" on the night of February 24-25, 1942, when many rounds of anti-aircraft shells were fired at - what
The heavily-retouched photo of the incident that was published in the Los Angeles Times. The white dots are fragments from exploding shells.

David Marler at the 2014 UFO Congress
David Marler, a diligent researcher, has accumulated an impressive collection of photos, newspaper stories, and other materials concerning the incident. I reviewed his talk at the Congress in a recent posting  (also see the comments section). His conclusion is that something unusual was up there, but he doesn't know what.

But for a different take on the matter, let us examine a first-hand account of the "battle" written by Col. John G. Murphy, who not only witnessed the shelling, but participated in an official investigation of the incident. Serious researchers realize that, the closer in time is an account to the event it describes, the more likely it is to be accurate.

Col. Murphy wrote, "We interrogated approximately 60 witnesses - civilians, Army, Navy and Air commissioned and enlisted personnel... Roughly about half the witnesses were sure they saw planes in the sky." Given that no planes were ever sent up - not ours nor any Japanese - here we see another example that cautions us against taking "eyewitness accounts" at face value.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Antiaircraft Journal

published by the United States Coast Artillery Association

Vol. LXXXXII No. 3. May/June, 1949 page 4



L.A. "Attacked"

by Col. John G. Murphy, CAC

There were no enemy air attacks on the West Coast. There were two submarine attacks by gunfire-one on Ft. Stevens, Oregon, and one on some oil docks north of Los Angeles. However there were many alerts, many blackouts. many alarms, and the antiaircraft troops were always in a pertinent condition of readiness. Prior to the battle of Midway there was a distinct tenseness all along the West Coast. We believed the Jap would attack Midway, but we also knew he could change his plans and attack any of the important cities of the West Coast. AA troops during this period were ready for any action. They were always ready for action, albeit sometimes overready or maybe even gullible-as was shown by the famous "Battle of Los Angeles." On Feb 26, 1942, the author was on a Staff visit to the 37th Brigade. Sometime after midnight I was awakened by the sound of gunfire. A quick glance through the window was not productive of any enlightening information. A quick trip to the roof of the hotel brought reward for the upward toil. It was a beautiful moonlight night, but the moon's magnificence was dwarfed by the brilliant glare of nineties and three-inchers spewing fire to the heavens, the glare and noise of the bursting shells, the delicate sky tracery of red and green forty-millimeters and fifty-calibers arching lazily through the skies, and the brilliant incandescence of the searchlights probing the heavens, hither and yon-up and down.



A beautiful picture - a grand show! But at what were they firing? Imagination could have easily disclosed many shapes in the sky in the midst of that weird symphony of noise and color. But cold detachment disclosed no planes of any type in the sky-friendly or enemy. And suddenly all was quiet and only the light of the moon relieved the grim picture of a city in total blackout. I lingered on the roof, ruminated on what it was all about and was idly wondering if I could find my way to brigade headquarters through the blackout when all hell broke loose again. A cacophony of sound and a glaring brilliance again pervaded all! But soon it was over and quiet and darkness again descended on the awakened city. On my way to brigade headquarters next morning, screaming headlines in the morning papers told of the many Jap planes brought down in flames. At brigade headquarters there was much gloom. No one knew exactly what had happened. Maj. Gen. Jacob Fickel and Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Samuel Kepner flew down from San Francisco and with the writer constituted a board to investigate the firing. We interrogated approximately 60 witnesses-civilians, Army, Navy and Air commissioned and enlisted personnel.



Roughly about half the witnesses were sure they saw planes in the sky. One flier vividly described 10 planes in V formation. The other half saw nothing. The elevation operator of an antiaircraft director looking through his scope saw many planes. His azimuth operator looking through a parallel scope on the same instrument did not see any planes. Among the facts developed was that the firing had been ordered by the young Air Force controller on duty at the Fighter Command operations room. Someone reported a balloon in the skv. He of course visualized a German or Japanese zeppelin. Someone tried to explain it was not that kind of balloon, but he was adamant and ordered firing to start (which he had no authority to do). Once the firing started, imagination created all kinds of targets in the sky and everyone joined in. Well after all these years, the true story can be told. One of the AA Regiments (we still had Regiments) sent up a meteorological balloon about 1:00 AM. That was the balloon that started all the shooting! When quiet had settled down on the "embattled" City of the Angels, a different regiment, alert and energetic as always. decided some "met" data was needed. Felt it had not done so well in the "battle" and thought a few weather corrections might help. So they sent up a balloon, and hell broke loose again. (Note: Both balloons, as I remember, floated away majestically and safely.) But the inhabitants of Los Angeles felt very happy. They had visual and auricular assurance that they were well protected. And the AA gunners were happy! They had fired more rounds than they would have been authorized to fire in 10 peacetime years' target practices.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"Ken's Moon" Comes Crashing Down

"Dr." Ken Johnston is a very colorful character. He represents himself as a former "civilian astronaut," "astronaut trainer," and "NASA Scientist," although he was none of those things. He tells all kinds of wild tales about 'alien structures on the moon' supposedly found in NASA photos that are airbrushed out of the photos that NASA releases, keeping the aliens hidden from public view (although Ken supposedly has the unretouched photos showing the alien bases).

In fact, Ken now claims, after hypnotic regression, that ETs "trained him" to make disclosures of ET presence not only on the Moon, but also on Mars: "ASTRONAUT WHISTLEBLOWER KEN JOHNSTON REVEALS HOW ETS TRAINED HIM TO DISCLOSE UNTOUCHED NASA PHOTOS OF OPERATING MOONBASES AND ANCIENT RUINS ON MARS LONG BEFORE ARMSTRONG ARRIVED."

Ken is photoshopped into astronaut Michael Collins' space suit for a little Cosplay
In early February, 2017,  Ken went to India to speak at several science organizations. Here he seems to have represented himself as an actual astronaut. On February 12, the Indian newspaper The Hindu carried the story, "NASA astronaut visits BM Birla Science Centre."


 "A test astronaut, who is also chief trainer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America, Ken Johnston was bowled over by the enthusiasm that hundreds of students showed during a visit to the B.M. Birla Science Centre here on Saturday."
Perhaps Ken was thinking that being thousands of miles distant from the U.S. would result in "what happens in India, stays in India." Not a good assumption in this Age of the Internet!  
 
At the UFO Congress, 2017
Ken returned from India to the U.S. to speak at the International UFO Congress near Phoenix, Arizona (which I attended) on February 19. His talk was "Exclusive NASA Photos of Alien Bases on the Moon," with his colleague Bret Sheppard. (Sheppard's major contribution is  to have found a giant UFO in photos of the surface of Mars,  in addition to those pesky alien bases on the moon.)

As has been my recent custom, I reviewed the talks at the Congress, including his. I also contacted space writer and skeptic James Oberg, who I knew had been tracking and refuting Ken's wild claims. The resulting review was highly damaging to Ken's credibility:
  •  Ken has a "Doctor of Metaphysics" diploma from a diploma mill, not an actual school. It does not have a campus, or instructors, or offer courses. Just diplomas. He was never an "astronaut trainer," or "scientist," let alone any kind of astronaut.
  •  Ken claims that he projected for a group of NASA scientists a 16mm film from Apollo 14, showing a pentagonal cluster of alien domes in the crater Tsiolkovsky. The scientists made knowing comments about the bases. Within 24 hours, NASA had altered the film, removing the alien bases.
  • Johnston says that "professional debunker" James Oberg was wrong in claiming that Apollo 14 never filmed the Tsiolkovsky crater, and claims to have documents to prove it. Oberg replies that Apollo 14 never filmed Tsiolkovsky with its 16mm movie camera, which is what Johnston claims to have seen, although the Apollo 14 astronauts did photograph Tsiolkovsky late in the mission using a hand-held still camera.
Within a few days of that being published, emails were circulating among some of the more 'serious' UFOlogists associated with the UFO Congress concerning Ken's credentials and background. For some reason, the job of defending Ken's background fell not to Ken himself, but to his colleague Bret Sheppard. (Perhaps it was because Ken was on his way to India.) Sheppard's defense of Ken's bogus "PhD" was so absurd that it made matters worse. I am genuinely impressed that Alejandro Rojas of Open Minds Productions (organizer of the International UFO Congress) and others were concerned with Ken's misrepresentations. If a speaker comes to the UFO Congress and spins absurd tales about government UFO conspiracies, that's basically OK. Everyone expects that. But if a speaker comes and represents himself as something he is not, then this reflects badly on the UFO Congress, and they are right to be concerned.
  
 At the end of Ken's talk at the Congress, he said, "tomorrow I leave for India." However, this time the result of his trip would be very different from the fawning enthusiasm he received the last time.

Ken is Kicked out of India

 
February 7, 2017: On his first trip to India, the pretend astronaut lectures at Hindustan University

As explained on the Blog The Emoluments of Mars,
It seems that James Oberg was annoyed enough by Ken's imposturing in India that he informed NASA, who in turn informed the State Department that someone was posing as an astronaut and "chief trainer at NASA." Quicker than you can say "Glass domes on the Moon," Ken became persona non grata and was quite firmly asked to go home last Saturday. 
As reported in The Telegraph of Calcutta, March 7, 2017:
Guwahati/New Delhi, March 6: An Assam government science agency has found itself embroiled in a row kicked up by a former NASA associate who was invited to attend a conference here but was sent back the day he arrived.

Ralph Kennedy Johnston Sr, who says he was formerly associated with the US space agency's Apollo lunar missions, has complained to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Assam Science Technology and Environmental Council (Astec) "deported" him without giving him a chance to defend himself.

Johnston, in a letter to the Prime Minister's Office, has said he had attended educational meetings in Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore and had been listed as a "distinguished speaker" at a conference in Guwahati on February 28, National Science Day.

But when he reached Guwahati on February 25, Johnston wrote, he was allegedly sent back to New Delhi the same day by Astec organisers. "I was sent to New Delhi without even being given a chance to defend myself. I had to purchase my own ticket back to the US for over $1,200, even though I had been brought to India (Assam) and had been promised airfare home," Johnston alleged.
It looks like the Space Chickens have finally come home to roost.

No wonder Ken's hosts in India were upset - they are stuck with this embarrassment.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Skeptical Look at the 2017 UFO Congress - Part 5 (last)


Paul Stonehill
Paul Stonehill spoke on UFOs and USOs in Russia and the USSR. For some reason, USOs (Unidentified Submerged Objects) were popular this year, mentioned by several speakers. Both UFOs and USOs have been spotted by the Soviet Navy. Some USOs, he said, have been spotted on the same day as an earthquake.

Nanotechnology found in the Ural Mountains, he said, goes back 100,000 years to ancient aliens. Then he presented a long, tedious list of UFO sightings reported in Russia and the USSR, including Cosmonaut UFOs.

"Dr." Ken Johnston Sr. presented "Exclusive NASA Photos of Alien Bases on the Moon," with his colleague Brett Shepherd. He represents himself as a former "civilian astronaut" and "NASA Scientist," but in reality he was hired by NASA contractor Grumman as an assistant electrician to check the wiring in the Lunar Module. He also worked as a projectionist for NASA's photo lab. He was never an "astronaut trainer," let alone any kind of astronaut. As for that "PhD," Ken has a "Doctor of Metaphysics" diploma from something calling itself The Reform Baptist Theological Seminary in Denver. This is not an actual school. It is not accredited in any way. It does not have a campus, or instructors, or offer courses. Just diplomas.


Thornton Page and James Oberg at NASA, 1978.
Johnston said that while he was working as a projectionist for Dr. Thornton Page and other scientists at NASA in Houston,  he projected a 16mm film from Apollo 14, showing a pentagonal cluster of alien domes in the crater Tsiolkovsky (which is on the moon's far side, and never visible from earth). He claimed that Page and the other scientists made some knowing comments when they saw this - they all knew about the supposed alien bases. Within 24 hours, NASA had altered the film, removing the alien bases. In fact, he claims to have met people in NASA's photo lab whose job it is to paint over alien artifacts. Apparently it's an occupation that keeps them quite busy.

Johnston portrayed Page as a rabid UFO debunker, but that is not accurate. Dr. Page was mostly of the same mind as Dr. J. Allen Hynek. For example, Page wrote, "UFO sightings show some statistical patterns that can be fitted to a theory based on the hypothesis of "extraterrestrial civilizations which know far more physics than we do, and have developed materials, energy sources, and field devices that we have not yet invented." " (See the photo I took in 1978 of Thornton Page and James Oberg, caught in the act destroying UFO information at NASA).

Johnston says that "professional debunker" James Oberg was wrong in claiming that Apollo 14 never filmed the Tsiolkovsky crater, and claims to have documents to prove it. Oberg replies that Apollo 14 never filmed Tsiolkovsky with its 16mm movie camera, which is what Johnston claims to have seen, although the Apollo 14 astronauts did photograph Tsiolkovsky late in the mission using a hand-held still camera. 

Shepherd explained how we were "warned off" from the moon by aliens, which is why Apollo 18, 19, and 20 were canceled. He showed a list of possible ET types, including Nordics, Valiant Thor, Interdimensionals, etc.

Johnston said that he brought 250 copies of his book Ken's Moon to the UFO Congress, and sold them all. He remarked, "tomorrow I leave for India." Actually, he had been in India a short time before, and was returning. While in India, Johnston seems to be representing himself as a real astronaut. If you've seen a photo of Johnston in a space suit, the suit belongs to astronaut Michael Collins. Ken borrowed it for a bit of Cosplay.

Panel: "The Future of Abduction Research," or, "Venting." Kathleen Marden is upset because the media misrepresent the fact that Barney Hill had conscious recollections of Beings, and not just hypnotically-regressed memories. In fact, she is quite angry about that. Yvonne Smith said similar things, but more in sadness than in anger.

Marden said that abduction cases are less evidence-based than before. We have less evidence today, no good abductions (deserted-road type). Just people being abducted in their beds. [Thanks, Budd Hopkins]. These two ladies are not happy campers. Since this panel was the last event, I didn't stay to hear them whine to the bitter end, and started home.

I should have mentioned earlier that in the "Meet the Speakers" event on the first evening, rocker Tom de Longe, formerly of Blink 182, was awarded the "Researcher of the Year" award for his work in promoting 'UFO disclosure.' He has reportedly conferred with several high-ranking military officials who want to coordinate the release of supposed UFO secrets. One of them allegedly told him, "We found a life form." Some of De Longe's emails about UFOs were found in the Wikileaks release of John Podesta's emails.

De Longe was not able to attend the Congress to accept his award, but he submitted a short acceptance video. (Open Minds has now placed this award video, and De Long's acceptance of it, on its YouTube channel.) In it he explained how he did his research, staying up all night for twenty years reading books on Roswell, Serpo, etc, and so, he said, I now know it all. (This is what passes for "research" in UFOlogy: listening to Coast to Coast AM, and reading conspiracy-oriented books.) He said that there is "big shit" coming, a big announcement in about sixty days. (Thirteen of those days have now passed. His deadline is about April 15.). He hinted that on its surface the announcement might not seem all that dramatic, but if you study it with your knowledge of UFOlogy, you will understand its significance.


On the Way Home - The UFO Motel in Gila Bend, Arizona.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Skeptical Look at the 2017 UFO Congress - Part 4


Ben Hansen: The former host of Fact or Faked presented an "Analysis of Recent Presidential UFO Comments." He mostly dealt with the body language of presidents and presidential candidates on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, when asked about the government and UFOs. 70% of communication, he said, is non-verbal. Drawing upon his background in law enforcement, and using techniques that investigators typically use in crime investigations, Hansen analyzed body language and gestures to try to divine what the subjects really are thinking.

The big guy, Ben Hansen, with yours truly (2016 UFO Congress).
Hansen found that former president Clinton displayed "significant apprehension" when Kimmel asked him about aliens, although the cause of that apprehension is, he emphasized, unknown. When President Obama was asked a similar question by Kimmel, he displayed extremely rapid breathing, about four times the normal resting rate. Obama said "I can't reveal anything," which is "no actual denial" of aliens, according to Hansen. When Kimmel asked Hillary Clinton about aliens, she said that she wants to look into that question again, implying that the question has significance and has not be properly answered. Hansen noted that Hillary's choice of John Posesta, a well-known UFO believer, as her campaign manager was a risky move for Hillary, as it could open her up to potential embarrassment over his UFO pronouncements.

Hansen reached no firm conclusions, but this exercise was a lot of fun.

Richard Dolan spoke on Media Bias in UFO Coverage. "The mainstream media is not your friend," he said. The mainstream media literally "makes us sick." While we can probably all agree that media bias is something very real, each medium to its own bias, I wouldn't go as far as that.
Richard Dolan

Dolan reviewed some examples of media coverage of flying saucers in the 1940s and 50s, illustrating what he called "the ridicule factor." He told how the National Enquirer began serious coverage of UFO incidents in the 1970s. The paper's owner, Generoso Pope, had worked  in Psi Ops, or psychological warfare, with the CIA in the 1950s.

The New York Times, he said, publishes CIA and Air Force "disinformation." But, according to Dolan, the mainstream media is influenced by more than just the CIA. "Control is international." (By whom? The Illuminati?)


Somebody was displaying outdoors supposed '5,000 year old artifacts' allegedly found in graves in Mexico. I'm quite sure they are of much more recent vintage than that, especially given the alien motifs.


Col. Charles Halt
Col. Charles Halt (ret.) spoke on "Bentwaters Revisited". He repeated his usual claims, some of which we saw in the panel the previous day. He claims that he saw three triangular nocturnal light UFOs from the Air Traffic Control tower. He said the object they saw was red, and the Orford Ness lighthouse does not shine red light onto land. (This is in reference to the hypothesis that what they saw at one particular time in the forest was, in fact, the rotating beam of the distant lighthouse. For a full explanation of this, see Ian Ridpath's Rendlesham pages.) Halt made certain that we knew that airman Larry Warren is lying in his rival version of Rendlesham UFO events, repeating this a number of times.


Dr. Erling Strand is the director of Project Hessdalen in Norway, where people reportedly see all manner of strange light phenomena, especially at night. ("dalen" is pronounced like "dalek", so it's like Hess-dalek).  Many of these lights appear to hug the mountain ridge-line, or the horizon, suggesting they could be phenomena of meteorological optics, mirages and such. Others are the usual wiggly-camera blurfos, and some frankly suggest that some of the local folks are doing their best to give the sky watchers something to look at.
Dr. Erling Strand

Strand founded Project Hessdalen in 1983 to study the phenomenon, and they have been at it ever since. I thought to myself, they have been studying this thing diligently for thirty-four years, and haven't gotten to the bottom of it yet? They are studying the alleged phenomenon with cameras, diffraction gratings, and other equipment, measuring, and recording the objects. About the only thing they didn't seem to be doing was using telescopes or binoculars to get a better look at them. Now they have a "science camp" at Hessdalen each summer, as students (and others) gather to see and phototograph the lights.
The most famous of the Hessdalen photos, caused by a moving, wiggly camera? French investigator Dominique Caudron suggests that "this pseudo trajectory is only a shake effect, which reaches nearly 10 °"

Later I spoke with Dr. Strand, asking him if the Hessdalen Project has any telescopes, or binoculars. Yes, we have them, he replied, but we don't use them much. It's too hard to keep the objects in view when they keep moving. (Not so hard if you use binoculars, though.) I reminded him that he had shown us a photo of an 'anomalous' object (looking to me like a mirage image of a very distant mountain peak) that was visible for four hours. To me it is inconceivable that a supposedly anomalous object could just hover in plain view for hours at a time, and no "researcher" puts a telescope on it. Other objects reportedly remained still, or moved slowly, for many minutes. Dr. Strand was not interested in discussing the matter further. I was left with the suspicion that Strand and his crew do not want this "mystery" to be explained, for then the excitement would be over.

James Fox
James Fox spoke on "the Phoenix Lights After 20 years." Much of what Fox said in his talk was a repeat of what he had said in the earlier Phoenix Lights panel, especially concerning Governor Symington, so I won't repeat it here. Joining him were two women who had witnesed the 'flying triangle,' and they spoke at length on their recollections of it, and their reactions to it. 

Fox said he was told, by somebody who presumably was in a position to know, that "We went to Defcon 3" that night. In other words, that the Phoenix Lights UFOs triggered U.S. air defenses to a war-ready state, which is quite absurd. There would have been enormous consequences following such a development, instead of the several-month "yawn" until UFO enthusiasts could build up sufficient interest in this incident to get the media reporting it. Fox noted that this incident was the same night that President Clinton seriously injured his knee while visiting golfer Greg Norman in Florida.  He speculated that perhaps, because of the alleged Defcon emergency, the Secret Service was in such a hurry to rush the president off to a safe place that he was injured in the process?

Fox and others kept mentioning queries about the incident made to Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, which denied having any planes in the air at the time. They were telling the truth. All of the planes involved in the Phoenmix Lights incidents, the triangle and the flare drop, were Air National Guard planes from Operation Snowbird, flying out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. The Air Force and the Air National Guard have completely different command structures, and neither knows much about what the other is doing.

                                                               (more)




Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Skeptical Look at the 2017 UFO Congress - Part 3


David Marler
David Marler: The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of L.A. This incident, he says, introduced the term "flying saucer" in 1942, five years before Kenneth Arnold. This was just two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and 36 hours after a Japanese submarine surfaced and fired on an oil terminal near Santa Barbara (doing minimal dmamge). Further Japanese attacks were expected along the west coast, and "hysteria was
definitely a component." But, Marler said, we cannot necessarily dismiss the entire incident because of this.

Marler's collection of  newspaper headlines.
On the night of Feb. 24-25, 1942, an unidentified radar target came in from the northwest. Authorities quickly ordered a blackout, and started shelling. No planes were sent up. The familiar version of the photograph showing converging spotlights was heavily retouched. Marler has found what appears to be the original negative of that photo. It is much less densely exposed than the retouched photo, but does not clearly show any object.

Marler's working hypothesis: a single unidentified aerial object flew over the Los Angeles region. I might agree, if that object were a balloon. Marler ruled out a balloon, on the grounds that it would have been destroyed by shrapnel from all the shells fired at it. But that assumes that the object was actually in the crosshairs where the shells were fired.


Stanton Friedman
No UFO conference would be complete without Stanton Friedman, today speaking on Astronomy Versus UFOlogy.  Astronomers, he complained, ignore "large scale scientific studies," like Blue Book Special Report 14 (his favorite). He presented some well-known scientific blunders, such as statements that 'space travel is impossible.' Friedman claimed that interstellar travel using nuclear fusion propulsion is perfectly plausible. He maintained that scientific critics of the viability of interstellar travel, such as the late Nobel prize winning physicist Edward Purcell, "didn't know anything about space travel," although Purcell's objections are based in fundamental physics. Friedman also threw his usual punches at SETI - the "silly effort to investigate."

He showed Marjorie Fish's interpretation of Betty Hill's UFO star map without any disclaimer, even though its pretense of significance has now been completely refuted. He recommended the UFO research of Kathleen Marden and Linda Moulton Howe (!!!!).
Greg Bishop

Greg Bishop: The Co-Creation Hypothesis - A Fresh Approach to UFO Research. Bishop discussed the role of our minds in constructing what we see. "What causes UFO reports?" Our memories are reconstructions, not faithful images. Our mind fills in what we expect to see.

I'm not clear about what is supposed to be "fresh" here. He seems to be advocating a position similar to what British Forteans call the Psycho-Social Hypothesis. Throw in a touch of John Keel, Gray Barker, and Jacques Vallee, and Bishop seems to be walking a well-trod path.


John Alexander
Col. John B. Alexander (ret.) spoke on "UFO Encounters:  More Complex than We Imagine." He was very big on the Chris Bledsoe case, an alleged abductee who films orbs all the time, and now apparently has not only been miraculously cured of Crohn's disease by ETs, but has also "healed" others. Alexander was especially impressed by the fact that, talking with Bledsoe outdoors one evening, the "abductee" said he felt the ETs are here now. They looked up, and within about 30 seconds, a bright object was seen to flash across the sky. Later I suggested to Alexander that this impressive demonstration could have been arranged in advance, if Bledsoe had looked on-line to get the time that a brilliant flare from an Iridium satellite would be visible from that location. He didn't buy that.

Alexander repeated his theme that "disclosure has already happened," citing vague statements from various world leaders about ETs. Government employees can talk about UFOs, and nothing happens to them. In his view, the government knows that ETs are real, but it knows nothing can be done about them, and it has more urgent problems to worry about, anyway. So government ignores them.

The Roswell incident, he said, was caused by a Project Mogul spy balloon. There is no evidence of ET technology being used anywhere in any nation's space program.

Panel, Government and UFOs:  The usual suspects repeated the usual things.

Charles Halt repeated his claim that after the Rendlesham forest incident, Air Force agents came in and drugged the witnesses, changing their memories.

When the matter was raised of "missing files" concerning Rendlesham, or Roswell, John Alexander noted that many U.S. government agencies are required to report bi-annually on the linear feet of files they have destroyed. Given the mandate of purging old files, he says it is no surprise that many old government files cannot be found.
The night vision skywatch (from 2013 Congress).
Night Vision Skywatch: Once again, Ben Hansen, formerly the host of Fact or Fake: Paranormal Files on the SyFy channel, presented an outdoor public viewing using night vision cameras, projecting on giant screens. The weather was not very cooperative, there were a lot of clouds. The wind was so strong (a rainstorm was coming) one of the screens blew over several times. But we managed to see a few satellites go by, and a bird or bat or two. Ben did pretty well keeping the presentation on solid ground, emphasising that you will be seeing lots of satellites, birds, bats, airplanes, even moths, so don't assume it's aliens when you see something moving. But he left open the door to the possibility that you might see something truly extraordinary, which is why people would buy these expensive devices costing $2,000 and up. My advice: save your money, and buy a really good pair of binoculars, say 10x50. Night vision devices trade resolution for sensitivity. In binoculars you will be able to see everything these devices can see, and with much better resolution.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Skeptical Look at the 2017 UFO Congress - Part 2


Alejandro Rojas
Conference host Alejandro Rojas delivered his own talk about ETs and Religion. He cited examples of what appear to be discussions of alien beings in various world religions, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Native American beliefs, Mormons, Nation of Islam, Scientology, Raelism, and Heavens Gate. 

He referred to Ted Peters' survey of religious attitudes toward extraterrestrial beings, presented at the UFO Congress in 2014. Practically nobody said that the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligent beings would pose a problem for their religious faith.

Erika Lukes
Erika Lukes, formerly MUFON state director for Utah, is now head of a new group, Unexplained Utah. She said her interest in UFOs began when she had a series of sightings in the Salt Lake Valley. There are many important sightings in Utah, she said, and many top-secret military sites. "All of the ley lines in the world" converge right here in the Mormon Temple. She seemed not to realize that "ley lines" are complete nonsense.

Her best case was apparently the American Airlines 434 radar-visual case, which occurred over Utah on January 14, 2016. Tim Printy looked into it in his E-Zine SUNlite (scroll down to p. 6), and noted that "the radar data is not a match and can not be used as confirmation that the 'bright orange square' was an airborne object." So there was apparently no "flying object" involved, and no radar detection of it.

Now, she believes, UFOs are "the most important subject we will ever deal with." She says that night vision optics are very important in UFO investigation (I disagree, as will be discussed later), as is a device called MADAR III to measure geomagnetic anomalies.

Bob Davis
Dr. Bob Davis serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Research Team of the Dr. Edgar Mitchell Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial Encounters (FREE). His talk was, "A Study on Individuals who Report UFO Related Contact Experiences with a Non-Human Intelligent Being."

He found that 83% of those who reported ET contact said that it had changed their lives in a positive way. 95% of them report having "paranormal" experiences. He showed a chart illustrating the "Quantum Hologram (QH) Resonance" theory of consciousness, which includes everything from the Collective Unconscious to Remote Viewing, Telekinesis, Reincarnation, Oneness, Wholeness, all the way to "peace with the universe." UFOs, he explained, have a "psycho-spiritual" dimension. (Here is an interesting interview with Davis.)

Kathleen Marden talked about "Perplexing Phenomena." She has experienced weird phenomena all her life. A UFO landed within 500 feet of her house in 1966 (five years after her aunt Betty Hill was allegedly abducted). After that, weird things began to happen: poltergeist, orbs, "apports" from thin air, "bed walking": the sensation that something is walking across your bed, which she says 65% of "experiencers" report. Also, "shape shifters" and "shadow people." She showed an "actual photograph of shadow entity." Unfortunately, it was dark and shadowy, without detail.
Stanton Freidman with Kathleen Marden at the 2015 UFO Congress
Marden has been receiving reports from a man named Melvon, who works at a small airport. His supposed UFO video, showing an object pulsing and getting larger and smaller, is nothing more than the autofocus of the video camera trying to focus in on a distant light - without success. Melvon has been reporting seeing entities with faces of a man, or a goat. He also reports experiencing "time shifts."  In one such incident, he saw elephants walking across the savannah, at his airport. Actually, he believes the animals to have been wooly mammoths.

Phoenix Lights 20th Anniversary Panel: Dr. Lynne Kitei is now a full-time promoter of the Phoenix Lights. She told how she and others had seen the  famous lights on several other occasions. A mile-wide object was sighted covering Las Vegas. People are seeing triangular craft, and also circular ones. Ten different kinds of craft were seen. One object was eight miles across. She said she is now working on a Phoenix Lights coloring book. Delightful!

UFO expert-on-everything Richard Dolan stated that the Maryland Air National Guard absolutely did not drop flares on the night of March 13, 1997.  Lt. Col. Ed Jones of the Maryland Air National Guard, who piloted one of the four A-10s in the squadron that launched the flares, would disagree.

Jim Mann of Phoenix MUFON said we can't say that the Phoenix Lights were extraterrestrial, only that they were an "anomaly," an unknown. It isn't flares, or airplanes in formation.

James Fox told how he interviewed former Arizona governor Fife Symington, who belatedly "confessed" to having seen the lights ten years earlier, a dramatic reversal of his previous disparagement of the "lights". When Fox was a speaker at the 2013 UFO Congress, I spoke with him and explained why it is obvious that Symington is lying, and simply made up his sighting:
 I reminded Fox that Symington claimed to have seen news coverage of the lights on TV, then went outside to look. He says he walked down to where the news crews had been filming the lights (the flare drop), and then saw the V-shape fly over, big and mysterious. However, there was no news coverage of the sightings before the planes landed about 8:45, and there could have been nobody filming the "lights" prior to 10:00, because the flares had not yet been dropped. Therefore Symington's claimed sighting occurred after 10:00, probably well after, and hence is an obvious fabrication. "No, he saw it at 8:20. It was 8:20," Fox insisted. "How could he have seen news coverage of this by 8:20?", I asked. "Maybe he heard chatter on the radio or something," Fox said. "How could there have been news crews filming this by 8:20?", I asked? Fox was having no more of this conversation.

In 2017, Symington's story has changed again (or more likely, Fox changed it for him). As Fox explained in his own talk later, Symington was listening in on the scanner and heard about the lights. (We don't know that there was any discussion of the first incident on some unspecificed scanner channels, although we can't say that there wasn't. This removes the obvious timeline discrepancy in Symington's first "I saw it" statement, which was that he saw the news reports, and went out to where the news crews had been filming the lights. This would be much too late to see the "triangle.") Symington supposedly drove out to Camelback Mountain, where he saw them.

In response to a question, Fox marvelled at Symington's abrupt change of heart on the subject:
I can't get it out of my mind. Earlier in the day he seemed so adamant, let's get to the bottom of it...it didn't seem like he was joking...let's find out what it was these people have seen, of course at that time not admitting the fact that he too had seen it.

But then that whole shift between that morning and that afternoon... I can't help but wonder, if he must have received a phone call. Something was going on that we're not privy to. So I asked him, did you receive a phone call from somebody? He said no. I don't know man, it's really kind of strange that he would do a 180 from the morning to the afternoon...
What "went on" was simply that Symington had decided to jump on the Phoenix Lights bandwagon, and invent a story about seeing them. Symington is an experienced liar (his conviction was later overturned on a technicality, but before he could be re-tried he was the lucky recipient of one of many undeserved pardons issued by the outgoing President Clinton).

The Registration Desk

Evening Film Festival: The first film was Robert Hasting's UFOs and Nukes, which claimed that UFOs have been menacing U.S. missile sites and taking the missiles off-line. For brevity, I will simply refer the reader to Tim Printy's in-depth critique of it (scroll down to page 7).

The second short film was something called Seek, basically a ten-minute rock video supposedly having something to do with love between a human and an alien.

Next was a full-length film called The Awakening of 12 Strands.
“Awakening of 12 Strands” is a story about ETs (including negative Reptilians), walk-ins, djinn, military, pharmaceuticals, nutrition, alchemy and more. Jasmine, who is the main character, is diagnosed with AIDS. This inspires her to undertake an unusual worldwide journey to awaken souls. The movie covers DNA issues and how Jasmine is effected by the events that unfold.

Think: European directors, symbolism, no obvious plot. The director Sandra Daroy says, "A MOVIE that NEEDS TO be WATCHED at least twice to see all details and clues." I only lasted about twenty minutes.