Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Venus, if you will...
It was all very innocent and unintended, mind you.
Occasionally, I get a call from a UFO witness who is absolutely convinced that what he or she saw was a giant spacecraft. Sometimes, the witnesses even think "they" are watching or monitoring them, often all night.
This was one of those instances.
A fellow in Flin Flon, Manitoba, called on January 20 to say that the previous evening, Monday, January 19, 2009, he had watched a brilliant UFO in the night sky. It seems that the same or similar object has been seen by him and others in the area for several weeks, always in the same place in the sky each night.
He said that on January 19, the bright object was already in the sky by 5:30 pm as the Sun went down, and it remained in the sky for several hours. He had approached other people that night and called it to their attention, and said they also thought it was something unusual.
I asked him if the object was in the South or West and he said yes, so I told him it is likely Venus, very prominent in the sky this month. He was taken aback. "There's no way this is Venus," he stated. "It's clearly a spacecraft in orbit."
He explained that after several hours, by about 8 pm, the object "zooms away" at high speed and is lost to sight. If true, this is obviously not Venus. But then, and here's the kicker, the same or similar "spaceship" comes back and appears again in the southern sky and stays there until morning.
So, I checked the star charts for Flin Flon, and sure enough, Venus sets about 8 pm but Saturn rises and is visible later in the evening.
I was very patient with this witness, who desperately wanted to believe that he was seeing something odd, and was not fooled by an ordinary planet. I asked him if he saw Venus as well as the UFO, which would have clinched it. He couldn't "remember if it was there."
He was very upset that I seemed not to believe him. He insisted that the UFO was something "10 or 20 times higher than airplanes fly" and was high in the atmosphere, keeping an eye on us.
The witness also noted that he brought out his telescope and watched the UFO through it, showing the view to others as well. he said that through his Tasco with a 20mm eyepiece the UFO looked like a "bright circle with a bite taken out of it." In other words, it wasn't in focus and the telescope's optics aren't aligned properly.
I really sympathized with the man. I wanted him to realize that even if it's not a UFO that observing Venus is still an amazing experience. But my mere suggestion that it might be something banal was offensive to him.
This comes, of course, just a week after I handled several other reports of UFOs that were likely Venus as well, reported from other parts of Canada. On the one hand, it's great that people are looking into the sky with a sense of wonder, some of them equipped with technology such as telescopes, cell phones and digital cameras. But without the knowledge of what might be seen in the sky on a regular basis - that the heavens are indeed wonderful and worth observing - the experience is lost to the observer and replaced by wish fulfilment.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Nice review of my new book: "A World of UFOs"
Reviewed by Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press
A World of UFOs
By Chris Rutkowski
Dundurn Press, 315 pages, $22
UFOlogist Chris Rutkowski has compiled in his latest book pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about unidentified flying objects -- except, alas, whether they're extraterrestrial spacecraft.
Rutkowski explains that a UFOlogist does not study UFOs -- he or she studies reports that witnesses have filed of seeing something weird in the sky.
Rutkowski, who has a university degree in astronomy and has penned five previous books on paranormal subjects, has been analyzing UFO reports for more than 30 years.
His most recent book, 2006's The Canadian UFO Report, included some truly spectacular cases in Carman and Falcon.
In A World of UFOs, Rutkowski tries to cover all the bases, gathering UFO sightings from all over the world, and categorizing them by country, by continent, by the most famous, most bizarre, most interesting, most defying explanation.
Of course, he gives us the sighting of nine disc-like flying objects that American pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted near Mount Rainier in Washington State in 1947, leading to the coining of the term "flying saucers."
He does not overlook the notorious abduction of Barney and Betty Hill as they drove along a lonely New Hampshire road in 1961. Under hypnosis, the couple recalled the lost hours on that drive they spent being examined aboard an extraterrestrial craft.
And, it goes without saying, Rutkowski recounts a brief account of the alien craft that supposedly crash-landed near Roswell, N.M., in 1947, possibly putting the bodies of several alien astronauts into the hands of the U.S. military, and allegedly sparking one of the greatest coverups in human history.
Rutkowski, to his credit, never goes off half-cocked about these and dozens of other sightings. He's a scientist who looks first for the rational explanation -- reflected lights, a satellite or meteor or re-entering booster rocket, an aircraft or weather balloon, Venus or a star -- but offers dozens of sightings by intelligent people, for which there appears to be no ready explanation of what they saw in the sky.
There's even one here about a Brazilian fellow who was taken aboard an alien craft, where a female alien wanted to have a really, really close encounter with him. Unfortunately, he just couldn't get in the mood.
Rutkowski also ranges widely to list the best movies made about UFOs, looks at TV shows, and tells readers what details they'll need to note when they report seeing a UFO.
Probably the best part of the book is an A to Z of the UFO world, which gives Rutkowski free rein to riff on his own thoughts in depth on subjects such as abduction, cattle mutilations, hoaxes, little green men, and what governments really know and aren't telling us.
Read A World of UFOs near a window, and keep one eye on the page, and the other on the sky.