Friday, May 28, 2010


Newfie UFOs sill a mystery?

According to a CBC story today, the Newfie UFOs are still unexplained.

A January 28, 2010, DND document obtained through an AI request (the Canadian equivalent of an FOIA request) noted that:

"The RCMP … is calling the event an unexplained sighting."

Curiously, the bulk of the discussion within the documents deal with the possibility that the UFOs seen by witnesses back in January were rockets or missiles. As I noted in earlier blog posts here in January and February, that's just one possibility. I fact, my own investigation showed there was a stronger likelihood that the UFOs were a bit more prosaic: high-flying aircraft. This was supported by the fact there was another, almost identical but less-publicized sighting about the same time over New Brunswick, which was tentatively identified as an aircraft.

The CBC report notes that:

The government has blocked nine pages and a several paragraphs of the UFO documents from public release.

Without having seen the documents, it's difficult to know why they might have been sanitized. One of my original suggestions is that the UFOs were actually military aircraft on a classified mission. The RCMP, DND and NORAD would therefore state that they had no knowledge of missiles or rockets being in the vicinity. But then, no one asked about aircraft.

As it stands, then, a well-witnessed and photographed UFO sighting is labeled "unexplained" by government officials, and the identity of the objects observed is still a mystery. Further, official documents support the fact that the UFO cannot be explained.

Don't debunkers say there are no good-quality UFO cases that are unexplained?

Oh, and note added in proof: Even though I routinely receive official UFO reports through government channels, I have received absolutely none of the documents regarding this incident.

The CBC story can be accessed at:

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Friday, May 14, 2010


Why Don't More Astronomers Report Seeing UFOs?

Yes, yes; the old skeptibunker question.

But maybe there's a simple answer.

The argument as presented by skeptics goes something like this: If UFOs were "real," the most would be seen and reported by those people who spend the most time watching the sky. Originally, the group of people that were considered most likely were astronomers, but it was quickly pointed out that most professional astronomers are too specialized and involved in academia to do much observing.

But amateur astronomers, on the other hand, do spend a lot of time observing the sky. They're the ones who really know what's up there.

A case in point: Ian Shelton made Time Magazine for discovering Supernova 1987a, the brightest of its kind. I went to school with him, and had the opportunity to talk with him about his discovery. When we were in undergraduate astronomy in university, we were in a hallway and saw a poster advertizing a job for a graduate student in Chile, maintaining the University of Toronto's observatory literally on top of an isolated mountain. Already a family man by that point, there was no way I could have considered it, but Ian looked wistful and said, "That sounds neat." He applied and got the job.

Several months later, he was walking between domes on the Chilean mountaintop when he happened to glance upward. Now, you have to understand that Ian was (and is) a very good astronomer. He spent a lot of time observing the sky. He was the best at star-hopping and finding Messier objects and galaxies by eye, and could pick out comets like nobody's business. He looked up into the Chilean sky and knew that one particular star, out of the thousands visible, was out of place.

Ian had discovered a supernova. But he was an amateur astronomer, since he did not have a PhD yet.

It's amateur astronomers who spend time with their eyes glued to eyepieces at 40 below (like I did in my undergraduate years) mapping the Moon's surface. Looking for comets. Timing occultations. These days, a lot of the chore is done by computers and digital imaging devices, but it's usually amateurs who monitor the equipment.

A friend of mine, Dave, is a brilliant amateur astrophotographer. (The qualifier "amateur" hardly seems appropriate.) His photos of the Owl Nebula, the Horsehead and Jupiter's bands are poster-quality. I asked him about his process, and he said that he sets up his equipment in his dark site in Texas before dusk. He waits for darkness, punches the coordinates of the star or galaxy he wants to photograph into the telescope's computer, and makes sure it's centered and focused... and then goes into his warmup shelter and has a beer. Or three. The methodology guarantees success.

But I digress...

It's true; amateur astronomers watch the sky more than most people. Of course, there's fewer of them than there are other people who might casually or accidentally watch the skies, so that's why most UFO reports come from anyone other than amateur astronomers. The other reason is because, as skeptics point out, amateur astronomers can identify most UFOs they see. That is, if the see an object they can't immediately identify, it only takes a minute or two to determine it is a satellite or fireball, of something else. It is true, however, that even experienced amateur astronomers file UFO reports about unusual objects they have seen whilst doing their observing.

But skeptics insist that most "real" UFOs would be reported by amateur astronomers. The reasoning is that if there were any real alien spacecraft approaching Earth, then they would be observed by amateurs' Earthbound telescopes. Also, since amateurs are often blogging or emailing each other about their observations, the news of an anomalous object heading for Earth could not be kept secret. That's how comets are discovered; similarly, asteroids and wayward satellites.

No such discovery has been bouncing around the astronomy ListServs, therefore, there are no alien starships coming to Earth.

UFO buffs, however, note some flaws in the reasoning. First, if we assume aliens are advanced enough to have conquered interstellar space travel, their technology may be more advanced than we can understand. In fact, why couldn't they be here or have come and gone already without our detection? It's kind of Stephen Hawking's suggestion that if aliens are technologically advanced, then they may be very technologically advanced; not just a few hundred years, but tens of thousands, or a million? If our own civilization lasted a million years, can we even conceive of what it would be like?

Secondly, amateur astronomers may be good observers of astronomical objects, but would they be able to identify objects within their own frame of reference? If a UFO flew over their observing site, would astronomers notice it, and if so, report it?

Some note that the tenet that "UFOs are nonsense" among the scientific community is very strong in astronomy circles. Amateurs might be very hesitant to report their observations, thus the percentage of UFO reports among this demographic might be artificially lower than the general population, which has less of a social stigma in this regard.

But another possible explanation was recently noted by my wife, whose insights are always significant. In her research on an unrelated subject, she came across a reference to a famous psychology experiment that may be relevant to this issue.

The experiment was performed and results published by Daniel Simons and Christipher Chabris in 1999. (Simons D J, Chabris C F, 1999, "Gorillas in our midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events." Perception 28(9) 1059 – 1074.) They noted:

Our results suggest that the likelihood of noticing an unexpected object depends on the similarity of that object to other objects in the display and on how difficult the priming monitoring task is.

For the experiment, they filmed a scene of several people passing a basketball to one another, and showed the film to a group of participants in the experiment, asking them to note how many times the players in white shirts passed the ball. As much as 70% of the time, the viewers counted the passes correctly, but failed to see the guy in a gorilla suit walking through the scene.

View the clip at:

The phenomenon of inattentional blindness occurs when people are focused on a specific task and ignore other things around them. This could be one reason why so many people can be out observing the sky and fail to see something out of the ordinary flying overhead. This would be most relevant for professional observers of the sky, like pilots, meteorologists and astronomers.

In other words, an astronomer observing the night sky, looking for comets or simply tracking a planet's progress for astrophotography, might not observe a UFO moving in the area. It;s the focus of one's attention that prevents observation of things not of interest. And UFOs are definitely not of interest to astronomers.

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Mystery Regarding Official UFO Report

In my last post, I noted some recent UFO reports in Canada. One of the cases was:

May 5, 2010
2:00 am
Maidstone, SK
"Lots of blinking lights. yellow and red, hovering near the airport. No noise. Lights were present several minutes."

This report had come by way of official channels, i.e. Transport Canada, National Defence or RCMP. In this instance, the report was a CADS (Civil Aviation Directive) Report that normally is filed by a pilot or airport personnel.

The problem is that the report notes it was filed by the "Airport Manager" at Maidstone. The number listed for the observer was the municipal office for the town, and they were baffled.

You guessed it; there is not such position as "airport manager." Maidstone is an unmaintained airport, open to the public and without onsite personnel. In fact, when I contacted the municipal offices, they couldn't think of anyone who could be called a "manager" of the grassy strip.

Even Barb Campbell, longtime area resident and my colleague-in-arms with regard to paranormal/UFO events in SK, and who happens to live in the area, didn't know who might have filed the report. She did, however, send some photos of the little airstrip for reference.

Now, it's common to get anonymous UFO reports from the general public. However, getting one through official channels is another thing.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Recent Canadian UFO Reports

Some cases that either came to me directly or I found in my net mining:

May 5, 2010
2:00 am
Maidstone, SK
"Lots of blinking lights. yellow and red, hovering near the airport. No noise. Lights were present several minutes."

May 5, 2010
9:30 pm
Lac du Bonnet, MB
While driving down (east?) Highway 317, a witness saw a bright starlike object in the East. After a while the single light became three in a row. The group seemed stationary. Witness did not think the lights were on a plane as they did not move. However, he soon saw they were flying as a group from the East to the Northwest, "smoother than any other plane," then were lost to sight.

May 6, 2010
9:00 pm
Cornwall, ON
A bright light was seen (in the south?), then disappeared. Then a blinking red light appeared and the bright light "came on" again. Video was shot and posted to YouTube, but the image is too faint and the camera was not on a tripod.

May 9, 2010
2:10 am
Edmonton, AB
A glowing orange sphere was see in the north. No sound was heard as the object moved between two clouds from East to West in only a second, then made a right-angle turn and headed South. The light was then lost to sight.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Boomerang UFO Flew Over Ste. Rose, MB

A witness reported a detailed sighting to (thanks Sue!) and I was able to interview him regarding his observation.

It happened on Saturday, April 3, 2010, at about 11:30 am. The witness and his son were on the deck of their home in the town of Ste. Rose du Lac, Manitoba. While casually looking at the sky, they saw "a dark shadow." It moved from the south into view over the roof of the house.

He noted:

We observed the craft together as it passed overhead until we could not see it anymore. As it passed over head I gauged the size of the craft using my fingers and structures as a sizing guide. Guessing the size at about 250 ft wide by 500 ft plus long, I could not believe what I was seeing so close to the ground. The craft passed directly overhead in a straight line at a slow enough speed that I could see some finer details of the craft. It was a long black boomerang shaped Craft. It was about the height off the ground as a small plane would fly - I would guess about a thousand feet off the ground or so. All black in color, no marker lights shining. There were three red glowing round openings under each wing [that were] orange/red in color. They were evenly spaced on the back 2/3 of each wing.

They watched the craft until it disappeared behind the local community hall, where although many people could be heard gathered there outside, no one saw the object pass overhead. The entire duration of observation was only about 8 to 10 seconds before it passed out of sight behind buildings and trees.

The witness noted that on April 18, 2010, he saw another odd object moving in the sky, although at a much higher altitude, with a somewhat different appearance.

It is interesting that the description of the object seen over Ste. Rose is very similar to what was seen over Westlock, Alberta, on April 18th (the day of the Manitoba witness' second sighting. A sketch of the object seen at Westlock is at:

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


UFO Reported from Edson, Alberta, May 1, 2010

I received a DND report regarding a witness' sighting of a UFO over Edson, Alberta, on May 1, 2010. The report is actually already on Youtube, with additional information:

I went for my last smoke around 11:30 pm May 1st 2010 saw it, ran in and grabbed my camera. I only wish I had thought of my tripod, but if you turn the contrast up you can plainly see it suddenly jump away from the edge of the outside light. I have a 60X zoom on my cam so its shaky. I used a flashlight to try to coax the thing closer but it it flashed a bit then took off northbound. Im keeping my eyes on the skys from now on with cam in hand big time! Hopefully there will be more vids to come. The first few minutes is the best footage as the thing got further away the camera couldnt pick it up as well, PS my husband says it could be mid air night refueling of a jet, but over Edson?

The video itself is less than spectacular. A distant light videoed without a tripod, bouncing all over the frame, the camera desperately trying to zoom out to infinity and back.

It was said to move "left to right [then] departed north." Since we don't know what direction it was seen in the first place, this isn't that helpful. The duration is also not given.

So, I called the witness and she used a compass to get an accurate direction for me. The object was low in the northeast at first, then went west to the north compass point, then back to the northeast, went to the NNE and headed out of sight.

Also, she said that the object had started out high in the sky ("up with the satellites"), then she went in their trailer to get her camcorder. When she came out, it was lower in the air, in the northeast.

Monday, May 03, 2010


Videographer's Complaint: Why No Clear Videos of UFOs?

I was just assisting with a TV interview of a researcher regarding a major breaking news story today (nothing to do with UFOs) when during a break the videographer recognized me from the UFO stuff.

He came up to me and said, "You know, I'm still skeptical about UFOs." He held up his network news video camera. "There are hundreds of guys like me with cameras like these all over the place. Why can't anyone get a really clear video of a UFO?"

I replied. "That's an excellent point."

Then I asked: "So how many really clear videos of the Times Square car bomber did any of the hundreds of people and news cameramen in downtown New York manage to get, especially outside the Viacom offices?"

He harumphed and walked back to the shoot.

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