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ALSACAT:

As its name suggests, ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

Case in Alsace up to Strasbourg, on January 20, 1859:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1859-01-20-ALSACESTRASBOURG-1

Summary:

At the peak of the flying saucers flap in 1954 in France, a newspaper wrote about it, and as others did, intended to show that flying saucers "are not an invention of our century."

They illustrate this claim by quoting from an extract from the memoirs of the Company of Emulation of the Jura, in 1864, which under the title "Flaming globes," reported this:

"On January 20, 1859 at 4:35 a.m., under a fairly heavy rain, but calm, and in a very dark night, the atmosphere was suddenly lit by a very bright white light that let recognize distant objects with great clarity. This light was due to a light globe rolling through space from south to north, with great rapidity.

The newspaper added that a large number of people, "frightened, left their house, believed it was a fire," and that this was seen from Lyon to Strasbourg.

The source indicated by the newspaper is real and really tells this story. But this newspaper seems to be the only one to see "flying saucers" here rather than a large meteor, since I found no mention of this story in the UFO literature.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: January 20, 1859
Time: 04:35
Duration: ?
First known report date: January 20, 1859?
Reporting delay: Minutes, day?

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin to Bas-Rhin
City: In Alsace up to Strasbourg
Place: Is in the sky.
Latitude: N/A
Longitude: N/A
Uncertainty ratio: N/A

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: Numerous
Number of known witnesses: ?
Number of named witnesses: ?
Witness(es) ages: Adults
Witness(es) types: ?

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Press?
Type of location: UFO in sky seen from ground on about 400 km.
Visibility conditions: Night
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: Fire, natural phenomenon.

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Probable meteor.

Sources:

[Ref. se1:] "SOCIETE D'EMULATION DU JURA":


Flaming globes. -- On January 20, 1859, at 4 hours 35 minutes in the morning, with a fairly heavy rain, but calm, and in a very dark night, the atmosphere was suddenly lit by a very bright white light, which allowed distinguishing distant objects with the greatest clarity. This light was due to a luminous globe, gliding through space from S. to N., with great rapidity. We described this phenomenon in the newspapers, we observed it with a large number of people who, frightened, left their homes, believing it was a fire. It was seen from Lyon to Strasbourg, the Jura, in the Bresse, in the vineyard and on the first plateau.

[Ref. vm1:] "VAR-MATIN - REPUBLIQUE" NEWSPAPER:

In an article by this newspaper about flying saucers, the following was published:

Let us add that the saucers are not an invention of our century. Indeed, an extract of the memories of the Emulation society of the Jura, for 1864, under the title "Flaming globes" reports the following lines:

"On January 20, 1859 at 04:35 a.m., by a rather strong rain, but a calm and a very black night, the atmosphere was suddenly illuminated by a very bright white light which made it possible to distinguish from far away the objects with a great accuracy. This light was due to a luminous sphere slipping through space from the south to the north, at a great speed.

A large numbers of people who, frightened, left their house, believed in a fire.

This phenomenon was seen from Lyon to Strasbourg."

Discussion:

Of course, there isn't the slightest reason to think that this was not a big meteor, and no reason to think that it was a "flying saucer."

Above: "from Lyon to Strasbourg",
the phenomenon's trajectory
according to the sources.

The "Jura Emulation Society", in 1864, of course, was absolutely not saying this was a flying Saucer or a UFO. Reading their article, I found that they ranked it as "the" phenomenon of the "fiery globes", listed among other phenomena where astronomy and meteorology mix: thunderstorms, ball lightning, shooting stars etc. At that time indeed, "meteorology" was about meteors and weather. In a broad sense, "meteor" meant virtually any atmospheric phenomenon, such as thunder, lightning, aurora, earthquake lights, rainfall, clouds, mist, dust devils, meteors, rainbows, halo, mirages... All that occurred in the skies was not clearly understood then.

Above: a meteor.

Evaluation:

Probable large meteor.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross March 14, 2014 Creation, [se1], [vm1].
1.0 Patrick Gross March 14, 2014 First published.

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This page was last updated on March 14, 2014.