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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 of Ensisheim, on April 22, 1966:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1966-04-22-ENSISHEIM-1

Summary:

The regional newspaper L'Alsace of April 26, 1966 reported a sighting of a "strange celestial phenomenon seen in the sky of Ensisheim" told them that a young man, a student who was interested in astronomy, that they estimated to have nothing imaginative or a joker, especially since he had never uttered the word "saucer".

On April 22 at 21:15 in the company of his friend enthusiast like himself the things of heaven, he was in a rural road two kilometers south of Ensisheim.

They examined the sky and bringing their look towards the constellation Hydra, they saw a white glow that was not there usually, and whose light intensity was higher than that of the nebula Orion constellation.

This glow had an elliptical shape, and its axis could have been four times the diameter of the moon. She was in the south, about 30 degrees above the horizon.

The object remained motionless for 3-4 minutes, then, in its center was formed as a point of light which is set to grow to meet and exceed the diameter of the moon.

This point became disk, then took the colors of the rainbow, and then lost all shine through the center, never to form a tiny circle of light, motionless. The elliptical glow was gone.

Then the circle is stretched parabolic, taking the form of a comet tail in bright frayed strands to ship the constellation.

Two days later the same newspaper indicated that they had received other testimonies, from Froeningue, and from Staffelfelden.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: April 22, 1966
Time: 11:15 p.m.
Duration: 3 to 4 minutes at least.
First known report date: April 26, 1978
Reporting delay: 4 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Ensisheim
Place: Country path 2 km south of Ensisheim, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.846
Longitude: 7.345
Uncertainty ratio: 1 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Young adult.
Witness(es) types: Youn man and male friend, both astronomy buffs.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Reported to the regional Press.
Type of location: Country path, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Night.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: No
UFO departure observed: Yes
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Barium cloud spread by rocket.

Sources:

[Ref. la1:] "L'ALSACE" NEWSPAPER:

A strange celestial phenomenon seen in the sky of Ensisheim

From the first words we realized that it could not be an imaginative person or a prankster. The young man explained that he was a student, he was interested in astronomy, and last Friday, at 09:15 p.m., he observed, in the company of one of his friends, also impassionate of heavenly things, a strange phenomenon. Our interlocutor at no time pronounced the word "saucer". And with the precision of a man accustomed to explore the infinite sky (he had, he tells us, a special telescope) that he situated what he had seen.

"We were on a country path, my companion and I, about two kilometers south of Ensisheim. We were looking at the sky and it is on turning our gaze towards the constellation of Hydra that we saw a white glow that was not usually there, and whose luminous intensity was higher than that of the nebula in the Orion constellation. The glow had an elliptical shape. The axis could reach four times the diameter of the moon. The appearance was in the south, about 30 degrees above the horizon.

The object remained stationary for 3-4 minutes, then in the center formed like a dot of light that began to grow to meet and exceed the diameter of the moon. This dot became a disk, then took the colors of the spectrum, then lost all shining from its center, to form only a tiny luminous circle. The elliptical light had vanished. Then the circle stretched to a parabolic shape, taking the form of a comet tail that unraveled in light strands towards the constellation of the Ship."

[Ref. cv2:] CHRISTIAN VALENTIN:

Former journalist Christian Valentin published in 2012 a very interesting book telling the story of UFO sightings, flying saucers sightings, in Alsace, from the beginning to 1980.

In this book, he reports that L’Alsace for Tuesday, April 26, 1966, published this:

A strange celestial phenomenon seen in the sky of ENSISHEIM

From the first words we realized that it could not be an imaginative person or a prankster. The young man explained that he was a student, he was interested in astronomy, and last Friday, at 09:15 p.m., he observed, in the company of one of his friends, also impassionate of heavenly things, a strange phenomenon. Our interlocutor at no time pronounced the word "saucer". And with the precision of a man accustomed to explore the infinite sky (he had, he tells us, a special telescope) that he situated what he had seen.

"We were on a country path, my companion and I, about two kilometers south of Ensisheim. We were looking at the sky and it is on turning our gaze towards the constellation of Hydra that we saw a white glow that was not usually there, and whose luminous intensity was higher than that of the nebula in the Orion constellation. The glow had an elliptical shape. The axis could reach four times the diameter of the moon. The appearance was in the south, about 30 degrees above the horizon.

The object remained stationary for 3-4 minutes, then in the center formed like a dot of light that began to grow to meet and exceed the diameter of the moon. This dot became a disk, then took the colors of the spectrum, then lost all shining from its center, to form only a tiny luminous circle. The elliptical light had vanished. Then the circle stretched to a parabolic shape, taking the form of a comet tail that unraveled in light strands towards the constellation of the Ship."

Christian Velentin then also gives the same newspaper article of two days later with the other testimonies, from Froeningue, and from Staffelfelden.

Christian Valentin says that the two young people had opera glasses with them, but did not see more details than with the naked eyes when they used the glasses.

He noted that the reported observation overlaps very precisely with those that were made on the same night, in Oberhergheim by the mayor, the teacher and the priest of the village.

He asks whether this should be included to the unidentified aerial objects, ie in terms of the famous flying saucers, or if this was an explanable weather phenomenon, or a weather balloon or a rocket.

He thinks his interlocutor, despite his youth, would probably not get mistaken by a sighting like this. He did not emit hypothesis but wanted to describe what he saw, expecting that others also saw the phenomenon; which may help to gather new information.

On the instructions of Mr. Léonard Saur, one of the witnesses of Oberhergheim that met in May 2008, Christian Valentin contacted Mr. Jean Krust, of Ensisheim, who with his two brothers, also witnessed the phenomenon.

Passionate aeronautics in all its forms, they had founded in 1967 the Rozanoff association, named after the famous French test pilot in the 1960s.

At the time, the Krust brothers had developed several handmade scale models of the "Diane" rocket, and their association won several national awards, and it allowed them to develop their passion with the help of the National Center for Space Studies, CNES, during launch campaigns on the military terrain of Courtine in Creuse.

Through these contacts with CNES, they learned that the spectacle they had witnessed with many Alsatian on the evening of April 22, 1966, must have been explosions in the higher layers of the atmosphere of the head of a rocket intended to the study of the spread of the magnetic field.

While Christian Valentin relied on the memory of Mr. Krust and scientific knowledge, at the end October 2012, the former mayor of Oberhergheim Leonardo Saur, had given him the letter sent in May 1966 to his uncle, an astronomy enthsiast, by the astronomical society of Vienna, Austria, where the phenomenon also witnessed. They specified that the two explosions occurred at 2000 km altitude above the Sahara.

Discussion:

About Christian Valentin's book:

It is not at all my habit to "advertise" a book or anything, and I have no interested relationship with the author, but I wanted to say a word on the book by Christian Valentin, "Mythes et Réalités des Phénomènes Aériens Non Identifiés" (i.e. "Myths and Realities of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (cover on the left) , ref. [cv2]; which, as its subtitle indicates, is about Alsatian UFO sighting reports and the saucer lore in Alsace.

I think Alsatian ufologist and generally people interested in the UFO question, or in the history of Alsace, my region, would probably like this book.

The 144 pages book is sober but well presented, unbiased, richly documented and illustrated. It is the first work in print specifically about UFO sightings in Alsace. (There was another one a few years ago, but it was partly made by copying - pasting without mention of the sources, portions of my website, especially the Alsatians cases I almost exhaustively documented in my catalog of UFO sightings in France in 1954, and copies from another websites; the trivial explanations I proposed or gave there being almost always stripped off!)

The author does not want to prove or disprove the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors or some other so-called "extraordinary" explanation, he rather offers a chronologically ordered review of Alsatian UFO reports, starting from the origin and stopping in 1980, based on known sources ufology, on the articles of the regional Press, and cases less known or even unreleased so far that he collected directly with the witnesses. His own comments are printed in a different color, references to the sources are always given. A very nice work in my opinion!

The author currently has a blog where he shows what libraries in Alsace have the book available, see: christian.valentin.overblog.com

Such an event had to be "transnational", not only seen in Alsace.

And indeed we have other comments on that date and time.

On April 22, 1966, four sightings were reported in Germany according to the "UFO-Datenbank" catalog:

19660422Bad WimpfenGermany21.15
19660422GöppingenGermany21.15
19660422HarthaGermany21.15
19660422Hartha21.15
19660422Frauenfeld21:13NLIFOBariumdampfwolke [barium cloud].

Note that for the last sighting, the explanation is given, but the reconciliation with the other sightings, although obvious, was not done.

In the old UFOCAT catalog, we have, among the observations of April 22, 1966:

21:00Figueira da FozPortugalOrange sphere over coast.
21:00MequinenzaSpainNocturnal lights were reported.
21:10LisboaPortugalNocturnal lights were reported.
21:10Sao Bras de AlportelPortugalNocturnal lights were reported.
21:14ViennaAustriaNocturnal lights were reported (Mucke).
21:15Bad WimpfenGermanyNocturnal lights were reported.
21:15GoppingenGermanyNocturnal lights were reported.
21:15HarthaGermany(Ambiguous location - more than one place with this name).
21:30Ciudad RealSpainNocturnal lights were reported.
21:30ChauvignyFrance10m long cigar hovered vertically, two solid coherent light beams retract. Shoots away fast.

And so, without Christian Valentin, these sightings would have remained independently unexplained:

21:152 km south of EnsisheimThe two young men.
21:15Between Froeningen and Spechbach-le-BasSomeone.
21:15In Staffelfelden at the Marie-Louise mineMr. H. K., of Staffelfelden, and numerous miners and employees of the mine - this case file.
21:15In OberhergheimThe Mayor Leonard Saur, the schoolteacher.
~21:20A OberhergheimThe Mayor Leonard Saur, the schoolteacher, abd abbot K., village priest.
~21:15?A OberhergheimThe schoolteacher's wife and sculptor J. S.

And, without ALSACAT, all these and the other, transnational, sightings, would have remained unrelated and unidentified, except for the one correctly explaned in UFO-Datenbank.

About the rocket, and clouds of barium:

The literature (*) shows that on April 22, 1966, France performed, from Hammaguir near Colomb-Bechar in Algeria, its third launch of the sounding rocket Ruby. Ruby 03, to "vaporize" barium copper oxide in the upper atmosphere to study the high-energy particles sent by the sun and the solar wind. Barium clouds also allows observer on the ground to distinguish the direction of the magnetic forces lines in Earth's magnetic field.

This launch of the Ruby 03 sounding rocket established a French rocket high altitude record of 2035 km.

VE-210 "Ruby" was designed to test the airborne release of the cap, the separation and rotation of the third stage of the "Diamond" launcher. It carried the top of the Diamant launcher onto a VE-110 Agate first stage.

(*) For example, "History of the French Sounding Rocket Programmes", by Christopher Rothmund, March 1991.

Below: some images of barium clouds:

Evaluation:

Barium cloud spread by rocket.

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
Editeur: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 5, 2016 Creation, [la1], [cv2].
1.0 Patrick Gross April 5, 2016 First published.

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This page was last updated on April 5, 2016