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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 Fessenheim-le-Bas, in February 1977:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1977-02-00-FESSENHEIMLEBAS-1

Summary:

The ufology magazine "Lumières Dans La Nuit" for July / August 1989 published am investigation of their delegate Philippe Wiedenhof on a sighting in February 1977 in Fessenheim-le-Bas.

A couple returning by car from a family evening on a night from a Saturday to a Sunday around 02:30 a.m., was just outside the village of Quatzenheim, when they saw before them, on their left, a red-orange ball of light, slightly oval according to the woman, at a distance of 5 to 6 km, located in the triangle defined by Nordheim, Kuttolsheim and Fessenheim-le-Bas.

The light was clear, with sharply defined contours, and not blinding. It was "like phosphorescent" and "it looked like the rising moon, but with a double size."

The couple first thought it was the steeple of the church of Kuttolsheim that was illuminated, but after thinking about it, they rejected this idea because this church was 3 km on the right side of the road, a straight road on the section they were driving on.

The thing seemed initially motionless. The couple continued to observe it while driving, and they found that the object approached and went down. At one moment, the car exceeded the object; which was now about 50 meters on the left of the witnesses, at an estimated height of 30 meters.

Its size, color and shape had not changed.

The husband accelerated because they were worried, the woman was afraid that the object would bump into the car.

Quickly, they arrived in Kuttolsheim, and out of this village, the husband stopped, gots out of the car, but saw nothing. The investigator said that Kuttolsheim is located in a natural basin.

According to Christian Valentin, author of a book about UFOs in Alsace, the investigation was resumed and completed ten years later by Christian Morgenthaler, Alain Fischer and René Faudrin. They re-interviewed the witnesses who kept their statements unchanged. They had done the trip again, checked and eliminated several hypotheses, such as weather balloon, helicopter, light reflection and they did not find any ordinary explanation.

Christian Valentin notes that a misinterpretation of the moon was not considered by the investigators, but he thinks that because the exact date was not known, the position and phase of the moon cannot be checked.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: Ferbuary 1977
Time: ~02:30 a.m.
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1989
Reporting delay: 12 years.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Fessenheim-le-Bas
Place: Driving by car on the D228 from Quatzenheim to Kuttolsheim, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 48.626
Longitude: 7.566
Uncertainty ratio: 100 m

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2
Number of known witnesses: 2
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults.
Witness(es) types: A couple.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Report by local ufologist Philippe Wiedenhof.
Type of location: Driving by car on a road, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Night.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: Yes
UFO departure observed: Yes
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled, frightened.
Witnesses interpretation: Moon, illuminated steeple, but no.

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Unidentified.

Sources:

[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 there has been a case in February 1977 in Fessenheim-le-Bas that was not published in press, but in the Lumières Dans La Nuit magazine #298 for July / August 1989, as an investigation by by Philippe Wiedenhof, LDLN delegate at the time.

He indicates that the investigation was resumed and completed ten years later by Christian Morgenthaler, Alain Fischer and René Faudrin.

He then provides "extracts:"

"Mr. and Mrs. A. (anonymity requested) return by car from a family night, a night from Saturday to Sunday in February 1977. Around 2:30 a.m., at the exit of the village of Quatzenheim, they see in front of them, on their left, a red-orange luminous ball (slightly oval according to Ms. A.) 5 to 6 km away, situated in the triangle defined by Nordheim, Kuttolsheim and Fessenheim-le-Bas.

It is a well-desfined light, with well-defined contours, a light that does not dazzle, like phosphorescent. "It looked like th risinge moon, but with a double size."

At first it seems motionless.

While driving, Mr. and Mrs. A. continue to observe the phenomenon. Their first impression was that they were watching the steeple of the church Kutolsheim illuminated, but after thinking about this, they reject the idea: the church is located 3 km further on the right of the road, which is rectilinear on this section.

Pursuing their trip the witnesses find that the object approaches while going down. At one time, the car exceeds the object; which is now at about 50 meters on the left of witnesses at an estimated height of 30 meters. Its size, color and shape did not change.

Mr A. accelerates because all are excited, and A. is afraid that the object enters the car. They quickly enter Kutolsheim. At the exit of the village, Mr A. stops, gets out of the car, but sees nothing anymore (One must say that Kutolsheim is located in a natural hollow)."

.../...

Christian Valentin says that a decade later, investigators interviewed the witnesses again, and they did not change their report, repeating the journeys, checking and eliminate several assumptions such as weather balloons, helicopter, light reflection... and they did not find what it was.

He notes that a misinterpretation with the moon was not though about by the investigators, but as the exact date is not known, the position and phase of the moon could not be verified.

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

Let's comment this case.

(Note: Fessenheim-le-Bas in the Bas-Rhin department is not Fessenheim in the Haut-Rhin department.)

The mere fact that the witnesses apparently said "one would have said it is the rising moon, but with double size" should be enough to raise an eyebrow. Indeed, if the only difference with the moon is the double size, one must remember that this is a very common illusion, when the moon is low. It seems bigger.

I do not agree with the idea that the lack of an exact date prevents checking the moon possibility. Indeed, we do know it was in February 1977, and we do now that it was "a night from Saturday to Sunday." This gives us several possible dates, so no specific date, but it allows checking all these possible dates. If the Moon was never there, the case for the Moon would be closed.

The time is 02:30 a.m., so it was on a Sunday. The possible dates are:

February 1, 1977 February 8, 1977 February 15, 1977 February 22, 1977 February 29, 1977

The ephemeris show for those times:

Date Moon rise Moon set Its direction Its elevation Its phase
February 1, 1977 05:15 p.m. 07:43 a.m. 237° 47° Phase: 0.89679 (Gibbous growing) 89.7% of the surface is lighted.
February 8, 1977 00:01 a.m. 11:32 a.m. 126° 21° Phase: 0.82915 (Gibbous shrinking) 82.9% of the surface is lighted.
February 15, 1977 07:35 a.m. 05:12 p.m. N/A N/A Not visible.
February 22, 1977 11:05 a.m. 05:58 p.m. N/A N/A Not visible.
February 29, 1977 02:52 p.m. 04:51 a.m. 255° 35° Phase: 0.76664 (Gibbous growing) 76.7% of the surface is lighted.

So we have three dates with the presence of the moon, with directions and elevations.

The challenge now is to identify the path of the car, and directions to the UFO.

A map is needed:

According to the report, we know that:

  1. At the exit of the village of Quatzenheim, they saw the UFO "in front of them, on their left." At this time, the UFO is located "in the triangle defined by Nordheim, Kuttolsheim and Fessenheim-le-Bas."
  2. They drive.
  3. The stretch of road is in straight line.
  4. They think about an illumination of the steeple of Kuttolsheim but rejected the idea because the "church is located 3 km further on the right of the road."
  5. They drive.
  6. The car is "passes" the UFO which is now "on the left of the witnesses."
  7. They enter Kuttolsheim, a hollow, when they come out, the man saw no UFO anymore.

Since the were at the exit of Quatzenheim, they are the red dot, saying that the UFO is in fromt of them to their left.

They say it is "in the triangle defined by Nordheim, Kuttolsheim and Fessenheim-le-Bas", this is consistent, and allows to draw the median observation direction line in green.

This line gives the direction 295°.

It is a median line of the triangle, compatible with their assumption of the bell tower of Kuttolsheim was illuminated. The limits of the approximation is at most 281 ° further south, at most the 305° further north.

As they give up the idea of an illuminated Kuttolsheim steeple as this place is on the "right" of their road, it can be reasonably thought that the right direction is more to the median line than the maximum limit to the north of the said triangle.

As they say they are then 3 km away from Kuttolsheim, they can actually be located at that time at the green dot, exactly at the exit of Quatzenheim which is indeed just 3 km away from the first houses of Kuttolsheim.

What is also clear is that they made no turn. The road is indeed totally in straight line: they come out of Quatzenheim, they will enter Kuttolsheim, they were necessarily driving on the totally straight line of the D228 road.

Before Kuttolsheim, they pass the object, or the object passes them. It is then on their left. We cannot tell exactly where they are, it is only sure that they are between the exit of Quatzenheim and the entry of Kuttolsheim. In the midst of these limits lies Fessenheim-le-Bas, the crossing of this village is also in straight line.

What is certain is that the thing is being referred to now as located on their left - not to mention that it is reported to have come closer and down, and would have been 50 meters of them - the new position excludes the moon since the road is straight and that the direction of the object has strongly changed from 295° to their left so near the 210°, a change of about 90°.

Even taking the southernmost limit of the "triangle" Nordheim, Kuttolsheim and Fessenheim-le-Bas, we have a change in viewing direction far too important for the moon explanation.

For the three possible dates, the moon was at 237 °, 136 °, 255 °. The "more fitting" moon direction is shown by the red line on my map. We see that is quite away from the direction indicated as "the triangle defined by Nordheim, Kuttolsheim and Fessenheim-le-Bas" whose boundaries are in blue. The moon being in the direction of the red line, how could they have speculated that the UFO might have been the illuminated steeple of Kuttolsheim?

A clear indication of the UFO movement is the indication that the car "exceeds" the object that is on their left. If there had been turns on the road, this would have been explained, but there is absolutely no turn on the D228 road stretch they were driving on during the sighting.

So, unless the report is in error, I do not think that the moon can be a safe explanation for this case.

Evaluation:

Unidentified.

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 March 19, 2016 Creation, [cv2].
1.0 Patrick Gross March 19, 2016 First published.

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This page was last updated on March 19, 2016