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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 Bantzenheim, on November 5, 1990:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1990-11-05-BANTZENHEIM-1

Summary:

Ufologist Franck Marie said he received this testimony by a letter dated November 10, 1990, about an observation of 30 seconds at 07:00 p.m. in Bantzenheim in the Haut-Rhin, having had two witnesses.

The author of the letter says that walking in the village, her husband, her 3-year-old daughter and herself saw all of a sudden a phenomenon of very bright lights, one brighter that the others and larger in the center, the half-diameter of a full moon, all arranged in formation, moving very slowly from west to east.

The witness said that given their strong brightness, the white-yellowish color lights seemed to be very low.

The bright spots were significantly more visible than airliners headlights preparing to land at the Basel-Mulhouse close to their home. The 5 or 6 most important had a long trail behind them, which ended in a point.

This was, of course, one of the numerous sightings of what was absolutely not a "UFO", but the flaming debris of a Russian Proton that crossed the sky of France from the South-West to the North-East on that day and time.

The sketch attached to the letter leaves even less doubt about that:

Scan

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: November 5, 1990
Time: 07:00 p.m.
Duration: 30 seconds.
First known report date: November 10, 1990
Reporting delay: 5 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Bantzenheim
Place: From a street, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.824
Longitude: 7.515
Uncertainty ratio: 800 m

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: ?
Witness(es) ages: 2 adults, 1 3-year-old child.
Witness(es) types: Married couple with child.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Witness letter partly published by ufologist Franck-Marie.
Type of location: From a village street, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Night
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): Yes.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): Yes.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: Nor airliners in approach.

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Space junk.

Sources:

[Ref. fm1:] FRANCK MARIE:

JX 07:00 p.m. 68 BANTZENHEIM (Ottmarsheim) (30 s)

47°48n -7°31e 2 witnesses (Letter of 11/10/90)

"... At 19 o'clock we were walking in the village, my husband, my little 3-year-old daughter and myself, when all at once we saw the phenomenon... very bright lights, one brighter than the others and more important in the middle (half the diameter of a full Moon), all arranged in formation, moving very slowly from west to east... Given their strong brightness, these lights of yellowish-white color seemed to be very low... the bright spots were significantly more visible than projectors or planes preparing to land at Basel-Mulhouse, close to home, usually are. The most important (5 or 6) had a long trail behind them, which ended in a point...

  • Transit: W/E, at the zenith, slow speed, very very low
  • sparkling lights, one big (half diameter of the Full Moon)
  • Luminous beams ending in point (See Il(51), PO(94))

The story is illustrated with this sketch:

Scan

[Ref. ra1:] ROBERT ALESSANDRI:

OBSERVATIONS FILE NOVEMBER 5, 1990

Reference;Place;Latitude;Longitude
Time;Duration (sec);Heading;Passage at the closest
Angular elevation;Dimension(m/km);Distance Atmospheric re-entry (origin/passage at the closest)
Description
Remarks

________________________________________

68J;BANTZENHEIM; 47.8;-7.52
19H00;30;E;N
90;; 950/-94
Numerous lights including a big one, the main ones leaving a trail

Discussion:

On 5 November 1990, one or two minutes after 07:00 p.m., a very commonplace phenomenon occurred, explained, and devoid of any actual strangeness, but it nevertheless started a UFO delirium of some of the French ufologists.

The sightings started with an explosive decay over the Bay of Biscay in France, resulting in combustion fragments seen from afar, and generally, as they approached, seen as a group of three main lights - hence it was called a "triangle" - of large angular size, and followed by trails of smoke and sparks.

Once over land, the thing was seen from different angles and at various distances by people on the ground, which gives a range of quite diverse descriptions.

The thing crossed France following a line approximately from Bordeaux to Strasbourg, in silence, in a straight line without any maneuver, in two to three minutes, reaching Strasbourg at about 07:06 p.m.

There were also sightings reported from the South of England, London, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, but not beyond.

In the evening, several Gendarmerie brigades contacted the National Center for Space Studies to report what people told them. Gendarmes brigades of Angers and Tulle got the chance to see the display themselves. In the evening, the Press service of the armies, SIRPA, confirmed that military pilots had seen something without being able to formally identify it. Near Paris airports of Orly and Roissy, the luminous phenomenon was seen from the control towers. Hundreds or even thousands of civilians reported their sightings to the authorities, the Press and other media.

Radio stations, television channels, newspapers, talk of a UFO, then a meteor, and finally the correct explanation appeared through information given by NASA: it was the entering in the atmosphere of the remains of a Russian Proton rocket launched from the Baikonur space center to put a Gorizont 21 satellite in orbit. Calculations had predicted the fallout of the rocket debris at its 36th orbit, crossing France from the South West to the North East on November 5, 1990 around 07:00 p.m.. SEPRA, then officially in charge of such matters, provided this explanation to news agencies on November 9, 1990.

In November 5, 1990 already, an amateur expert in satellites and space debris impact trajectory calculations, Pierre Neirinck, had seen himself, and had also identified the phenomenon, independently of NASA, as space junk from the Proton rocket.

Any sensible ufologist should have understood what is was from the beginning, given the descriptions, and at least understand thereafter that it was a classical space junk case. But some ufologists refused to hear anything about a rocket and continued to talk and write about it as a "UFO flap", of "400 UFOs" or even "thousands of UFOs", often mixing other, unrelated sightings that were more or less of the same day, sighting who have other explanations. This resulted in the continuing presence of this explained case as massive UFO sightings in a large part of the French UFO literature, and of course this includes observations made in Alsace.

Evaluation:

Space junk.

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 May 16, 2015 Creation, [fm1], [ra1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 16, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on May 16, 2015