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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 Mulhouse, on November 5, 1990:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1995-11-05-MULHOUSE-1

Summary:

Ufologist Franck Marie, convinced that a wave of more than 400 UFOs flew over France on November 5, 1990, told of an observation in Mulhouse at the train station that night at 06:37 p.m. more or less 8 minutes, with 30 seconds duration.

The story came from a letter from a witness on November 8, 1990.

The witness wrote that between approximately 6:45 p.m. 6:30 p.m., she left her home, in the annular building opposite the railway station, and crossed the little square that occupies the center of the semicircle, heading towards the station, when she suddenly saw before her, at an altitude that it appeared relatively low to her, a series of spots of light spaced enough for some, others closer together, of various colors, intensities and sizes. She first thought that this was a big airliner flying at very low altitude.

She said to herself "They are crazy!"; but soon realized that this could not be a single plane but rather a plane squadron.

Some bright spots were like followed, or preceded, of very clear light beams, as disseminated by powerful spotlights, and everything moved perfectly simultaneously, rather slowly, from the northeast to the southwest, literally gliding without any noise, during or after the passing.

She was so enthralled that she could not even say if other people who were crossing the square at that time had also seen it, and says that it was "very beautiful, awesome, unexpected", that it was not a jumble of lights arranged in all directions, but almost geometrical, homogeneous, rather a rectangle or a diamond than a triangle.

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.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: November 5, 1990
Time: Approximately between 06:30 p.m. and 06:45 p.m.
Duration: 30 seconds.
First known report date: November 8, 1990
Reporting delay: 3 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Mulhouse
Place: Between the bâtiment annulaire and the station, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.743
Longitude: 7.341
Uncertainty ratio: 100 m

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adult or aged.
Witness(es) types: Female.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Letter.
Type of location: Outside downtown city, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Night
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: No
UFO departure observed: No
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): Maybe.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): Maybe.
Witness(es) feelings: Impressed, surprised.
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Space junk reentry.

Sources:

[Ref. fm1:] FRANCK MARIE:

JO 18H37 (+-: 8 mn) 68 MULHOUSE (Gare Sncf) (30 s)

47°45n -7°21e 1 witness (Letter of 11/08/90)

"That Monday evening, between 06:30 p.m. and 06:45 p.m. I was leaving home (the ring building opposite the railway station) and crossing the little square which occupies the center of the half-circle, directing to the station, I see suddenly before me, at an altitude that seemed rather low, a series of luminous dots quite spaced for some, others closer, of varied colors, intensities and sizes, which made me first believe in a big airliner flying at very low altitude and I thought to myself: "They are crazy!" But I realized immediately that it could not be a single plane but rather a squadron! Some of these points of light were like followed (or preceded) of very clear light beams, as projected by powerful spotlights! All was moving perfectly simultaneously, rather slowly, from the northeast to the southwest, literally gliding, without any noise, during or after the move... I was so captivated that I do not even know whether other people than I crossed the square at that time... it was beautiful, awesome, unexpected... It was not a jumble of lights arranged in all directions, but almost all geometric, homogeneous rather a rectangle than a triangle or a rhombus..."

  • Transit: NE/SW, passage at the SE (200/H), at 1 km max, very very low
  • Horizontal flight by gliding, without any noise
  • Lights: about 15 of different colors
  • Powerful headlights with very strong very bright luminous beams
  • Dimensions: between buildings distant of 150 m (approx) seen at 100 m (approx)
  • " deduced: 150 m seen at 100 m; Length (= 1500 m/km)
  • Huge geometrical object, homogenous, rather parallelepipedic
  • Very beautiful, impressive, unexpected!

The report is illustrated of these sketches:

Scan

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

________________________________________

68A;MULHOUSE; 47.75;-7.35
18H37+-;30;SO;SE
20;1500; 935/-93
Lights forming approximately a rectangle, some followed of preceded of luminous beams
Check direction on a map

[Ref. my1:] FORUM WEB "LES MYSTERES DES OVNIS":

SebastienP Très bonne participation
Masculin Age: 34
Nombre de messages: 187
Inscription: 18/02/2008
Localisation: allemagne
Emploi: Technicien
Passions: Photo Astronomie

Subject: Re: The Observations of November 5 1990 a satellite and ufos? Sat 05 Mar 2011, 18:07

Thenky for your support

Here is the liste of the observations that are apparently incompatible with the space junk reentry:

[...]

68A|MULHOUSE| 47.75|-7.35|06:37p.m.+-|30|SW|SE|20|1500| 935/-93|Lights forming roughly a rectangle, some followed or preceded by luminous beams|Check direction on map.

[...]

[Ref. sp4:] SPICA UFOLOGY GROUP:

City Date and hour of observation General shape
Identification
General color
Hypothesis
Conclusion
MULHOUSE Monday 5 November 1990 at 19h00 information not communicated
Unidentified
black
None
Unsolved -lack of info

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 some of the UFO literature, and of course this includes observations made in Alsace.

Let's see this case, occurring in places that I know well. There is an obvious witness location issue:

For Franck Marie [fm1], the observation is given as "NE / SW, SE transition", from the Northeast to the South-West so exactly the opposite direction of the trajectory of the rocket debris, and "passing SE"; which I do not understand - a pass to the southeast, or a turn to the East after arrival by the Northeast then going to the southwest?

Robert Alessandri [ra1] also gives the Southwest heading with a pass to the southeast; which is also contrary to the path of Russian rocket debris.

This is probably why "SebastienP" [my1] lists this sighting as incompatible with the explanation by the rocket debris. The SPICA [sp4] gives nothing really exact, the hours is different, the "black" color does not exist in the testimony, the direction is not given, and the case is said to be unexplained for lack information without even an "hypothetical" explanation although at this date, time and place, it should be obvious to consider the famous reentry of November 5, 1990.

Then we have a plan and a drawing, apparently by the witness, given by [fm1].

Let's see the actual places that I explain below:

Top left, we have the well-known "batiment annulaire ("ring building") where the witness resided. It is a annular housing building with a park in the center, crossed by a road leading downtown at one end and to the station at the other end. It was at the station side exit that the witness left the building.

If one believes the map given with the testimony, the witness is at the green dot on the corner of the "chambre de commerce", on the corner between the Avenue Auguste Wicky and the Rue du 17 novembre. Somewhere in the black circle on the map, the black spot on the map then being meaningless.

If one believes the sketch, he was at the red dot, at the exit of the passage of the annular building with the Chamber of Commerce to his right and the Wilson tower to his left.

In the drawing, the interval between the Chambre of Commerce and the Wilson tower is given as "100 meters", in reality it is 40 meters. The witness is said to have been "100 meters max" behind the middle of that line, on the side of the ring building. It must have been 70 meters maximum, or else she was inside the ring building park. She would therefore have been at the red dot, just coming out of the passage under the ring building. Indeed the view from this place matches the sketch.

In both drawings, the phenomenon passes from her left to her right. This is what would be interpreted as "Northeast to Southwest," the opposite direction of the debris heading. Even if one thinks of a trajectory that is not parallel to the two buildings like suggested on the sketch (arbitrarily because the distance soulc have changed along the way), there is no match with the debris trajectory.

If we come to the report words, things are even more muddled: the witness said she saw the thing "in front" of her while in "crossing the little square in the center of the semicircle, heading towards the railway station". The semicircle could be the tram tracks and the road outside the station, and the small square could be the "place du General de Gaulle," so she would have been in the area I circled in red. But the "phenomenon" should then have been behind her, not in front of her... She would have had the Wilson tower on the right and the Chamber du Commerce on her left, the opposite from the sketch.

So the phenomenon would have moved from her left to her right in front of her "northeast to the southwest," while to see the rocket debris she should have turned around or looked back and seen it go from her left to her right, Southwest to Northeast in front of her eyes.

What happened? Were an incorrect map and incorrect sketch published? Was she wrong about the trajectory of the phenomenon did it lead to someone creating incorrectly the map and sketch? Who did the map and sketch?

As of the description, it is totally matching the re-entry of space debris; so I suspect that shw was actually close to the station outside Place du General de Gaulle, and looked back and saw the phenomenon move from left to right above the Chambre de Commerce towards the Wilson tower, so indeed from southwest to northeast.

I took some photographs on site (in 2015) to better illustrate the situation.

On the left, the Wilson tower and its 24 floors, on the right, the Chambre de Commerce. The view is taken just as when getting out of the ring building to go to the station, ahead a bit on the left.

The "Général de Gaulle" square outside the station is partially visible, it is behind the trees on the left after the Wilson tower.

The square inside the ring building is behind me. One has to be inside the ring building ground to see it.

This picture corresponds to the sketch given by [fm1]. We see that there is no 100 meters between the tower and the Chamber of Commerce but only 40.

The Chambre de Commerce has two floors.

If this was the position of the witness, there was a problem: he sees the rocket debris before her while it was behind her.

Compared to my satellite view, I am at red dot, I look to the Southeast.

After taking the first photograph I moved ahead. I am at the circles back spot shown on the map given by [fm1]. The Général de Gaulle square in front of the station is more visible.

On my satellite view, I am now at the green spot, looking Southeast.

I stood on the "Place du Gal de Gaulle" square and looked back to see the Wilson tower. The Chambre de Commerce more to my left is hidden by the leaves of the trees, of course the trees had no leaves in November.

I looked to the Northwest; this is where the space debris passed by.

Here I was on the West end of the "Place du Gal de Gaulle" square, actually slightly outside the square, and I am looking back to see the Wilson tower. The Chambre de Commerce on my left is visible under the trees on the left.

I was looking to the Northwest; this is where the space debris passed by.

I stood at the northwest corner of the "Place du Général de Gaulle" square, and faced the Chamber of commerce - left - and the Wilson tower - right. The annular building is in front of me.

This is the opposite of the sketch given by [fm1] and I look to the northwest; this is where the space debris were visible. Was this the true position of observation of the witness? In principle no, everything is inverted compared to the sketch provided by [fm1], and if I advance, I'm not going to the station, but I distance from the station and go back to the ring building...

What to make of all this?

The thesis of some ufologists is that on November 5, 1990, there surely was a "UFO Flap". sone say there was no space junk reentry at all, other claim that the aliens on board numerous UFOs camouflaged their overflight of France by taking the looks of the space junk. To them, each sighting report that differs one way or another from the space junk looks proved this thesis. So to them, this sighting is "incompatible" with the space junk and therefore is one of the sighting that shows alien UFOs imitating the space junk.

To me, this makes no sense at all.

I surely agree that not all of the reports of that entire day is a misinterpretation of the space junk. I see that some of them have other causes. Obviously, when an entire country hears that thousands of people saw a UFO, some people who saw something else are more prone to report it: there are "other witnesses" so they would be called crackpots.

But in all the reports, I do not see a single one that is accurate and reliable and strange enough to prove that even a single alien craft was involved.

And I think that aliens would have had absolutely no reason to "imitate" space junk when there actually was space junk. When space junk enters the sky, a lot of people say it was a UFO and aliens on board. So if they do not want that to happen they would rather choose another day, wouldn't they?

Think at it this way: is there any sense that while space debris flew SW to NE, aliens would fly in the opposite direction to go unnoticed? Wouldn't they fly along the space debris in the correct direction? Or should we understand that aliens are stupid?

What sometimes happens is errors in reports. Not necesarilly witness errors or lies, but misunderstandings between the witness and the second hand or third hand source. I suspect this happened here.

Evaluation:

Space junk reentry.

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 July 8, 2015 Creation, [fm1], [ra1], [sp4].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 8, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on July 8, 2015