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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 Ruelisheim, on November 5, 1990:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1995-11-05-RUELISHEIM-1

Summary:

In his book on what he thought was a wave of UFO on November 5, 1990, over France, ufologist Franck Marie cited an observation of one minute in Ruelisheim in the Haut-Rhin, by one witness who reported his observation by a letter on November 13, 1990.

The witness said he saw coming in his direction in the sky luminous objects coming from the Belfort Gap and going towards Germany.

It was seven dots of light moving silently, faster than a jet plane, parallel to each other, leaving a colorful trail behind them.

The story is illustrated by this sketch:

Scan

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: ?
Duration: 1 minutes.
First known report date: November 13, 1990
Reporting delay: 8 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Ruelisheim
Place: ?
Latitude: 47.823
Longitude: 7.358
Uncertainty ratio: 1 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: ?
Witness(es) ages: ?
Witness(es) types: ?

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Letter.
Type of location: ?
Visibility conditions: ?
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: Yes
UFO departure observed: Yes
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): Yes.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): >Yes.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Space junk reentry.

Sources:

[Ref. fm1:] FRANCK MARIE:

JZ 11:?? 68 RUELISHEIM (Wittenheim) (1 mn)

47°50n -7°21e 1 witness (Letter of 11/13/90)

"I saw arriving in the sky luminous objects going towards Germany coming from the Belfort Gap. These luminous dots (about 7) moved noiselessly faster than a jet plane, parallel to themselves, leaving a colorful trail behind them..."

  • Transit: W/E, passage at the zenith, very close to the ground
  • 7 big lights followed of a big multicolored trail

The report is illustrated of 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

________________________________________

68L;RUELISHEIM; 47.83;-7.35
;60;E;N
90;; 940/-85
About 7 bigs lights leaving multicolored trails

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.

In this case, the hour and many detailed information is missing; but all that is available is consistent with the return of the Russian rocket debris.

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 May 29, 2015 Creation, [fm1], [ra1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 29, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on May 29, 2015