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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 Saint-Amarin, on November 5, 1990:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1995-11-05-STAMARIN-1

Summary:

By a letter on November 9, 1990, a man shared his testimony about what his wife and him observed on November 5, 1990, at about 7 p.m.

They were outside in Saint-Amarin when their gaze was attracted bright lights almost above them, in the West.

The man initially thought they were fireworks rocket, but quickly realized that it was not that. He observed many points of light that appeared round to him, orange-red color, the size of the largest stars that were visible in the sky. He was unable to count them, he thought they were about twenty.

These points were followed by very long trails of intense white-bluish light of unequal length. One of the trails, located approximately in the center, seemed much wider than the others.

All the points moved on parallel lines along a west to east trajectory, at a relatively slow speed, much like an airliner.

The points were not aligned, some more advanced than others. He thought the phenomenon seemed to be at a relatively low altitude.

All of these points and trailed occupied a very large part of the sky and they were very surprised by the size and intensity of the light emitted. They heard no noise.

The phenomenon disappeared behind the mountains, with the trails fading and becoming smaller in the eastward move.

The report was illustrated with this sketch:

Scan

The man found this show very beautiful, and specifies they had never seen anything like it before.

They were quite intrigued by this phenomenon, so at about 7:12 p.m. the man phoned to the gendarmerie of Fellering to report what they had just seen.

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: ~07:00 p.m.
Duration: 1 minutes.
First known report date: November 5, 1990
Reporting delay: 4 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Saint-Amarin
Place: Outside in Saint-Amarin, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.873
Longitude: 7.029
Uncertainty ratio: 1 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: ?
Witness(es) ages: Adults or aged.
Witness(es) types: Married couple.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Letter.
Type of location: Outside in 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): Yes.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): Yes.
Witness(es) feelings: Marveled, puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Space junk reentry.

Sources:

[Ref. fm1:] FRANCK MARIE:

JP 19H00 68 SAINT-AMARIN (1 mn)

47°53n -7°01e 2 witnesses (Letter of 11/09/90)

"I come to share my testimony about what my wife and I have observed on the evening of November 5, 1990. I was outside in St-Amarin with my wife. It was about 7:00 p.m. when our gaze was attracted to almost above us, in the west, by bright lights that I initially took for fireworks rocket. I quickly realized that it was not that. I observed many points of light that appeared round to me, orange-red in color, of the size of the largest stars that can be seen in the sky.

These points were followed by very long trails of intense bluish white light of unequal length. One of the trails, located approximately in the center, seemed much wider than the others.

It was impossible for me to count, I had the impression that there were about twenty spots and streaks. All these points moved on parallel lines along a west / east trajectory, at a relatively slow speed, much like an airliner. The dots were not aligned, some more advanced than the others. The phenomenon seemed to be at a relatively low altitude... All of these points and trails occupied a very large part of the sky and we were very surprised by the size and intensity of the light emitted. We head no noise.

The show was very beautiful and we had never seen anything like it until now... It disappeared behind the mountains, the trails fading and getting smaller in this eastward move.

We were quite intrigued by this phenomenon, so I decided to phone the gendarmerie of Fellering to report what we had just seen. He must then have been 7:12 p.m. (+ - 2 min)..."

  • Transit: W/E, passage at the zenith, altitude relatively low
  • Round red-orange luminous dots (about twenty) (size: Venus)
  • Very long white bluish trails, including a thicker one
  • Impressive dimensions; very large portion of the sky.
  • See: EE(33), EK(36), EL(36), JS(68), JX(68), JZ(68), LI(74).
  • The witnesses reject the official explanation for this precise case.

The report was 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

________________________________________

68B;SAINT-AMARIN; 47.88;-7.02
19H00+-;60;E;N
90;; 921/-68
Red-orangeish lights in triangle, big at the front, with white-bluish 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.

For this observation, it is totally obvious that the couple saw the entry in the atmosphere of the Russian rocket debris that night. Absolutely everything is consistent with it, and if there had been a "UFO" in the sky then, one wonders why the witnesses did not also see the burning remains of the Russian rocket.

Franck Marie found it useful to mention that the witnesses had rejected the "official explanation", as if this restored the "legitimacy" of the sighting in support of his idea that there had been there actually a "wave of 400 UFOs all over France."

But in fact, there were several consecutive "official explanations", and given the date of the letter, the explanation the witnesses had rejected was the first one offered; which was that the thing was a meteor.

Well, the witnesses were right, it was not a meteor; but Franck Marie's readers may obviously be misled to believing that what the witnesses had rejected was the next explanation, the correct one, that of the entry into the atmosphere of the debris of the Russian rocket. It may well be that the witnesses later accepted that new, correct explanation!

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 21, 2015 Creation, [fm1], [ra1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 21, 2015 First published.

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