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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 Valff, on November 5, 1990:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1990-11-05-VALFF-1

Summary:

There was in the newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace for November 7, 1990, a story of a witness of the observation of November 5, 1990, Mr. Jean-Paul Blind from Valff, who had observed the appearance for 15 to 30 seconds.

He is quoted as saying he saw the lights above the Mount Sainte Odile heading to Strasbourg, it was like two large white lights followed by a big trail and flanked by eight to ten reddish lights resembling sidelights.

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: 15 to 30 seconds.
First known report date: November 7, 1990
Reporting delay: 2 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Valff
Place: ?
Latitude: 48.421
Longitude: 7.520
Uncertainty ratio: 30 km

Witnesses data:

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

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Statement to the regional Press.
Type of location: ?
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.
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Space junk reentry.

Sources:

[Ref. dn2:] "DERNIERES NOUVELLES D'ALSACE" NEWSPAPER:

Weird

The mysterious lights in the sky...

Meteorite, satellite fall, UFOs ... Scientists put forward several hypotheses.
The National Space Agency launches investigation

But what has happened the sky of Alsace on Monday night? Did a large meteorite disintegrate on re-entering the atmosphere over France? Did a satellite crash on Earth? Or a piece of rocket? A space station? Or... or did aliens (if they exist - and we do not yet have proof of that) want to impress earthlings by an exceptional luminous "show"? Let's be serious. And keep our feet on Earth.

Still, the UFO of Monday, observed in the Alsatian sky and in several European countries, provides a hard time to scientists. While some experts have a priori plausible explanations, others are less certain and are reluctant to rule in favor of one hypothesis. The least that can be said is that the Alsatian testimonies we gathered all day at the DNA are rather puzzling...

The UFO Monday night was a meteorite that exploded on re-entering the atmosphere, said yesterday a spokesman for the Popular observatory of Munich. The object moved from east to west and was followed by a trail of smoke. Scientists await more detailed information on the luminous phenomenon from 25 automatic cameras installed in southern Germany to watch the meteor appearances. In a few days, experts hope to determine the exact trajectory of the object and locate the point of impact where some fragments of the meteorite of Monday could be found. This is the apparently logical and plausible explanation of the strange phenomenon of the other night.

"Passed by a shooting star"

And the observation of a pilot on the Brussels-Frankfurt route would confirm "the German hypothesis". He asserts [that] shortly after 7 p.m. his plane was passed by "a shooting star" that erupted in a dozen pieces, some of which had the glow of the full moon.

But here it is. The return of a meteorite in the atmosphere is a rapid phenomenon that lasts at most a few seconds. And all the evidence that we collected yesterday in the "Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace" - and there were about twenty - reported a slow process that has lasted, for some, twenty seconds, for others, up to two-three minutes.

"I observed the appearance for 15 to 30 seconds," said Jean-Paul Blind of Valff. "I saw the lights above the Mount Sainte-Odile heading to Strasbourg. It was like two large white lights followed by a big trail and flanked of 8 to 10 reddish lights resembling side lights."

"The apparition lasted 30 to 40 seconds, says Jean-Marie Keller of Batzendorf who saw the phenomenon "moving from the southwest to the northwest in the direction of Germany. The speed of the object was controlled, it has not made a sound. The lights of which one was larger were white. At the back there was another headlight that lit and extinguished periodically. And I've seen a dozen other lights..."

"They were three V-shaped objects that came from Saverne and headed for Germany," says Mr. Ferry of Hochfelden. "Behind, there was a fourth light" and the diamond shape was "followed by at least 9 other bright spots. The object flew over the sky for three minutes before disappearing."

A "large sphere"

Even more fantastic, the testimony of Mrs. Clouet, of Neufgrange, who observed Monday night around 7:05 p.m. a "big dark sphere suspended in the sky, covered of many square illuminated portholes like windows. As the sphere was motionless, 6 to 7 luminous balls followed by a trail moved away in the sky. I was very impressed, so was my 7-year-old son Michael, who accompanied me, but I was not afraid..."

For Pierre Neirinck of Dunkirk, member of the Tracking Committee of the British Royal society, the mystery is explained: "The intriguing procession of multicolored lights observed over western Europe was characteristic of the disintegration of an artificial satellite." The report by Mr. Karcher of Wittenheim (see DNA for yesterday) "confirms the dozen decays followed since 1960. It is easy to differentiate a satellite from a meteor: the satellite crosses the sky in a little more than one minute, the fireball does it in 2 to 20 seconds..." After analyzing several witnesses reports, the fall of a satellite or rocket remains is the most plausible explanation of the phenomenon for Mr. Karcher.

F 117 planes?

Other hypotheses have been advanced such as the overflight of France by a patrol of the famous invisible F 117 aircraft that would have been at the origin of UFOs of Belgium in April...

Mrs. Acker, director of the Strasbourg planetarium, sticks, for now, to scientific explanations, while admitting that the slowness of the phenomenon is intriguing. It is the same with Christian Morgenthaler of the association "Lumières dans la nuit" (delegation for UFOs in North Alsace), who aims to collect a maximum of testimonies about this strange phenomenon, in cooperation with SEPRA (Service of study of the phenomena of atmospheric re-entry) of the National Centre for Space Studies (*).

CNES has by the way also announced last night the opening of an investigation into the luminous phenomenon that seems at least strange. At this stage it is not possible to decide on the exact origin of this event, said a statement from CNES. The sky still keeps its mystery. For how long?

Willy BODENMULLER


(*) Christian Morgenthaler, 3, rue des Pierres, 67520 Odratzheim, phone 88 50 64 26.

[Ref. fm1:] FRANCK MARIE:

JN ??H?? 67 VALFF (Obernai) (30 s)

48°25n -7°31e 1 witness (Dern. Nouv. d'Alsace, for 11/7/90)

"I observed the appearance for 15 to 30 seconds", tells Mr. Jean-Paul B. de Valff.

"I saw the lights above the mount Sainte-Odile going towards Strasbourg. It was like two large white headlights followed of a big trail and flanked of 8 to 10 reddish lights resembling sidelights."

  • Transit: SW/NE, passage at the NW (15°/H), at 8/9 km
  • 2 white headlights flanked of 8 to 10 reddish lights

[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

________________________________________

67D;VALFF; 48.42;-7.52
;25;NE;NO
15;; 983/-34
2 white headlights leaving trails with 8 to 10 reddish lights at the sides

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, everything fits again with the return of the remains of the Russian rocket, however, no time is given in the sources I have, and even the location is subject to caution: the newspaper said that the witness is "from Valff" but this does not necessarily imply that he was there at the time of his observation.

It would be logical, however, as Mont Saint-Odile is West-North-West deom Valff, Strasbourg in the Northeast; which would match the apparent trajectory of the debris viewed from Valff.

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
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross May 22, 2015 Creation, [dn2], [fm1], [ra1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 22, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on May 22, 2015