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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 Wahlenheim, on November 5, 1990:

Case number:



In a November 18, 1990, article detailing the passage of Russian rocket debris (which some ufologists still want to call a "wave of UFOs") in the skies of France on November 5, 1990, the newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace gave one of the testimonies of their readers that they had collected.

Mr. L. W. of Wahlenheim had written to them that they had first seen a strong white light, and a few moments later he distinguished "two other bright spots on both sides of the white light. These two lights are less intense and changed one towards the blue, the other towards the orange..."

Then followed "other white lights, much smaller than the other three, with trails". When the phenomenon moved away towards Haguenau, so to the northeast, they saw "trails behind the three big balls, of rather yellow than white hue... The whole was moving without audible noise at the apparent speed of an airplabe approaching a runway."


Temporal data:

Date: November 5, 1990
Time: ?
Duration: ?
First known report date: November 18, 1990
Reporting delay: Days.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Wahlenheim
Place: ?
Latitude: 48.764
Longitude: 7.685
Uncertainty ratio: 500 m

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2 or more.
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: ?
Witness(es) types: ?

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Reported to the regional Press after newspaper's call for witnesses.
Type of location: ?
Visibility conditions: ?
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): ?
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): ?
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?


Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Space junk re-entry.





Space - The mystery of the "balls of fire" lifted

The last moments of a Russian rocket

A hundred written testimonials and about as many telephone calls - this is the result of our "UFO Operation" following the luminous phenomenon observed by many people in the evening of November 5 in the sky of Alsace. From Mulhouse to Wissembourg, our readers mobilized. Witnesses of this unusual apparition, they played reporters by telling, sometimes with astonishing precision, their observations often accompanied by sketches and drawings.

We thank them. All these documents constitute a wealth of exceptional information that we transmit to the National Center for Space Studies (CNES). At the Service of expertise for the phenomena of atmospheric reentry (SEPRA) in Toulouse, these "investigations" by our readers will make it possible to better understand this phenomenon which was due to the fall of a piece of Soviet rocket (cf. DNA of 11/10/90) *).

Obviously, the Martians did not land on this evening of November 5 and the extraterrestrials have not yet integrated us to the galactic empire - no offense to Rael, "the messenger" of the extraterrestrials, who participated on Tuesday at TF1 [TV channel] to a show devoted to the UFO of November 5 and whose movement held a conference Friday evening at the faculty of letters of Strasbourg to "share a key message for humanity."

Obviously, the phenomenon was also not caused by the fall and bursting of a meteorite in the Earth's atmosphere. The hypothesis put forward a few hours after the event by German astronomers in Munich was therefore wrong. Let us note here that it was not professional astronomers who supported this thesis, but the spokesperson of the popular observatory which gathers mainly amateurs and sky buffs.

On the other hand, Daniel Karcher, of Wittenheim, who regularly informs our readers about the periods of visibility of satellites and space stations, was right in stating as early as November 5 that the phenomenon was due to the fall of a satellite or a stage of a recently launched rocket. In the absence of precise information from the authorities or space centers, there was, however, some hesitation - and many questions.

From Pau to Strasbourg

On Friday, 9 November, CNES issued a communiqué stating that "the object registered 20925/1990 / 094C, the third floor of a Soviet launcher, lying on a waiting trajectory, came down again on November 5 at 7 p.m." and crossed France, in its final phase, on a line Pau-Strasbourg. On the same day, the German newspaper "Bild" provides the same explanation by citing American sources. For the US experts, the phenomenon took place at 07:06 p.m., but it was observed above Alsace at 07:01 p.m. ...

Where does this gap come from? According to Mr. Karcher, who calculated the re-entry path of the object, 07:06 p.m. was the time of impact, the moment the last debris (if any) touched the ground. The third floor would indeed have flown over the Bay of Biscay at an altitude of 110 km to then go to Royan and Nevers. At 07:01 p.m., the object is located above St-Dié, a few seconds later it flies over Geispolsheim south of Strasbourg at an altitude of 83 km, a minute later over Nuremberg (the phenomenon was well observed in Northern Bavaria). At 7:03 p.m. it passed south of Prague. At 07:05 p.m. north of Kiev to reach at 07:06 p.m. an area located 450 km south of Moscow.

The object, the size of a bus, was the third floor of a Proton rocket that was to put into orbit, on November 3, the telecommunications satellite Gorizont 21. "The object was a cylinder long of 10 to 15 meters with a diameter of 3 to 4 meters weighing a few tons", explained the other day Daniel Metzlé, head of the press service of CNES in charge of the symposium on French space policy at the Sorbonne. "Imagine that since the times of Sputnik there are now 7,500 objects that gravitate around the Earth, of which 1,500 are active." No wonder that from time to time they surprise us with heavenly fireworks - multicolored balls of light, sparks, luminous trails, etc., disintegrating on entering the atmosphere as on the evening of November 5th.

First, "we saw a strong white light," writes Mr. L.W. of Wahlenheim, who distinguishes a few moments later "two other bright spots on both sides of the white light. These two lights are less intense by turning one towards the bluish, the other towards the orange... Then follow other white lights (much smaller than the other three) with trails." When the phenomenon is moving towards Haguenau, so to the northeast, "we see trails behind the three big balls, rather yellow than white... The set was moving without audible noise at apparent speed of an airplane approaching the runway."

Most of our readers have been fascinated by the "magical and supernatural beauty" of the show, by the "silence" of this "celestial firework"... In a very short time, we may again be witnessing such a display, when next January the Soviet station Salyut 7 will return to Earth, provided that the trajectory passes at that moment over France...


(*) The association "Lumières dans la nuit" (ufos - North Alsace section, M. Christian Morgenthaler, Odratzheim, phone. 88 50 64 26) also communicated to us the result of their investigations.

Salyut 7 above Alsace

The unoccupied Salyut 7 space station currently gravitates at 300 km altitude around the Earth. It will gradually approach our planet: its fall in the atmosphere is expected by the end of January. These days, the station is visible as a bright star in the Alsatian sky. Mr. Karcher has just given us the following hours of passage: Sunday, November 18, 05:51 p.m. at 43° above the northern horizon; 19, 06:06 p.m., 43 ° N; 20, 06:21 p.m., 53° N; 21, 06:36 p.m. at the zenith; 22, 04:15 p.m., 48° N; 11:48 p.m., 30° west.


Wahlenheim is about 20 km north of Strasbourg.

This is one of the many testimonies relating to the re-entry of space junk, as explained in the cited newspaper.

Since we do not know what Mr. L.W. had thought or decided about what he had seen, it may be a "negative" case, that is, a case for which the witness himself correctly identified what he saw.


Space junk re-entry.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:


Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross July 7, 2018 Creation, [dn11].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 7, 2018 First published.

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This page was last updated on July 7, 2018.