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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 Sierentz, on May 25, 2009:

Case number:

ALSACAT-2009-05-25-SIERENTZ-1

Summary:

On two non-ufological websites, it was reported that the Sierentz residents had a big fright.

It is noted that according to L'Alsace, on May 25, 2009, at 11 p.m., a woman who wanted to go to bed wanted to open the windows because of the heat and then saw a big bright orange ball of light the size of a full moon. She said to herself "it's not a star, it's too big."

The ball did not flash, and was followed by others. She calls her "very Cartesian husband, who could not believe his eyes and things that obviously something weird is going on."

First in line, the orange balls create a triangle formation and go towards the town of Kembs.

The lady thinks she "had the time to take some pictures, but the battery was discharged." The camera's memory card was entrusted to the Sierentz policemen who went there.

A neighbor also witnessed the phenomenon. L'Alsace indicated that it would just be balloons or planes.

The second website indicates that the gendarmerie in Sierentz advised reading Wednesday's newspaper. Indeed the explanation was given there by a reader who informs that "On Saturday, my grandson married. And we made paper lanterns in which we put a candle, fly."

The Alsatian ufology association SPICA also published about the observation in Sierentz, but dated May 23, 2009, stating that it came from an article in the newspaper L'Alsace of Saint Louis on May 27, 2009.

A witness had observed from 11:10 p.m. on, an orange ball of light, quite big, stationed in the sky.

She came out to see better after waking her husband, and both observed other smaller balls that came to join the first and place themselves n a triangle.

The balls left towards Kembs in triangular formation. The triangular formation would have lasted 2 minutes.

The woman had made a statement to the police who came to see her the next morning and apparently took the three or four pictures that the woman had taken, promising to return them the next day, the 25th.

In the night around 10:10 p.m., the witness phone L'Alsace or SPICA, to tell that a neighbor woman had also seen the phenomenon, and that according to this new witness, "threads hung after the balls", and this new witness was ready to testify.

The SPICA then indicated that the case had been caused by "hot air balloons for a wedding."

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: May 25, 2009
Time: 11:00 p.m.
Duration: ?
First known report date: May 27, 2009
Reporting delay: None.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Sierentz
Place: From bedroom, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.653
Longitude: 7.454
Uncertainty ratio: 2 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 3
Number of known witnesses: 1 to 3
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults or aged.
Witness(es) types: A married couple, a female neighbor.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Gendarmerie then the regional Press.
Type of location: From bedroom, UFO in the sky.
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: Not stars.

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Chinese lanterns.

Sources:

[Ref. ca1:] FORUM "LE CERCLE DES AMIS":

Subject: ufos in Upper Alsace: an explanation let's say, bridal ... Wed., May 27, 2009 - 2:16 p.m.

Monday, May 25, 11 p.m. Sierentz in the Haut-Rhin. Big scare for residents.

Before going to bed M. wants to open the windows because of the heat which prevails, she told to L'Alsace.

Then she saw a big bright orange ball of light the size of a full moon, "I told to myself that it's not a star, it's too big."

It does not blink. Others follow ...

She calls her very Cartesian husband, who does not believe his eyes and surrenders to the evidence that something weird is going on.

First in line, these orange balls create a triangle formation and go towards the town of Kembs.

M. takes a camera, specified L'Alsace: "I think I had time to take some pictures, but the battery was discharged." She handed the memory card from her camera to the Sierentz gendarmes who came over.

A neighbor also witnessed the phenomenon.

According to the police, it would simply be balloons or aircraft, L'Alsace adds.

[Ref. ew1:] "EDITOWEB":

UFOs in Upper Alsace: an explanation, let's say, bridal

Le Post: Monday 11 p.m.. Sierentz in the Haut-Rhin. Big scare for the residents. Contacted, the gendarmerie Sierentz advises us to check... today's newspaper Wednesday: "You'll see, you'll laugh!". Immediately, Jeloga forwards the article, and indeed the explanation on the passage of these orange balls is somewhat unusual! A reader of L'Alsace wrote to the newspaper to lift the veil: "On Saturday, my grandson married. And we made paper lanterns in which we placed a candle fly." Like L'Alsace does, we send all our wishes to the newlyweds, and to the aliens too.

Discussion:

I would like to recall that three points always form a triangle, by definition. It can thus be inferred that the mention of a "triangular formation" would indicate that there were three lanterns.

I suppose the explanation "hot air balloon" - "montgolfière" in French - comes from the newspaper. The term should not be used as such. The mental image of a hot air balloon does not correspond to the effect a Chinese lantern produces, and there have been cases where the witnesses, in good faith, denied having seen "hot air balloons", protesting that they saw "orange fireballs." One should blind-test witnesses with some video of Chinese lanterns, and ask if it looks like what they saw, and then one should explain exactly what a Chinese lantern is. Although they take off on the same principle as the hot air balloons, the resemblance ends there.

Chinese lanterns are one cause of some old tales of UFO sightings: During the "airship" wave of 1896 - 1897 in the USA, during the wave of 1972 in the US Midwest, etc.

Since these miniature hot air paper balloons can be ordered on the Internet at very low cost - they also commonly found in Alsace now in stores - there is no need anymore to take the trouble of manufacturing them yourself.

So since 2005, about everywhere and of course in Alsace, many people who do not yet know about them report them as UFOs or at least as a subject of puzzlement: "It was not planes, not satellites, not helicopters, etc...", commonly appears in the stories. Indeed they aren't.

In principle, any ufologist worthy of the title should be able to recognize a story related for sure or at least possibly to Chinese lanterns, but there are still ufologists who do not want to listen, or quibble, demanding that a guilty lantern is handed to them otherwise they want the story to remain a "UFO report".

Most of the time, I certainly cannot "scientifically prove" or provide "hard evidence" that this or that report is explained by Chinese lanterns; but I see nothing opposes it and nothing would justify to call it spacecraft from another world or who knows what else.

It is sometimes possible to find that there was, precisely at that time, in the vicinity, a release of lanterns, during a party, a wedding party, a birthday party etc. But these releases are now so usual in Alsace at least that they are not necessarily mentioned on festivity calendars.

Since 2005, they constitute the bulk of the "testimonies" of UFOs found on websites devoted to the subject of UFOs and essentially publishing such "web report"; generally the only treatment is the publication, without any information on a possible cause, without any investigation or comment.

In Alsace, such releases are especially popular now since fireworks and firecrackers, long tolerated, are now prohibited for use unless special exemptions; Alsatians therefore largely adopted the lanterns.

As these lanterns are usually released at private or public parties, they are most often seen on Saturday nights, often at wedding dates or official festivities such as the National Day or New Year's Eve, usually between 10 p.m. and midnight. They are then usually released in clusters. But sometimes the purchaser performs a "test flight" a few days before, sometimes with a single lantern.

Above:

A Chinese lantern.


Above:

A "Montgolfière" hot air balloon.

Evaluation:

Chinese lanterns.

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 10, 2015 Creation, [ca1], [ew1].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 10, 2015 First published.
0.1 Patrick Gross March 9, 2016 Additions [sp1], [sp4], additions about these two sources in the Summary. Addition of the 2 first paragraphs in the Discussion.

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This page was last updated on March 9, 2016