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The 1954 French flap:

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August 15, 1954, Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrénées:

Reference number for this case: 15-Aug-54-Tarbes. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

In L'Astronomie, bulletin of the Astronomical Society of France, Volume 68, page 353, of September 1954, a Mr. Claude Morel, Chief Engineer of the Rural Engineering, communicated:

"Having had the opportunity to observe a remarkable bolide, I give you below for all purposes, the description of the phenomenon:"

"Returning by car from Pau to Tarbes in the night of 14 to 15 August 1954 and driving myself, my eyes were attracted by a bright glow to the South, above the Pyrenees: after a split second of hesitation where I thought I was dealing with fireworks, I recognized a bolide moving up and down in a substantially vertical trajectory. The apparent diameter was about equal to a quarter of the diameter of the moon, and it was followed by a 2° to 3° trail giving the impression of a flame, its color was intense emerald green, and whiter sparks of sparkles escaped from the head and trail."

"The trajectory was about 15° and seemed to last a little more than 2 seconds. The bolide suddenly disappeared at 15° above the horizon without bursting and no noise was perceptible. 12, legal time."

"The show was both impressive and splendid."

This was then taken up in "Epistémologie du Phénomène Ovnien ou Cinquante Ans de Déni Scientifique" ("Epistemology of the Ufo Phenomenon or Fifty Years of Scientific Denial"), book by Jacques Costagliola, in 1998.

Reports:

[Ref. ast1:] REVUE "L'ASTRONOMIE":

A nice meteor. -- Mr. Claude MOREL, chief Engineer of the Agricultural engineering, wrote to us:

"Having had the occasion to observe a rather remarkable fireball, I give you hereafter for whatever purpose it may serve, the description of the phenomenon:

Returning by car from Pau to Tarbes in the night from the 14th to the 15th August 1954 and driving, my eyes were attracted by a sharp gleam in the South, above the Pyrenees mountain range: after a split second of hesitation where I believed it was fireworks, I recognized a fireball moving from up to down following an appreciably vertical trajectory. The apparent diameter was about equal to the quarter of the diameter of the Moon, and it was followed of a trail of 2° to 3° giving the impression of a flame; its color was an intense emerald green; whiter showers of sparks escaped from the head and the trail.

The trajectory was of approximately 15° and seemed me to last a little more than 2 seconds. The bolide disappeared suddenly at 15° above the horizon without bursting and without any noise being perceptible. It was exactly midnight 12 minutes, standard time.

The display was at the same time impressive and splendid.

[Ref. jca1:] JACQUES COSTAGLIOLA:

The author indicates that on August 14, 1954 at night at 24:12, C. Morel, chief engineer of the agricultural engineering is in a car goinf from Pau to Tarbes and sees a sharp gleam in the south above the Pyrenees, a bolide moving from top to bottom appreciably to the vertical, of an apparent diameter of a quarter of that of the moon, followed of a trail from 2 to 3 degrees giving the impression of a flame of intense emerald green color, with "whiter shower of sparks of the head and the trail", following a "trajectory of 15° approximately", for more than two seconds, "the bolide disappeared suddenly above the horizon without bursting and without noise.

It was "difficult to follow the meteor: about in the median plane of the segment of line Pau-Tarbes and at the south of this line".

The sky was cloudy and there were clouds masking the Pyrenees.

The source is indicated as "BSAF, 1954 p 354".

Explanations:

Obvious observation of a meteor.

I do not understand the strangeness that should be assumed in the case. Maybe "moving up and down" ("se déplaçant de haut en bas") has been interpreted differently than it probably should be either "moving up to down."

Map.

Keywords:

(These keywords are only to help queries and are not implying anything.)

Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrénées, fast, duration, green, trail, cloudy, sparks

Sources:

[----] indicates sources that are not yet available to me.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross February 14, 2010 First published, [jca1].
1.2 Patrick Gross October 26, 2011 Addition [ast1]. Change of date, from the 14th to the 15th, as [ast1] gives 00:12 in the night of 14th-15th.
1.3 Patrick Gross July 3, 2019 Addition of the Summary

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This page was last updated on July 3, 2019.