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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.

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Case of Fessenheim, on 1970:

Case number:



In an article on the issue of UFO sighting reports, the regional newspaper Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace published an insert stating that "among the approximately 20% of cases remaining unexplained", it happens that some are resolved, much later, and that the ufologist Christian Morgenthaler remembers the "case of Fessenheim", having taken place one night in 1970, when a motorist said he saw a reddish ball rush towards his vehicle while he was driving near Fessenheim.

The newspaper indicated that the frightened motorist narrowly avoided an accident, that the ball seemed to behave intelligently, giving the impression of following the car, and that the investigation carried out had produced no results.

The newspaper adds that reopened some ten years later, scientific knowledge having advanced, the investigation then determined that this "reddish ball" was "a plasma vortex, a kind of small whirlwind of wind", a "climate" phenomenon which "had just been discovered by a British meteorologist."


Temporal data:

Date: 1970
Time: Night.
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1998?
Reporting delay: Day, 2 decades.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Fessenheim
Place: Driving in a car on a road.
Latitude: 47.916
Longitude: 7.537
Uncertainty radius: 5 km.

Witnesses data:

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

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Local ufologist.
Type of location: Driving in a car on a country road.
Visibility conditions: Night.
UFO observed: Yes.
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: ?


Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Totally insufficient information, possible Moon.



In an article about the issue of UFO sighting reports, this newspaper published as an insert:


The case of Fessenheim

Of the approximately 20% of cases that remain unexplained, some may be resolved much later. Christian Morgenthaler remembers the "case of Fessenheim". One night in 1970, a motorist recounts having seen a reddish ball rush towards his vehicle, while he was driving around Fessenheim. Frightened, he narrowly avoided an accident. This ball seemed to have an intelligent behavior, that is to say, it gave the impression of following the car. The investigation carried out will not yield any results. However, it was reopened some ten years later, scientific knowledge having advanced. Thus, this "reddish ball" was nothing else than a plasma vortex, a sort of small whirlwind of wind. This climatic phenomenon had just been discovered by a British meteorologist.



Nothing is known about the case, there is not even a date and time, of course no source. This may be a case on which Christian Morgenthaler, local ufologist, would have intervened.

My jaw dropped when I read the "explanation"; probably few readers would immediately understand why, so I want to explain myself.

A well-known thing is that in England, from 1978 on, what became known as "crop circles" "appeared" in the fields. People passing through the countryside discovered circular areas in the fields where the cereals had been flattened. British ufologists had quickly noted that anyone could flatten cereals to make these "circles", but several amateurs of "mysteries" had considered that the flattened cereal circles were proof that flying saucers had landed there.

It was actually the work of two pranksters, retired, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley. Bower had lived in Australia and had heard there of the famous case of Tully, in which the reeds of a pond had been like "sucked up" on a circular surface, in conjunction with a UFO sighting report at the place.

This gave him the idea of a good prank which had little success initially, but which ended up taking on huge proportions.

The debates on these "crop circles" quickly raged, "experts" came forward, including one George Terence Meaden. He was an author writing about "archaeo-astronomy", defending for example that the megalithic stones of Stonehenge in England were oriented not at random, but to mark the solstices. He had a doctorate, not in meteorology, but in physics, and a master's degree in archeology, obtained at the University of Oxford.

As the "crop circles" at that time were located in the same area as the megaliths he was studying, this new mystery interested him. But there was no way he would agree about "flying saucers", UFOs or other "mysterous cause", he intended to give a scientific explanation to the phenomenon. He did not understand that the circles were human works, and concocted that they were created by "vortices", more prosaically, "whirlpools". This is how he was then presented as a meteorologist.

Of course, his theory did not convince many: one agrued against it that "lights" were seen before the "appearance" of the crop circles; which was a half-truth in more ways than one. On the one hand, "lighjts" were only rarely reported, on the other hand, when one checks out the said "lights", we can explain them as tractors headlights, ordinary reflections, astronomical misinterpretations (Mars, Venus...) but we find nothing that can really support that there is a real connection between any really intriguing "lights" and the finding of a concomitant "crop circle."

Meaden was undeterred, and set foot on a fairly delirious path to defend his theory: the "vortices" that create crop circles, he claimed, spin so fast that they ionize the air which therefore becomes luminous... Which notion is just fantasy.

And this is how one began to speak, for cases like the one mentioned here, of a "new" "scientific explanation", by a "meteorologist"!

For the record, Meaden's setbacks have taken on yet another dimension.

Bower and Chorley had of course heard of the "scientific" "vortex" theory that was being talked about in the newspapers. Obviously, a "vortex", a whirlpool, corresponded, at least, to the circular shape that all the "crop circles" showed back then.

Bower and Chorley then simply made... triangular crop circles! Which embarrassed Meaden, of course.

On the other hand, it gave ideas to others, who had also started making crop circles - initially, it was often to check whether it was feasible or not, how long it took, whether one was necessarily "seen" doing them or not. But very quickly, others turned it into a form of landscape art, multiplying the shapes and the complexity of the figures: circles instead of rounds, interlocking circles, crosses, geometric symbols of all kinds, "ACDC" logos, messages to aliens and so on.

Serious ufologists understood, especially since Bower and Chorley had made a crop-circle-making demonstration in front of journalists, who then listened to the "experts" declaring them "authentic". But that didn't stop the fuss, and still now, even if nobody talks about cereals flattened by saucers that landed, many "new age" authors write piles of books on the "crop circles" made either by "the military with laser beams", or by "a superior intelligence", and so on.

Note: certainly, I did in no way justify here what I am explaining above: but I do it elsewhere, in my pages devoted to this phenomenon of the "crop circles".

As for this case in Fessenheim... what could be said for sure? I have not been able to find anything else about it so far, and the brief insert in the press is not enough to understand what it was about.

I can only say that there are precedents for "a car followed by mysterious light" which have been very well explained (no, not all such cases) by a misinterpretation caused by the Moon, sometimes rendered quite unrecognizable by a reddish hue, a low elevation, or by being partly obscured by clouds.


Totally insufficient information, possible Moon.

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 February 10, 2023 Creation, [dna1].
1.0 Patrick Gross February 10, 2023 First published.

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This page was last updated on February 10, 2023.