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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 the Taennchel, on March 16, 1977:

Case number:



The regional newspaper L'Alsace for March 17, 1977, reported that a group of amateur astronomers from Mulhouse had observed the day before, thus on March 16, 1977, over the valley of Thann, six unidentified flying objects; which were, according to them, visible to the naked eye from 8:30 to 9:30. One of the objects, orange in color, had the shape of a cigar, the others were cubic.

The next day, March 18, 1977, L'Alsace headlined that UFOs were seen everywhere, "bananas, cigars, cubes...". The newspaper recalled what they had published the day before, and explained that this information had triggered many reactions the day before, as a dozen people claimed to have also seen UFOs.

The newspaper quoted other testimonies. One of them was from a reader living in Riedisheim, who told he had also seen a UFO on March 16, 1977, in the morning, over La Vancelle. In the company of his son and a friend, he was at the Taennchel, watching the ruins of Frankenburg castle with binoculars, when he saw - as his companions did - a sort of huge balloon of a very intense white color above the ruins, a little away from the castle.

On March 20, 1977, L'Alsace explained that these UFOs were probably a fragment of the "Pagéos" satellite. It was a young scientist, Mr. Daniel Karcher, who had been an observer at the Meudon satellite observatory, who told them that the observations in the newspaper may relate to the passage of that satellite-balloon in orbit since 1966; which exploded in July 1975, leaving about 80 fragments, some of which were falling back now. The object that people had seen in the sky was a piece of the big Mylar envelope, rotating on itself, clearly visible to the naked eye at times, until mid-April. The revolution period was 178.8 minutes, and it was currently visible between 05:03 p.m. and 09:13 p.m. eastward at 60 degrees of elevation; and from 06:03 p.m. to 09:03 p.m. at 58 degrees, and from 07:03 p.m. to 08:54 p.m. at 56 degrees.

The passages lasted about 25 minutes from horizon to horizon, the direction was from South to North, and they were at times invisible to the naked eye.

He explained that many features described by the readers of Sausheim and Riedisheim can be explained by the passage of the satellite: its stellar appearance, its variable brightness. He explained that the altitude given is fanciful because it is impossible to really determine it like this. The different forms can be explained by chromatic aberrations, frequent with binoculars.


Temporal data:

Date: March 16, 1977
Time: Morning.
Duration: 1 hour.
First known report date: March 17, 1977
Reporting delay: Hour, 1 day.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Thannenkirch
Place: From the Taennchel.
Latitude: 48.240
Longitude: 7.270
Uncertainty radius: 2 km.

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 3
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults.
Witness(es) types: Man, his son, a friend.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: To the REgional newspaper L'Alsace.
Type of location: Mountain.
Visibility conditions: Morning.
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: ?


Hynek: DD
ALSACAT: Unidentified, totally insufficient information.


[Ref. lae1:] NEWSPAPER "L'ALSACE":

UFO above Thann

A group of amateur astronomers of Mulhouse observed yesterday evening above the valley of Thann 6 unidentified flying objects. The phenomenon was visible according to them from 8:30 to 9:30 and could even be seen with the naked eye. One of the objects of orange color was reportedly cigar shaped; the others were cube-shaped.

[Ref. lae2:] NEWSPAPER "L'ALSACE":

UFOs, seen everywhere:
Bananas, cigars, cubes...

Wednesday morning, you read this in our columns yesterday, a group of amateur astronomers from Mulhouse observed in the sky of Thann a group of UFO: an orange object in the shape of a cigar, the others being rather cubical.

This information yesterday triggered many reactions: ten people claiming to have seen UFOs also. Among them, two people whose testimony is here:

A resident of Sausheim told us he observed several times recently and again on Wednesday a luminous flying object which, axxording to his estimates, must have been each time in the sky at about 2 km altitude in the Thann-Cernay region. This reader, a trustworthy man, never wanted to tell anyone about this, for fear of ridicule, and it is only after reading our article yesterday that he reacted.

"From the window of the building where I live", he says, "I can sometimes follow with the binocular the moves of a UFO that moves generally northward from the mount of the Rossberg. It is not a cube-shaped object, but rather a sort of luminous banana so that one could at times confuse it with a star. Yesterday evening, the UFO suddenly went off, and for a while I realized it was like hanging under a trapezoidal, or triangular shape. The duration of the phenomenon? More than half an hour some evenings."

Another reader, who lives in Riedisheim, saw Wednesday morning a UFO above La Vancelle. With his son and a friend, this reader was at the Taennchel, watching with binoculars the ruined castle of Frankenbourg, when he saw, like his companions, like -a sort of huge white balloon, of an intense shine above the ruins, a little away from the castle.

[Ref. lae3:] NEWSPAPER "L'ALSACE":

UFOs: probably a fragment of the "PAGEOS" satellite

UFOs. They were called "flying saucers" not so long ago.

But then, the craft that people thought they saw in the sky were shaped like saucers. the craft that are currently reported in the firmament of the day and night, have odd shapes that are disks, but more often cubes, trapezes, cigars or triangles. A young scientist, Dr. D. K. was an observer at the Meudon Observatory, satellite service, and is uniquely qualified to speak. He says:

"The sightings published in "L'Alsace" may relate to the passage of the satellite-balloon "Pageos" in orbit since 1966, which exploded in July 1975, leaving about 80 fragments, some of which fell at now. The currently visible object in the sky is a piece of the envelope (mylar) of large size, rotating on itself and clearly visible to the naked eye at times, until mid-April. Revolution period 178.8 minutes.

Current schedule: 05:03 p.m. - 09:13 p.m. (standard time) in the east at 60 degrees up; 06:03 p.m.. - 09:03 p.m. at 58 degrees 07:03 p.m. - 08:54 p.m. at 56 degrees.

These passings take about 25 minutes from horizon to horizon. Direction: South to North, at times invisible to the naked eye.

Many features described by your readers (Sausheim and Riedisheim) can be explained by the satellite pass (stellar aspect, variable brightness). Altitude is fantasy because it is impossible to be determined directly. The different aspects (bananas, trapeze...) can be explained by chromatic aberrations common to binoculars."

[Ref. lae4:] NEWSPAPER "L'ALSACE":

Epidemic of UFO in the Vosges?

Thann. -- An outbreak of UFO appeared in the Vosges mountains and especially in the Thur valley where ten people were intrigued during the week by lumninous objects. This phenomenon; which usually lasted about thirty minutes, would have been caused, according to some opinions, by fragments of a balloon satellite that exploded and which currently falls back to earth.

However, the last observation made by a family in St. Amarin, could invalidate the hypothesis of the balloon. Indeed, the UFO observed by these people on Saturday night at 08:30 p.m. on at Fellering would have "moved below the line of ridges. If it were a balloon envelope, it would certainement not have been lit at this low altitude, and probably would not have stayed in the air for half an hour. Mystery...



Ref. F/00/68/77 03 16 (01)

On Wednesday March 15, in the morning, 3 residents of Riedisheim (68) saw a sort of enormous white balloon with a strong glow above the ruins of the castle of Frankenburg with binoculars.

Possible explanation: weather balloon?

Source: newspaper l'Alsace 03/18/77 in "UFOLOGIA" nr 9 page 6.


Former journalist Christian Valentin published in 2012 a very interesting book telling the story of UFO sightings, flying saucers sightings, in Alsace, from the beginning to 1980.

In this book, he reports that a case in mid-March took place at the Taennchel according to L'Alsace of Thursday March 17, 1977:


A group of amateur astronomers of Mulhouse observed yesterday evening above the valley of Thann 6 unidentified flying objects. The phenomenon was visible according to them from 8:30 to 9:30 and could even be seen with the naked eye. One of the objects of orange color was reportedly cigar shaped; the others were cube-shaped.



About Christian Valentin's book:

It is not at all my habit to "advertise" a book or anything, and I have no interested relationship with the author, but I wanted to say a word on the book by Christian Valentin, "Mythes et Réalités des Phénomènes Aériens Non Identifiés" (i.e. "Myths and Realities of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (cover on the left) , ref. [cv2]; which, as its subtitle indicates, is about Alsatian UFO sighting reports and the saucer lore in Alsace.

I think Alsatian ufologists and generally people interested in the UFO question, or in the history of Alsace, my region, would probably like this book.

The 144 pages book is sober but well presented, unbiased, richly documented and illustrated. It is the first work in print specifically about UFO sightings in Alsace. (There was another one a few years ago, but it was partly made by copying - pasting without mention of the sources, portions of my website, especially the Alsatians cases I almost exhaustively documented in my catalog of UFO sightings in France in 1954, and copies from another websites; the trivial explanations I proposed or gave there being almost always stripped off!)

The author does not want to prove or disprove the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors or some other so-called "extraordinary" explanation, he rather offers a chronologically ordered review of Alsatian UFO reports, starting from the origin and stopping in 1980, based on known sources ufology, on the articles of the regional Press, and cases less known or even unreleased so far that he collected directly with the witnesses. His own comments are printed in a different color, references to the sources are always given. A very nice work in my opinion!

The author currently has a blog where he shows what libraries in Alsace have the book available, see:


The other sightings:

This report should not ne considerd in isolation but together with these others; which occurred in the same timeframe and places relative to the Pageos explanation:

PAGEOS (PAssive Geodetic Earth Orbiting Satellite) was a geodetic balloon-satellite, launched by NASA in June 1966, set up to form a global triangulation network with accuracy of 3 to 5 meters.


The balloon had a diameter of 30 meters and was made of Mylar (the very solid "plastic" of the "chips" bags), aluminized, with a metallic-looking and highly reflective surface.

PAGEOS was placed in a polar orbit at a height of about 4000 km, which had gradually diminished over its 9 years of use, finally partially disintegrating in July 1975, with a second break-up in January 1976, which resulted in the release of a large number of fragments, most of which re-entered the atmosphere, slowly, over the next decade.

Just a look at the PAGEOS photo I show above is enough to realize that the "few astronomers" who argued according to L'Alsace that "the extreme brilliance of the object currently observed would tend to invalidate" that it would be PAGEOS debris because the things gave "the impression of a mirror reflecting the sun" were wrong. The envelope is obviously precisely like a mirror reflecting the sun. When they argued "that a satellite having exploded most of the debris would have fallen back to earth", they simply did not understand that it was not a satellite but a satellite-balloon.

Finally, on November 5, 1990, there was a "UFO" seen from the South-West to the North-East of France by a multitude of people; which was in fact debris from a Russian rocket. Among those who observed and correctly identified what was happening were "Daniel Karcher, amateur astronomer from Wittenheim"; it may be the same Mr. Karcher mentioned by the newspaper in this case.

For the record, the predecessors of PAGEOS were Echo 1 (1960) and Echo 2 (1964), the astronomer and ufologist J. Allen Hynek having participated in the Echo 2 program.

However, there is a very big problem with this explanation for this case, and for this case alone, of the series: the newspaper indicates that the sighting took place in the morning. This then excludes fragments of PAGEOS, not visible in the morning hours.

The description, "a kind of huge white balloon, with a very intense glow above the ruins, a little away from the castle", does not match either; but it could be that of a balloon. I therefore remain with an unidentified, but with totally insufficient information.


Unidentified, totally insufficient information.

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
Editeur: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross February 28, 2023 Creation, [lae1], [lae2], [lae3], [lae4], [cvn2].
1.0 Patrick Gross February 28, 2023 First published.

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This page was last updated on February 28, 2023.