ALSACAT -> Home 

Cette page en françaisCliquez!


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.

Previous case Next case >

Case of Saverne, on January 3, 1979:

Case number:



The newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace for January 7, 1979, had reported a sighting of January 3, 1979, before dawn, in Saverne; the National Gendarmerie then opened an investigation.

During this investigation, the Gendarmes heard a testimony of another sighting of this same January 3, 1979, but around 7 p.m.

The minutes of this hearing, anonymized and declassified around 2014 by the G.E.I.P.A.N. (group of the Centre National des Etudes Spatiales in charge of cases of observations of unidentified aerospace phenomena) indicate this:

On January 9, 1979, at 2:45 p.m., the gendarmes heard Mr. W. J., a toolmaker, at his workplace, and he told them that on Wednesday evening January 3, 1979, around 7 p.m., he was returning to his home with his wife, carrying his little boy in his arms. As the child liked to look at the Moon, his father showed it to him, and as he thus looked up, he saw for 3 to 4 seconds, a ball "like a tangerine" just above his head. This object was very high and moving from north to south, and it "didn't look like a shooting star in any manner."

By the time he told his wife, it was too late, the object had disappeared. The man had heard no noise.

It was because the following Sunday, he had read in the newspaper that there was talk of mysterious objects in the sky, that he had decided to inform the gendarmerie.

The Gendarmes inquired about the possible presence of weather balloons in the sky at this time, hearing that it was possible. The weather services told them that on January 3, 1979, the winds were fast at high altitude, around 150 knots (278 km/h) and 90 to 100 knots (167 to 185 km/h) on the ground, and that they were blowing in a North-West and North-North-West direction - which does not fit to the North to South direction indicated by the witness.

The G.E.I.P.A.N. noted this, commenting that there is a lack of information that makes it impossible to conclude that this explanation is the correct one for sure.


Temporal data:

Date: January 3, 1979
Time: 7 p.m.
Duration: 3 to 4 seconds.
First known report date: January 9, 1979
Reporting delay: 1 week.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Saverne
Place: Outside.
Latitude: 48.739
Longitude: 7.364
Uncertainty radius: 10 km.

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adult.
Witness(es) types: Man, resident, toolmaker, family man.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Witness interview by the Gendarmerie Nationale.
Type of location: Outside.
Visibility conditions: Night
UFO observed: Yes.
UFO arrival observed: ?
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: Unidentified, not a shooting star.


Hynek: NL.





C.C.R.G.d* [-]

Grouping of [-]

Company of [-]

Brigade of [-]

No. 57 of January 8, 1979



Shipping. (Copy)


FRG. 9.24.79




This day, sixteenth of January nineteen hundred seventy nine.

We, the undersigned: B[-] A[-], Chief Warrant Officer, Judicial Police Officer.
V[-] A[-], Gendarme, Judicial Police Agent.

of [-].

Having regard to article [-] of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Report the following operations, which we carried out acting in uniform, and in accordance with the orders of our chiefs.


On Monday, January 8, nineteen seventy-nine, following various information collected by telephone on Saturday, January 6, relating to sightings of unidentified flying objects, we began an investigation.


According to this information, an elderly couple observed a mysterious object in the sky on January 3, one thousand nine hundred and seventy-nine.

Proceeding to the investigation, at her home, we heard on January 8, 1979 at 4 p.m.:

Miss D[-] J[-], [-] years old, retired from the SNCF [national railway co] [-], living rue du [-] in [-] who told us:

---- Wednesday morning the third of January nineteen seventy nine, while opening the shutters, with my sister Mrs. B[-] -R[-], we observed a brilliant object in the sky in the South-Southeast relative to our house.




The sky was very clear, there were no stars and it was not yet dawn. By taking a spyglass, we saw that the object had the shape of a sheaf of sparks resembling those of Christmas trees, but much longer. From this sheaf of sparks appeared a ruby-colored half-sphere, sometimes to the right, sometimes up and down, but never to the left. I extended my arm and from a distance taken on my hand, the object measured about 14 centimeters. I cannot assess the angle at which I was seeing this object or how far away it might have been. It was above the trees, about 49 centimeters above the "[-]". To pinpoint the exact time, I dialed the speaking clock on the phone and it was six-fifty. Our observation lasted until seven thirty eight. At that time, we saw it in the branches of a cherry tree, slightly to the right, which allowed us to see that it had moved. ----

It got smaller and smaller as dawn appeared and disappeared completely at eight o'clock. We did not perceive any noise, the clarity of the object was cold, no radiation illuminated the surroundings. The flicker was white. When it left, it was still moving at the same height and towards the south and disappeared from our sight, we could only distinguish a small dot.

I specify that our observation was made with the help of theater binoculars and not with a telescope.

The eighth of January nineteen seventy nine at five forty five. Reading made by me of the statement above, I persist in it and have nothing to change, add or subtract from it.

(Signature in the declaration book)

On the eighth of January nineteen seventy-nine at 5:45 p.m., at her home, we heard:

Mrs. B[-] R[-], [-] years old, retired, living in rue du [-] at [-], who declares to us:

---- I attended the interview with my sister and I confirm exactly what she said.

The eighth of January nineteen seventy-nine at six o'clock. Reading made by me of the statement above, I persist in it and have nothing to change, add or subtract from it.




On January 9, nineteen seventy-nine at 2:45 p.m., at his workplace, we hear:

Mr. W[-] J[-], [-] years old, toolmaker, living on rue [-] in [-] who declares to us:

---- On Wednesday evening, January 3, 1979, around 7:00 p.m., I returned home with my wife and carried my little boy in my arms. The latter always wanting to look at the moon, I showed it to him and that's how I looked up. Within 3-4 seconds, I saw a tangerine-like ball just above my head. This object was very high and was moving from north to south. It did not look like a shooting star in any way. By the time I told my wife, it was too late. The object had disappeared. I didn't hear any noise. The following Sunday, I saw on the newspaper that there was talk of mysterious objects in the sky and that's how I alerted you.

On the ninth of January nineteen seventy-nine at 5:20 p.m. Reading made by me of the statement above, I persist in it and have nothing to change, add or subtract from it.

From information collected at the meteorological station of the aerodrome of [-], we learned that on the third of January nineteen seventy nine the winds were fast at high altitude, of the order of 150 knots and 90 to 100 knots on the ground.

They were blowing in a northwest and north-northwest direction.

Informed of our investigation, this service informed us that the French meteorological sounding balloons were launched in principle from [-] around noon, but that they could also come from [-]. It happened that these balloons, weighed down by frost, drifted slowly and very far.

As for the characteristics of the object described by Miss B[-], it was very likely that it was a meteorite or a comet, because the hairy part was always opposite the sun.



We are attaching to these minutes a notebook sheet on which Miss B[-] immediately noted her observations, adding a sketch at the bottom of the page.

Six shipments to:

The first, to the Prefect of Region [-], Prefect of [-], at [-].

The second, to the Public Prosecutor at [-]

The third, to the Lieutenant General, Commanding the [-] - [-] Air Region - at [-].

The fourth and the fifth, at the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Directorate of the Gendarmerie and Military Justice, Employment-Information Office.

the sixth, to the archive.

Done and closed at [-], January 16, 1979.


January 3, 79 Ufo in [-]?

Around 6:50 a.m. reviews to the eye a scintillating object / comparison about 14 centimeters!

(Stern Spitzen [tip with star] of Christmas tree) in clear starless sky - south southeast direction stayed put over trees of the "[-]"

Until 7:38. Observed with a spyglass - it is presented with a fire red ball ([?]) changing positions (the ball), either on the right side or above or below the object.

at 7:38 a.m. (speaking phone clock) lengthens and moves directly. distinctly south towards the mountains. red ball still in position as above.

8 o'clock is seen as a small luminous dot with a red dot and disappears.

Observed that the object began to move when we saw the dawn rise in front of our position.

[Ref. eae1:] ERIC ANTOINE:

Note by the investigator.

[...] after research in the archives of "L'Alsace", several observations took place between this period: (source: Nostra + L'Alsace).

[... Other cases...]

c) January 7, 1979. An elderly couple from Saverne claimed to have observed a U.F.O. around 6:30 a.m. from their home. It was a glittering object which remained immobile, above a clump of trees, for nearly an hour. The witnesses had the leisure to look at it with binoculars and so they observed "an orange ball changing position and placing itself successively at the three corners of a triangle". The object ends up moving away towards the mountain. The gendarmerie investigated.

[... Other cases...]

Although some of these observations were later explained, [...]


SAVERNE (67) 1979

Observed on: 01/03/1979
Region: Alsace
Department: Rhin (Bas)
Class: B
Summary: observations of objets in the sky
Description: On January 3, 1979, two people observed at 6:50 a.m. a bright object at low altitude in the direction of South Southeast. Half spherical and accompanied by a shower of sparks, this object will move gradually and noiselessly to disappear towards the South. These people probably made an astronomical observation of Venus particularly visible in the sky at this time (magnitude 4.46) according to the star chart. A motorist traveling around 7 p.m. will see another flying object that same day. For 3 to 4 seconds he sees a ball moving silently at very high altitude and on a North-South trajectory. This person probably saw a weather balloon but we lack information on this last object.
Report: None.

Details of the testimony
Date of the observation 01/03/1979
Document number
Age Adult (more than 18)
Profession Employees, Workers
Sex Male
Reaction Active Curiosity
Credibility Normal Credibility
Environment Home
Weather conditions Not-specified
Hour of the observation Numbered: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Reference frame Sky or clouds
Distance between phenomenon and witness Not-specified
Start of the observation Start of observation by witness
End of the observation End of observation by phenomenon
Angle of the site At the zenith
Direction of observation North
Heading South
Trajectory Not-specified
Nature of the observation Object
Characteristic of the observation Unique
Global shape Round, circular, ball
Color Not-specified
Apparent size Others (comparison landmarks, etc.)
Apparent speed Fast, great, rapid
Noise No noise
Effect on the environment Not-specified
Number 1


City Date and hour of observation General shape
General color
SAVERNE Wednesday 3 January 1979 at 07:00 p.m. ball, balloon or melon (3D)
information not communicated
Unsolved -lack of info



At the time of the observation, the sky was dark, the sun set at 4:46 p.m. The moon was indeed in the sky, at 31° elevation.

It is difficult for me to decide on an ordinary explanation; the duration is very short, there is only little information; no angular size, no angular distance of displacement, and it is not known whether the comparison with a tangerine relates to a color or not. It is unclear whether there was a trail or no trail.

It is possible for example that it was a jet plane with afterburner at high altitude, a small meteor, or a weather balloon indeed.

I consider the case to be unidentified, of low strangeness, giving no reason to believe that it would be an extraterrestrial craft.


Unidentified, low strangeness.

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 July 24, 2022 Creation, [gen1], [gen1], [aea1], [gei1], [spa1].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 24, 2022 First published.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict

 Feedback  |  Top  |  Back  |  Forward  |  Map  |  List |  Home
This page was last updated on July 24, 2022.