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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 November 5, 1990:

Case number:



In his 1993 book on the so-called French UFO flap of November 5, 1990, ufologist Franck Marie noted an observation made on November 5, 1990, at 7:00 p.m. in Fessenheim in the Haut-Rhin:

A witness knowing there were sightings that day wrote that on the 7th [sic] of November 1990, a flying object passed near his home.

He was returning from work by bicycle when looking back without reason, he saw a glow in the sky that moved horizontally at a indeterminable altitude.

He stopped, took off his cap and found that there was no noise. It went on his bike for about 300 meters, he was able to examine everything:

There were exactly 10 small lights that moved next the flashing "object" at the same speed, followed by long white streaks.

This sketch accompanies the story:


Franck Marie noted there were two other witnesses but the report mentions nobody else.

This was, of course, one of the numerous sightings of what was absolutely not a "UFO", but the flaming debris of a Russian Proton that crossed the sky of France from the South-West to the North-East on that day and time.


Temporal data:

Date: November 5, 1990
Time: 07:00 p.m.
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1993
Reporting delay: 2 years.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Fessenheim
Place: On the bicycle, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.914
Longitude: 7.537
Uncertainty radius: 3 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1 or 3
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: ?
Witness(es) types: Adult.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Letter to ufologist Franck Marie?
Type of location: On the bicycle, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Night
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): Yes.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): Yes.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: ?


Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Space junk re-entry.


[Ref. fme1:] FRANCK MARIE:

JT 07:00 p.m. 68 FESSENHEIM

47°55n -7°31e 1 witness + 2 others

"I am writing to you about the flying object that passed near my home at 7. p.m. on 11/7. I was returning from work by bicycle when I looked back (in fact without reason), I see a glow in the sky that moves horizontally at an indeterminable altitude. I stop, take off my hat, no noise; I continue by bicycle for about 300 meters... I was able to examine everything: the number of small lights (10 precisely) that moved next to the flashing object at the same speed, followed by long white streaks..."

The story is illustrated with this sketch:




Time;Duration (sec);Heading;Passage at the closest
Angular elevation;Dimension(m/km);Distance Atmospheric re-entry (origin/passage at the closest)


68F;FESSENHEIM; 47.92;-7.52
90;; 956/-83
Big light surrounded of small lights, leaving long white trails



On November 5, 1990, one or two minutes after 07:00 p.m., a very commonplace phenomenon occurred, explained, and devoid of any actual strangeness, but it nevertheless started a UFO delirium of some of the French ufologists.

The sightings started with an explosive decay over the Bay of Biscay in France, resulting in combustion fragments seen from afar, and generally, as they approached, seen as a group of three main lights - hence it was called a "triangle" - of large angular size, and followed by trails of smoke and sparks.

Once over land, the thing was seen from different angles and at various distances by people on the ground, which gives a range of quite diverse descriptions.

The thing crossed France following a line approximately from Bordeaux to Strasbourg, in silence, in a straight line without any maneuver, in two to three minutes, reaching Strasbourg at about 07:06 p.m.

There were also sightings reported from the South of England, London, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, but not beyond.

In the evening, several Gendarmerie brigades contacted the National Center for Space Studies to report what people told them. Gendarmes brigades of Angers and Tulle got the chance to see the display themselves. In the evening, the Press service of the armies, SIRPA, confirmed that military pilots had seen something without being able to formally identify it. Near Paris airports of Orly and Roissy, the luminous phenomenon was seen from the control towers. Hundreds or even thousands of civilians reported their sightings to the authorities, the Press and other media.

Radio stations, television channels, newspapers, talk of a UFO, then a meteor, and finally the correct explanation appeared through information given by NASA: it was the entering in the atmosphere of the remains of a Russian Proton rocket launched from the Baikonur space center to put a Gorizont 21 satellite in orbit. Calculations had predicted the fallout of the rocket debris at its 36th orbit, crossing France from the South West to the North East on November 5, 1990 around 07:00 p.m.. SEPRA, then officially in charge of such matters, provided this explanation to news agencies on November 9, 1990.

On November 5, 1990 already, an amateur expert in satellites and space debris impact trajectory calculations, Pierre Neirinck, had seen himself, and had also identified the phenomenon, independently of NASA, as space junk from the Proton rocket.

Any sensible ufologist should have understood what is was from the beginning, given the descriptions, and at least understand thereafter that it was a classical space junk case. But some ufologists refused to hear anything about a rocket and continued to talk and write about it as a "UFO flap", of "400 UFOs" or even "thousands of UFOs", often mixing other, unrelated sightings that were more or less of the same day, sighting who have other explanations. This resulted in the continuing presence of this explained case as massive UFO sightings in some of the UFO literature, and of course this includes observations made in Alsace.

Now let's see this sighting:

It's very simple: the description, the sketch, the hour, everything coincides with the entry in the atmosphere of the Russian space junk.

If it was not the Russian space junk, how is it that the witness had not also noticed the Russian space junk?

Of course, [fme1] found it important to note that the witness looked back "without reason", as if there was some telepathic suggestion... No need for this: suffice that the phenomenon produced some moving shadow in the area for the witness to get the impulse, probably unconscious, to look back.


Space junk re-entry.

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 May 18, 2015 Creation, [fme1], [rai1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 18, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on May 18, 2015.