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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 Erstein, on December 20, 2006:

Case number:



On December 20, 2006, I received an email from an non-anonymous person, a resident of Erstein in the Bas-Rhin.

This person stated to be used to walking his dog every morning, equipped with a camera to take pictures of the landscape.

The morning of December 20, 2006, at 7:45 a.m. this person made pictures of the village of Erstein in the sunrise.

Back home, after loading the pictures on his personal computer, he noticed something strange in the upper left corner of one of the photo, something that did not appear on other photos.

The person sent me the three original photos to get my opinion, they are visible below in theis case file.


Temporal data:

Date: December 20, 2006
Time: 07:37 a.m.
Duration: 1/30th of a second.
First known report date: December 20, 2006
Reporting delay: Hours.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Erstein
Place: From a country path leading to Erstein, UFO on photograph.
Latitude: 48.421
Longitude: 7.662
Uncertainty radius: 3 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 1
Witness(es) ages: Adult.
Witness(es) types: Male.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Email directly to me.
Type of location: From a country path, UFO on a photograph.
Visibility conditions: End of the night
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: N/A
UFO departure observed: N/A
Entities: No
Photographs: Yes.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: No idea.


ALSACAT: Photographic artefact of the "orb" type.



Date written:December 20, 2006
Date received:December 20, 2006
Date published:February 29, 2008
Date of sighting:December 20, 2006
Place of sighting:Country path near Erstein, Bas-Rhin, France
Original language of report:French
Reported using:e-mail
Unreleased information:Name, firstname, email address

The report:

Subject: message from [FIRSTNAME] [NAME]
Date: December 20, 2006
From: [firstname].[name]@[provider].fr

3 attachments
Decembre 2006 005.jpg 723 KB
Decembre 2006 006.jpg 651 KB
Decembre 2006 008.jpg 616 KB

[Firstname] [Name] residing in Erstein 67150 Alsace (France)

hello and thank you your website is great.

I usually walk my dog every morning with my camera on me to take points of view

this morning 12/20/2006 around 7:45 a.m. i took a picture of my village in the sunrise.

On my way home i put the photos on my pc that's where I noticed something strange in the upper left corner that does not appear on other photos.I therefore send to you 3 photos taken successively, the thing is on one of the 3 ... why. ? ... How!

if you have an opinion on the thing?

The images:



City Date and hour of observation General shape
General color
ERSTEIN Wednesday 20 December 2006 at 07h45 luminous dot
information not communicated
Unsolved -lack of info



We have here what French ufologists usually call a "surprise photograph", ie that the witness did not anything with his eyes at the time, and discovered an anomaly on a photograph once he looked at them on a screen or a printout.

On the first photograph, we see at the top left certainly what intrigued the sender.

EXIF data of the three original images indicate that they were taken with a digital camera Olympus X350 or D575Z or C360Z.

The image with the "thing" was taken December 20, 2006 at 07:37 a.m., with an exposure of 1/30th of a second, a focal length of F/3.1, 6mm, an ISO speed of 400, and most of the settings on automatic mode.

The second image was taken at 7:43 e.m., and the third at 7:38 a.m..

So we have the mysterious object at 7:37 a.m., then at 7:38 and 7:43 a.m., it did not appear anymore. Si there is no "before" picture.

The three images are pointing in the same direction, the town of Erstein, but are not taken exactly at the same distance. The farthest is the last one, it shows the largest field, the "thing" is no longer there, what seems therefore to exclude that the thing was the Moon. It would not have moved that much within the 6 minutes.

I nevertheless checked the presence of the moon for the date, time and place, as the Moon sometimes looks like this on photographs. But it is excluded, as it rose only at 9:46 a.m.

An enlargement of the object of curiosity, without smoothing effect, gives:


Although not quite spectacularly colored, the round thing evokes the famous "orbs" in which some want to see UFOs, others see ghosts, or paranormal phenomena.

These "orbs" are caused by the diffraction of light on small objects close to the lens and on which the focus is not set because it is set on the background. The little thing appears by blurring as a round thing. This is the same effect that makes car headlights at night appear as round luminous balls on photos.

What object caused that? It is obviously impossible to say, but I got similar results with insects, pollens, dust specs, and water droplets.

The "orb" effect needs a source of light. In this case, the EXIF data indicate that the flash of the camera was set to "auto". This means it must have fired, given the lack of light at this hour.

See here to learn more about orbs.


Photographic artefact of the "orb" type.

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 March 12, 2016 Creation, [pgs1], [spa1].
1.0 Patrick Gross March 12, 2016 First published.

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This page was last updated on March 12, 2016.