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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 Riedisheim, on February 19, 2010:

Case number:



On the website of the Swiss ufology group GREPI, among the UFO sighting reports, there is one given by Gaétan, living in the Haut-Rhin, who made his observation in Riedisheim in the Haut-Rhin from inside a housing looking East, through a closed widow.

He said that on Friday, February 19, 2010, at about 06:20 p.m., he was watching television when he and another person saw four or five bright copper color dots that moved away in a group, straightly and horizontally, and soon, after about five minutes, have faded, flickered and disappeared.

He indicates that the dot size was a little bigger than the size of airliners that would pass in the sky, the speed was similar to that of a plane, in a general south to north direction, with a height on the horizon given as "midday".

He had the time to take two photographs, visible below in this file.

He said that the sky was partly cloudy, with very little wind, and he did not see the moon.

Explaining that he is Cartesian, he expressed his surprise at what he saw; which he had never seen before.


Temporal data:

Date: February 19, 2010
Time: ~06:20 p.m.
Duration: ~5 minutes.
First known report date: 2014
Reporting delay: Hours, 4 years.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Riedisheim
Place: From town through window, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.746
Longitude: 7.364
Uncertainty ratio: 2 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: ?
Witness(es) types: Adult male.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Web report to the ufology website of the Swiss ufology group GREPI.
Type of location: From town through window, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Early in the night.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: Yes
Entities: No
Photographs: Yes.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: ?


Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Chinese lanterns.



On Friday, February 19, 2010 at approximately 06:20 p.m. I was watching television when, through the window, I saw four or five bright dots that moved in groups. Shortly after they flashed and disappeared.

I have two photographs to support it.

I am rational but I admit that this is the first time in my life that I see such a thing and it intrigues me.

Additional information:

Date of sighting: February 19, 2010 at 18:20

Place of observation: Riedisheim, France, in the city, from the inside of a building, observation with the naked eye through a window

Weather: partly cloudy, very gentle wind, moonless night it seems to me, unless it was behind the clouds

What general direction were you watching ? Eastward

What were you doing when you started watching, how was your attention directed to the phenomenon ? I was watching TV

Appearance: 4/ 5 bright copper colored balls in the sky moving together, uniform in color, medium gloss, the brightness did not change, round shape, spherical, the objects appeared solid, moving, the dots moved all together on a straight line

Position: Horizontal

Apparent size of objects, or of the whole of them: A little bigger than a plane you would watch in the sky

Estimation of the traveling speed: constant, in the manner of a plane

General direction of movement: South---> North

Apparent altitude: similar to airliners

Height on the horizon: Noon

Total observation time: 5 minutes

How did the observation end? The phenomenon went in the distance, faded, then disappeared

Number of witnesses: myself and another person

Regards, for any further information, contact me.

Gaétan (Haut-Rhin - France)



The description obviously evokes a group of Chinese lanterns, and the pictures leave no doubt about it, except for those who would choose that craft from another world would disguise in Chinese lanterns.


A Chinese lantern.

Chinese lanterns are one cause of some old tales of UFO sightings: During the "airship" wave of 1896 - 1897 in the USA, during the wave of 1972 in the US Midwest, etc.

Since these miniature hot air paper balloons can be ordered on the Internet at very low cost - they also commonly found in Alsace now in stores - there is no need anymore to take the trouble of manufacturing them yourself.

So since 2005, about everywhere and of course in Alsace, many people who do not yet know about them report them as UFOs or at least as a subject of puzzlement: "It was not planes, not satellites, not helicopters, etc...", commonly appears in the stories. Indeed they aren't.

In principle, any ufologist worthy of the title should be able to recognize a story related for sure or at least possibly to Chinese lanterns, but there are still ufologists who do not want to listen, or quibble, demanding that a guilty lantern is handed to them otherwise they want the story to remain a "UFO report".

Most of the time, I certainly cannot "scientifically prove" or provide "hard evidence" that this or that report is explained by Chinese lanterns; but I see nothing opposes it and nothing would justify to call it spacecraft from another world or who knows what else.

It is sometimes possible to find that there was, precisely at that time, in the vicinity, a release of lanterns, during a party, a wedding party, a birthday party etc. But these releases are now so usual in Alsace at least that they are not necessarily mentioned on festivity calendars.

Since 2005, they constitute the bulk of the "testimonies" of UFOs found on websites devoted to the subject of UFOs and essentially publishing such "web report"; generally the only treatment is the publication, without any information on a possible cause, without any investigation or comment.

In Alsace, such releases are especially popular now since fireworks and firecrackers, long tolerated, are now prohibited for use unless special exemptions; Alsatians therefore largely adopted the lanterns.

As these lanterns are usually released at private or public parties, they are most often seen on Saturday nights, often at wedding dates or official festivities such as the National Day or New Year's Eve, usually between 10 p.m. and midnight. They are then usually released in clusters. But sometimes the purchaser performs a "test flight" a few days before, sometimes with a single lantern.


Chinese lanterns interpreted as UFO by some people, over Mulhouse on October 10, 2013. Image published in the newspaper "Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace".


Chinese lanterns.

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 13, 2015 Creation, [gr1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 13, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on May 13, 2015.