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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 Vendenheim, on August 21, 2010:

Case number:



Someone sent a testimony by the web to the Alsatian ufology association SPICA, reporting a sighting of a luminous phenomenon on August 21, 2010, at 11:00 p.m. in Vendenheim in the Bas-Rhin.

People reportedly observed a luminous phenomenon moving slowly up and at a constant speed. The large size and brightness would exclude a "plane or meteorite."

The 10 observers estimated that the phenomenon appeared to be relatively low.


Temporal data:

Date: August 21, 2010
Time: ~11:00 p.m.
Duration: ?
First known report date: November 16, 2010
Reporting delay: Hours, 3 months.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Vendenheim
Latitude: 48.666
Longitude: 7.714
Uncertainty ratio: 2 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 10
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: ?
Witness(es) types: ?

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: By the web to the Alsatian ufology association SPICA.
Type of location: ?
Visibility conditions: Night
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: Too big to be a plane or meteorite.


Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Probable Chinese lantern, insufficient information.



08/21/2010 - 11:00 p.m. - Bas-Rhin (67) - Luminous phenomenon

Date: 08/21/2010

Hour: 11:00 p.m.

Place: Vendenheim (Bas-Rhin - 67)

Observer: Not communicated


Reported on: Not communicated



Vendenheim 08/21/10 at about 11 p.m.

Vendenheim, around 23h, on 08/21/10, we observed a luminous phenomenon moving slowly up and at a constant speed. The large size and brightness exclude airplanes or meteorite. According to the 10 observers that we were, the phenomenon appeared to be relatively low.


City Date and hour of observation General shape
General color
VENDENHEIM Saturday 21 August 2010 at 11:00 p.m. Unusual luminosity
information not communicated
Unsolved -lack of info



There is so little information that many possibilities of ordinary explanation exist: satellite, remote helicopter, projector, Chinese lantern...

What about the color? The duration? The angle of elevation? The angular size? The direction? The exact location? These are most basic data, and as they often are not reported; which excludes any possibility of proving any explanation.

I favor the Chinese lantern explanation because we are told that it's low, slow, to "big" for a plane, there is no mention of a sound. And it is not just something common in the area, but also the most likely to intrigue people.

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.

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.

Note that the lanterns have also evolved: if initially they were almost always white in color, giving an orange light during their flight, there are now all colors available and they produce other colors in flight than the usual "reddish", orange, yellow.


A Chinese lantern.


Probable Chinese lantern, 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
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross July 29, 2015 Creation, [rnc1], [spa2].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 29, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on July 29, 2015.