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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 Obernai, on August 9, 2014:

Case number:



"" is a French UFO website that essentially publishes UFO sighting reports they receive. Among those, I found this one in May 2015:

Michel reports that on August 9, 2014, at 10:40 p.m. in Obernai in the Bas-Rhin, he and another person saw luminous dots for 10 minutes.

He says they were seen with binoculars towards the South / Southeast, between 112░ and 114░, 258░ azimuth according to his compass.

There was a first luminous dot, followed by a second, going South / South-east "at the same distance" and at the same speed, then ten luminous dots followed, all equidistant from each other and at constant speed.

There was nothing more for about a minute, and then came the last two luminous dots.

He says that their displacement speed can be compared to that of a satellite that can be seen at times.

He filmed the scene with his smartphone, but it was too dark and too far.

He states that the Moon was about 160░ South / East and azimuth 206░.


Temporal data:

Date: August 9, 2014
Time: 10:40 p.m.
Duration: 10 minutes.
First known report date: May 2015
Reporting delay: Hours, months.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Obernai
Place: ?
Latitude: 48.460
Longitude: 7.481
Uncertainty radius: 3 km

Witnesses data:

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

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Reported by the web to UFO website "OVNI-France".
Type of location: ?
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: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?


Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Probable Chinese lanterns.



09-08-2014 - (Dep.67) - Luminous dots

Date : 09-08-2014

Departement : 67 (Bas-Rhin)

Localization : Obernai

Hour : 22h40

Numbers [sic] of witnesses : 2 people

Type of observation : NL : Nocturnal Lights

Approximate duration of the observation : 10 minutes

What was seen : Luminous dots

Description of the facts :

Observed with binoculars towards the South / Southeast, between 112░ and 114░, 258░ azimuth according to my compass: a first luminous dot, followd [sic] by a second heading south / southeast at same distance and same speed. Then followed ten bright dots, all equidistant from each other and at constant speed. Then nothing and about a minute later, the last two points of light. The displacement speed can be compared to that of a satellite that can be seen at times. I filmed the scene with my smartphone, but too dark and too far. The moon was about 160░ South / East and azimuth 206░.




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.

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.

Chinese lantern.

Above: a Chinese lantern.

Chinese lanterns follow each other at the same distance generally when a single person ignitess them, one after the other at an approximately regular interval of time.


Probable 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
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross May 11, 2015 Creation, [ofe1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 11, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on May 11, 2015.