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UFOs in the daily Press:

The Euroseti SOHO pictures controversy, January 2003:

This article was published in the daily newspaper The Birmingham Post, U-K., on January 17, 2003.

Alien 'Proof' Rejected As Hype

By Emma Brady

Startling images of an object thought to be a UFO are nothing more than over-exposed pictures of a planet, according to a Birmingham professor.

Pictures beamed back from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (Soho), a satellite monitoring the sun, using equipment developed by Birmingham University experts were thought to be proof of alien ships in space.

But Professor George Simnett, head of the university's space research group, has dismissed the hype surrounding the claims as "nonsense".

The digital pictures are due to be displayed in a public exhibition at the National Space Centre in Leicester - organised by UFO group Euroseti - next week.

They were taken using LASCO - Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph - developed by experts from Birmingham University, the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, the Max Planck Institute in Germany and LAS in Marseilles, France.

Prof Simnett said: "The digital technology inside our instruments and camera is similar to those in domestic digital cameras, so instead of images being saved on film they are captured on a charged couple device.

"If the CCD is saturated at a given point, for example with too much light, it causes an elongation of image with a bright white spot at the centre, which is a characteristic of over-exposure.

"The image seen in various newspapers is of an over-exposed planet - it is not a UFO." Mike Murray, founder of Euroseti, obtained the images from a Spanish businessman who had received more than 700 pictures from Soho since 2001 by using a giant satellite dish at his home.

Convinced the over-exposed pictures were of unidentified flying objects he approached Nasa, who had previously dismissed them as being the result of a camera fault. Nasa now believe the images are of comets or asteroids.

But Prof Simnett said UFO investigators were clutching at straws with their latest claims. He said: "This story that these pictures are of alien craft is just nonsense.

"The people at the National Space Centre should know better than this as well.

"It's my camera, my instruments that have taken these pictures, and I know what it's capable of seeing. We understand perfectly how these images are filmed and what they appear to be - and they are not UFOs or alien crafts."

But Mr Murray, who will give evening presentations about the images on January 24 to 26, said: "They are archetypal flying saucers - disc-shaped objects with some kind of glow around them. Many have a pulsing light and leave a trail behind them.

"I think it's absolutely irrefutable that this couldn't be anything other than a machine. It's an astonishing picture."

Last night the National Space Centre refused to be drawn into the debate.

Pam Murdock, the centre's marketing manager, said: "As part of our business plan we offer corporate facilities for hire, but that does not necessarily mean we endorse the topic under discussion at any particular event."

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This page was last updated on January 20, 2003.