This article was published in the daily newspaper Preston Today, U-K, on January 19, 2005.
Have we been visited by aliens?
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or is just a smudge on a windscreen?
Keen photographer Stephen Ratcliffe of Woodstock Close, Lostock Hall, near Preston, reckons he has seen something sinister in the skies above Ribchester.
The 49-year-old claims to have unwittingly snapped four UFOs hovering over the Ribble Valley when he took his digital camera to photograph the snow-covered landscape around the village.
The prints, which he says he does not remember taking, show orb-like objects appearing to fall from the sky.
But an astronomer at the University of Central Lancashire has cast a shadow over the authenticity of the picture, saying the lighting is not right.
Professor Donald Kurtz, professor in astronomy at the university, said: "Things fall from the sky, bits of space rock and such like, but seldom will someone see it."
"There are certainly no aliens flying around Lancashire in their flying saucers."
Prof Kurtz added that the UFOs appear to be lit from the top whereas the shadows in the photograph are cast from behind.
But Stephen, who works for Goss Graphics in Preston, is convinced the photos were a result of some kind of paranormal happening.
He said: "I bought the camera for £129 last year and it has never had anything like this happen before. I can't remember taking the picture. I am convinced the camera did it on its own.
"I was parked on a car park in the middle of the village and it looks like the picture was taken from behind the wheel of my car.
"There was nobody else around so I don't know if anybody else saw them."
19 January 2005
I never read so much nonsensical non-information collected in just one article.
"Is it a bird? Is it a plane?" is the usual title for many "UFO" articles in the U-K Press. The others are "are we alone" or "Have we been visited by aliens?" or some reference to the X-Files. Oh well.
What's the article about? Well, an possibly inexperienced guy with probably no knowledge of ufology or digital cameras (bought recently) took a digital picture and there you go, there are "four" "sinister" "orb-like" "UFOs" "hovering" "falling" ... etc.
Sorry folks, things on a picture is often not "four hovering UFOs" because:
Enters Professor Donald Kurtz, astronomer at the University of Central Lancashire.
Mr Kurtz, you are quoted saying "Things fall from the sky, bits of space rock and such like, but seldom will someone see it." "bits of space rocks" are called meteors. People do see them. When someone takes a picture of that, which is quite seldom, well, an astronomer should recognize it. So why the comment? It is because it looks like meteors? Then why on earth should you comment on "flying saucer" "certainly not visiting Lancashire" rather than just tell us that it looks like meteors?
Mr. Kurtz, the question is only secondary about the "authenticity" of the pictures. The question is what they show. They probably are authentic, and I bet most ufologist would have told you very quickly what they show. If only people with UFO issues would NOT contact "professors of astronomy" who have no experience on the topic (it's not their field of expertise, quite simply) but ufologists... If only you would have asked a ufologist instead of offering the non-expert comments. Only non-experts have this widely spread wrong notion of masses of hoaxers producing fake saucers photos. Hoaxed photographs exist, but in the mass of alleged "UFO" photographs, the top ranking explanation is: misinterpretation of totally mundane but real, not hoaxed, stuff.
Mr. Kurtz, I bet the "orb-like UFOs" are nothing more than out of focus dust. Or snowflakes. That's just a bet. They may be something else, of course, but I bet I could tell better than you if I had seen the picture(s), simply put.
According to the newspaper, you say that "the UFOs appear to be lit from the top whereas the shadows in the photograph are cast from behind" and "the lighting is not right." It seems that is why you imply a hoax. So what? Did you exclude other sources of light? Do you know if the flash was used or not? Does this have anything to do with astronomy?
Mr. Kurz, the photographer may not have hoaxed the picture. Think of his thoughts about astronomers when he reads the apparently quite casual accusation...
Mr. Kurtz, you write "There are certainly no aliens flying around Lancashire in their flying saucers." How do you know?
Enters the paranormal...: "But Stephen, who works for Goss Graphics in Preston, is convinced the photos were a result of some kind of paranormal happening" says the article.
Why should it be "paranormal"? what "some kind of paranormal happening?" Why is Stephen "convinced"?
People, get real for a change, send the picture(s) to a ufologist.
And pardon my rant.