Project Blue Book case review: November-December 1957
This is the latest edition of the Project Blue Book case review covering November and December of 1957. Like the previous evalu- ations, I tried to examine each case to see if the conclusion had merit. I added comments to help clarify the explanation or if I felt it was not correct or adequate. Any item highlighted in red involved photographs of UFOs. I did not highlight images of suspected UFO debris or locations where UFOs were reported.
This period was highlighted as a massive wave of UFO sightings. 482 cases in two months is a definite spike in UFO reports but was there a reason?
One of the most common arguments had to do with the launch of Sputnik on October 4. People wanting to see the object in the sky went out and saw various objects they could not identify. The end result was that there were an increase in UFO reports being filed to ATIC. Unfortunately, Sputnik 1 was a small object and could not be readily be seen. People saw the booster rocket which was also in the same approximate orbit and large enough to be seen. The subsequent launch of Sputnik 2, which was a very large craft, was visible to ground observers with a brightness of about first magnitude. Launched on November 3, the news media quickly alerted everyone that it should be easily seen in its passes overhead. It seems that this object was the inspiration for more people to go out and look at the sky. The most UFO reports happened between November 4-12.
One thing that stands out was the large number of Venus reports during this time period. Venus was at greatest elongation on November 14 and quite bright. It would reach greatest brilliancy on December 27. There were roughly 90 cases (about 18% of the total) reported during November-December that could have been Venus.
There were also other sources for these UFO reports:
On the evening of November 6, there was a vivid auroral display visible as far south as Georgia.
A check of the newspaper archive revealed five articles reporting bright meteors being reported between November 3 and 9. One article, from Wisconsin, stated the American Meteor Society recorded three bright meteors within a one hour period on the night of November 9. This indicated an increased rate of bright meteors during early November.
The US Navy was launching Transosonde balloons from Japan that floated at 30,000 feet. In November, seven of these balloons flew across the entire United States. In December, another seven flew across the country.
Considering all of these sources of potential UFO reports, it is not surprising that there was a spike in UFO sightings.
Looking at the sightings that were declared “Sputnik” , I found it difficult to verify them. Because of the low orbit, the orbital ele- ments varied and I had to use information in the Blue Book files and news media reports to determine if the sighting could have possibly been a satellite.
Finally, there was also a few sightings where the reports had confusing or conflicting information. Captain Gregory often had hand written com- ments about how he disliked these reports. This image of the Lithonia, Georgia sighting was typi- cal of what he had to deal with. This sighting last- ed 100 minutes but the observer could not even give the direction he observed the object at the beginning and end of those 100 minutes. Either the observer was just not very good or those col- lecting the information were incapable of asking the simple questions to obtain that information. There are many reports in the case files like this and it is no surprise that so many received a clas- sification of “insufficient information”.
Speaking of “Insufficient information/data”, out of the 101 cases I reclassified, 51 were originally classified “Insufficient data”. This indicates that my 20.9% of reclassified cases only includes about 10% that were actually “mistakes” by Blue Book.
Next issue, I will move on to the first half of 1959.
Quelle: SUNlite 5/2019