The March 31, 1990 Ramilles UFO observation
Editor’s note: Roger sent me this piece and it was loosely translated into English. I attempted to clean it up without damaging his article too much. My goal was to improve the grammar, syntax, and flow of the story. What Roger presents is a very interesting analysis of one of those UFO events that populated the Belgian UFO “wave” of 1989-1990.
This UFO event occurred only one day after two Belgian Air Force F-16s were chasing UFOs over the skies of Belgium. It involved a multiple witness sighting with photographs. It was considered to be such a good case that it made into the SOBEPS report, Vague d’OVNI sur la Belgique (VOB).
The UFO observation
At 0105 on the 31st of March, the witnesses reported seeing something they considered unusual. A yellowish light that was different than plane lights, rose into the sky and slowly became bigger. It divided into two parts and then divided again so that they saw four white lights. At this moment, one of the witnesses, who was a photographer, took two pictures but they were underexposed. The observers report that they saw the front of the object behind the lights for 15 seconds. It was described to be a dark shape with bright lights and some white areas, (which may have been a reflection or other light emission).At this point the photographer took a third picture. According to the photographer, the object occupied about one third of the viewfinder’s field of view (FOV). The object at the time was at an elevation angle of 45° and the three witnesses estimated the altitude of the object as being 300 meter and the size being that of a 747 airliner (about 60 to 70 m). The witnesses added that heard a whistling noise typical of a plane but concluded it was not a plane because it was too weak for the low height of the object.
The witnesses (Patrick Ferryn, photographer, Lucien Clérebaut, and José Fernandez) were located near Ramillies at the crossroads of N91 and N29, which happens to be situated under an important airway and they were looking towards the SSE. In VOB1, P. Ferryn stated he used a NIKON camera with a KOMURA 300 mm telephoto lens with an aperture of F5 set at infinite and mounted on a tripod. He used ISO 1600 speed film and shot at ashutter speed of 1/125s. Ferryn stated that he took pictures of planes for comparison.
The next day, the photographer developed the film and discovered that the emulsion didn’t show any trace of the object they saw. In one negative, all he found were four very small points of light with a magnifying glass. This picture is edited in VOB1 under the number 7.18c.
Analysis of the negative
Professor A. Meessen from UCL, created the hypothesis that the picture was erased by an infrared light emitted by the object. This effect is called “Herschel effect” and requires that the Infrared (IR) light be emitted simultaneously with the normal light on the emulsion. (See VOB1 p 423-435).This effect is weak. For this to exist in the laboratory, it requires 150W at 30 cm without the lens. What power would be necessary if the source is at 1000 m or more with the lens attached?
More over the human skin feels heat from 150 W at 30 cm but the witnesses didn’t feel anything. This experiment proves only the existence of the Herschel effect but the effect is weak and doesn’t allow for anyone to conclude the picture was erased by this effect. Moreover, there are four points on this picture that were not erased.
The Herschel effect hypothesis is not very probable and is inconsistent with the data. It makes some unverifiable assumptions:
The UFO had very advanced technology.
The UFO knew it was being observed by these people.
The UFO knew it had a camera point ed at it.
The UFO can emit in a time shorter than 1/125 s an IR light in the direction of the camera or maybe it was emitting continuously IR.However, if it did this, how can it be explained that earth satellites never detected it? The sensitivity of the military satellites in IR is so great they can detect meteorites entering the earth atmosphere.
Finally, why can we find four points in the picture that were not erased when IR was supposed to erase the entire frame?
This appears to be an ad hoc hypothesis to justify why the UFO was not photographed.
NOTE: In the Petit-Rechain picture, there is no IR but another ad hoc hypothesis, UV light is used to explain an apparent move. UV light could not reach the film layer (Acheroy report).
A more likely hypothesis is that the film was underexposed is ignored and should have been the first thing that to be considered. With the photographer stating he used a film speed of 1600 and maximum aperture of F5, the most important parameter was the exposure time.
The French photographic review “Chasseur d’Images”, n°322, April 2010, p 100, contained the article, “Contraintes de la prise de vue en basse lumière” (free translation: “Obliged data for filming in low light”), which stated:
“Tout cliché est un compromis entre trois paramètres, vitesse d’obturation, diaphragme de l’objectif et sensibilité du support sur lequel est enregistrée l’image”
“Each picture is a compromise between three parameters: speed, aperture and sensitivity of the emulsion on which the picture is registered.”
Since two of the parameters are fixed (film sensitivity and aperture) there is only the third parameter (exposure time) that can be changed to obtain correct exposure. Evaluating the testimony
This omission of other hypotheses indicates the witnesses were biased towards interpreting this as an extraterrestrial/exotic object (thereby invoking the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis - ETH). Moreover, the three witnesses were all in the same place and agreed to give the same descriptions of altitude dimension, noise. This agreement on the data means their descriptions must be considered as “ONE UNIQUE testimony” and were not independent of each other.
The low noise level reported by the witnesses can also have a plausible explanation. The noise was weak because the object was at a greater distance.
What does the data reveal?
The first thing to note is that there is missing or unused data from the evaluation of the case. This data should have been examined prior to suggesting an ETH interpretation of the event.
Data missing: the FOV of the telephoto lens. For a 300 mm lens there are three FOVs: 8.1 ° for the diagonal, 7° for the large side of 36 mm, and 5° for the height of 24 mm. The FOV from the telephoto lens is an intrinsic data of the apparatus. This intrinsic data was omitted or ignored by the witnesses and SOBEPS.
Unused data: The angular size of the object through the telephoto lens. Assuming the witness was accurate, the object occupied one third of the FOV according to the witness, which would be 12 mm on The lights of this plane (25 cm in size) would only produce microscopic points. Isn’t this what the witness reported in his picture: “four non erased microscopic points”?
On the side of the picture in VOB1 they describe the picture as a flat trapezoid. The picture really does not permit this assertion because there are no visible elements of the three dimensional object.The assertion that this is a “Flat trapezoid” is an imaginative interpretation.
Assuming it was a plane that was photographed, the laws of geometric optics demonstrate that there could not be anything on the film other than these microscopic points, which would be the light of the beacons. At a distance of 1500 m, the image of a beacon on the film would only be 0.04 mm. The actual shape of the plane would not be recorded in a short exposure time. There is no need to speak of an image erased by the Herschel effect.
The witnesses reported seeing first one light, then two and finally four. It is exactly what you can see when a 747 is approaching. When the plane is far away (15 to 20 km) the four lights are too close together to resolve with the naked eye. The angular separation is too small. A moment later, you see two lights and finally, when the plane comes closer, you see four lights.
The explanation is simple: when we look at distant objects we cannot see details because our eyes cannot resolve the two neighbour points if the angle of separation is lower than about one arc minute (1/60th of a degree). The multiple lights appear as one to the observer.
During a correspondence I had with P. Ferryn in 2008, I wrote:
In my 50 years of photographic experience, I know that, by night, even with very high sensitivity film, it is impossible to obtain more than the point images of these beacons. With the focal length of 300 mm and a speed of 1/125s, the image of the beacon is very small and can only be seen with microscope or scanner.
In his answer, he insisted that the distance between the points on the film had a single frame of 35 mm film.
Analysis of the data
According to the witness, the object was about 60 m wide at a distance of 300 m. With these data, one can calculate the angular size:
Tangent of the angle = 60/300 = 0.2.
This computes to an angle of 11.3°. This information was available to the witnesses and SOBEPS but it was ignored.
The maximum FOV for the telephoto lens was 8.1° and the object was reported to have occupied one third of that FOV . So the angular size of the object through the telephoto lens would be (8.1°)/3 = 2.7°. Compare this to the estimated size and distance given by the witnesses. At that size and distance, it would have been larger than the maximum FOV for the camera system. This value is also about four times (4.19) smaller than the computed angular size of 11.3°. Assuming the estimated size of 60m was accurate, we can conclude the object was at a distance over four times greater then estimated (about 1250m).
Now if we use the formulas for lenses we discover that the an object of 60 m situated at 1250 m produces an image on the film of 12 mm. It is important to also note that an object of 12 m size situated at 250 m would also give the same 12 mm size on the film.
Nevertheless we must consider other hypotheses based on the estimate of angular size in the camera’ s view finder. For distances between 250 and 1250 m the dimensions of the object would range between 12 and 60 m respectively.
P. Ferryn said he had photographed planes at high altitude for comparison. These photographs are missing from the report. Also missing are the first two pictures of the UFO. One has to wonder why?
The plane hypothesis
It must be pointed out that a plane of 60 m size at a distance of 10000 m would only be 1.95mm in size on the 35mm frame when using a 300 mm lens.
to be 12 mm apart, which is what he saw through the viewfinder. So, we can deduce the distance between the points of the film was shorter. I requested that he provide the positions of the points in a rectangle of 24x36 because in VOB1 the picture is cropped. I never received this data.
He added: “the dimension of the subject seen on the viewfinder must inevitably be found on the film”. I answered that he was mistaken and that the image on the film is affected by the exposure time because the film sensitivity is fixed and the diaphragm is open at its maximum. If the exposure time is too short the film may not have been exposed and there would be nothing to see. As a professional photographer he should have known the damaging effects of underexposure, principally in the works of amateurs.
Examining the drawing made by the witnesses and reconstructing the different moments of the event (reconstruction can be found in VOB1 fig 7.18a - see page 24) we notice the following facts:
The description of the observation of one point (A on the picture) that divides in two (B on the picture) and then in four is identical to what you can see when a big plane (like a 747) is approaching. The drawing at point C shows a curved shape, which is a pure mental interpretation (pareidolia) that occurs when an observer mentally links points of light that are separate in a dark sky. Moreover, no shape is seen in picture 7.18c in VOB1. Additionally, picture 7.18c doesn’t show double lights as represented in the reconstruction 7.18a. How can this be explained? Double lights were described by the witnesses and they should have been recorded in the picture. This is not the case.
The yellowish light seen initially probably was due to atmospheric refraction because after that, the witnesses referred to it as a white light.
For comparison I filmed a plane coming in my direction with a camera. I extracted from this film five pictures and I made a photomontage. The lights are seen on the bottom. This picture shows an elapsed time of four minutes. You can see that the shape of the airplane is not visible. Butthe front shape of the lights appears to be curved. It is very interesting to compare my montage and the drawing 7.18a. You can see the final shape on my picture corresponds very closely with the shape drawn by the witnesses. The illusion of a curved shape is very revealing and can explain the drawing of the witnesses.
Some might object that you can’t find the double points of light in my picture. But this is also the case with the picture 7.18c from SOBEPS that differs completely from the drawing.
We discover again in this observation and during the interpretation that the same line of thinking was influenced by the ETH. This case puts together all the elements, methodological mistakes, and unproven assertions/postulates that can create a misinterpretation.
The investigators determined the witnesses and their estimates of distance and height were beyond reproach without performing calculations based on those estimates. These investigators, in the excitement of the moment, immediately adopted an ETH interpretation and neglected important data. The photographer, who was a professional, didn’t know the FOV for his telephoto lens and the method to calculate the angular size of an object. As demonstrated here, the resultant calculation didn’t match what he saw in the viewfinder bringing into question the estimates given.
The witnesses stated they saw a shape behind the lights and thought the picture would show what they had seen. However, the eye is more sensitive than film and they did not consider the likely possibility of underexposure (see the picture at the upper right taken by the editor of an airplane at night using the camera settings described by the witness). Instead, they concluded that the image must have been erased. They also ignored the possibility that the faint noise heard was of a plane’s engines situated farther away than what they had estimated.
When examining the two proposed hypotheses for this event, Occam’s razor indicates the airplane explanation, which does not require any complex assumptions, is more likely.
Vague d’ovnis sur la Belgique: un dossier exceptional : VOB1
Vague d’ovnis sur la Belgique : Une énigme non résolue : VOB2
Inforespace 100, 2000, p 5-40
Analyse et implications physiques de deux photos de la vague belge, web site A. Meessen
Vague Belge : les cas solides Ramillies by FBE on http://adelmon.free.fr
Canon interchangeable lens guide, 1968
Roger Paquay Roger was born in Waremme, Belgium, on 21 October 1941. Entered the Liège Univerity in 1960 in Physical Sciences. Graduated as “LICENCIE EN SCIENCES PHYSIQUES” (Physics) in 1964. Teacher for Physics and mathematics in a secondary school for 15 to 18 year-old students. become Principal of the school in 1986. Retired 1 November 2001. Hobbies include Photography; lectures, walking and travel.
Quelle: SUNlite 6/2010 - by Roger Paquay