How could the moon be a UFO? It does not seem to happen often but, under the right conditions, people can be fooled by the moon. I haven’t seen any such cases in any of the MUFON/NUFORC databases but I did not look very hard. One needs to know when and where to look.
In my copy of the MUFON investigators field manual (3rd edition), Raymond Fowler states:
A rising or setting red-hued moon is sometimes reported as a UFO, especially in its gibbous phase. Atmospheric refraction and light dispersion can cause the moon’s shape to be distorted and unrecognizable to a frightened witness...The situation can become even more aggravated if the observer is viewing it through eyeglasses, windows, screens, curved windshields, etc. As in the case of stars and planets, viewing the moon on the horizon, or through clouds or fog, or from a moving vehicle can give the illusion of being chased by a huge glowing object.1
The rising and setting moon can create interesting shapes. I recently saw a photograph on the web of a square shaped moon rising in Alaska. A temperature inversion had distorted the moon significantly. It is possible that somebody, who did not bother to look a few minutes later, might declare they saw a UFO simply because it did not look like the moon.
During the Michigan UFO flap of 1966, there was a photograph published in the media that supposedly showed UFOs over the farm of Frank Mannor in Dexter. It is interesting to read that the photograph was a time exposure of ten minutes. A quick check of a planetarium program for the date and time in question reveals that the UFOs were, more than likely, Venus and the moon.
A setting moon can look really strange to a person under the right conditions. The sequence above comes from some photographs I took of a setting crescent shows the reddish-yellow color and how the trees can hide portions of the disk giving it an odd shape. When it sets, it can appear to “rapidly disappear/move away” from the observer.
According to Allan Hendry, a similar scenario caused a group of police officers to chase the moon:
In case 100 police officers in separate cars were convinced that the setting moon was moving away from them at fantastic speed “while setting on Main street” at 3:25 AM. The police sped up to 60MPH to chase it, but to no avail.2
Hendry also points to a case, which did not require the moon to be setting or rising. In this case, a waitress and two other people reported a UFO that mysteriously disappeared after being visible for fifty minutes:
A waitress in California got home at 3:57 AM when she saw a saucer “twenty-five feet in diameter” with red, green, and blue flashing lights and a cloud haze around it. This report had a lot of other provocative elements going for it:
1) The waitress called two more adult witnesses, who also filled out reports describing the saucer.
2) Two lights were seen next to the saucer that looked like stars but pulsated different colors like the object.
3) The saucer hovered stationary over a hospital for fifty minutes and then shot straight into the sky very rapidly. Surprisingly, the two “stars” disappeared at the same time.
4) A loud humming noise was heard throughout the observation. At the end, the hum got louder and changed into a high-pitched loud beeping sound just prior to the “rapid ascent”
5) The lights were seen dimming and brightening in the parking lot of the Grossmont Hospital over which the saucer hovered, “as if it were sucking energy from them.”
6) Animal reactions included her parakeet screeching and her dogs howling and barking.
7) Physiological reactions were present here too; while watching the saucer the waitress felt as if she were in a trance and could hardly speak. She felt drained of energy and it was an effort to move around for the next forty minutes.
Sounds pretty good right? Attempts at identification and further corroboration were falling through. A local field investigator checked with the Miramar RAPCON and Gillespie field but no radar observation of anything unusual was noted. The local police department received no calls. The La Mesa police department claimed to have had two calls but sent no car. All police helicopters were down at the SD helicopter base at that time, and a check with the Grossmont Hospital personnel revealed that nothing unusual was noted at the “scene” of the drained power. Remembering that Mars and Jupiter were “scheduled” to be positioned very close to each other at that date, I checked my star charts and astronomy magazines to determine whether Mars and Jupiter could be that pair of stars seen next to the saucer. Imagine my shock when I discovered not only the Mars-Jupiter pair in the direction and bearing provided by all of the witnesses, but a horizontally oriented crescent moon positioned exactly where they put the saucer right next to the “stars”! Searching through the reports of all the adult witnesses, I confirmed that none of them had reported seeing the moon at the same time as the object although they said it was “clear” out! Yet all of the witnesses put the direction and bearing of the “saucer” right where the moon should be. Also, they all agreed that its apparent size fell somewhere between “one half” and “two times” the moon’s width.
Remarkable? Remember that the witnesses had described a cloud or haze around the moon. Obviously, that same haze was responsible for the brightening and dimming of the hospital parking lot lights a half mile away, the saucer’s colors, and the eventual obscuring of the moon, Mars, and Jupiter resulting in the sudden disappearance. Now it is no longer surprising that Mars and Jupiter disappeared at the same time as the saucer... It must be concluded then that the other effects, such as the beeping noises and animal reactions, must be ascribed to other causes.3
Dr. Jill Tartar mentioned an experience where the moon, partially hidden by clouds, appeared as a UFO to her at one point. She did not file a UFO report simply because she took the time and effort to identify it. Dr. Tartar took a lot of grief from UFOlogists for this but are her observations really worthy of ridicule? Imagine how the police officers and the waitress responded when Hendry had to tell them they were fooled by the moon. I wonder if they stated, “I know what I saw and it wasn’t the moon”?!!
Notes and references
Fowler, Raymond ed. 1. Third edition MUFON Field Investigators manual Mutual UFO Network, INC. Seguin, Texas April 1983 p.62
Hendry, Allan. 2. The UFO Investigators Handbook. London: Sphere Books Ltd. 1980. P. 45
Quelle: SUNlite 3/2011