Approximately once each week the UFO-Track™ newsletter concisely keeps you up to date with a summary of the most important data from the UFO-Track project. We also provide snippets and links to a sampling of interesting or important UFO sightings around the country and around the Earth, current news of fireballs, space sciences tidbits, a summary of astronomical data, and a quick informational topic called “John’s Investigator Corner” designed to encourage a scientific and rational approach to the subject of UFOs.
Feel free to read all the sections, or to skip to your favorites. Be sure to let us know of any significant or interesting news, links, or topics you’d like to share with everyone. Above all, keep your eyes to the skies, and enjoy the ride!
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The Phoenix Lights fly-over on the evening of March 13, 1997 is a prime example of an event where the UFO-Track project, if it had been in place at that time, would possibly have created many more witnesses and resulted in significant photographs and videos of the original lights.
While revisiting this sighting, we discovered an interesting bit of information that appears to have largely been ignored by the media, and even by most UFO research organizations. It may be coincidence, but then again, it's a bizarre coincidence if so. Read the next item...
Four young men, all in good health and in their 20's, were last seen off-roading near the Estrella Mountain park at the edge of Phoenix on the evening of March 13, 1997, the same evening that the Phoenix Lights were seen in this same area. On March 14 they were all reported missing, and as of today there's still no explanation for their whereabouts. Over the years, hundreds of volunteers have helped search for the men, with no success.
A few years later a black bear was shot near Tucson, over a hundred miles away, after harrassing a camper. Arizona Federal Wildlife officials declared this bear as the same animal that must have been responsible for killing the four young men. (Other experts strongly dispute this claim for multiple reasons.) The Avondale, Arizona Police would not discuss details of the case.
The men are still missing, as listed here on the U.S. Department of Missing Persons page, and no credible signs of them or their remains have ever been found.
Wendy Connors and Roderick Dyke compiled and archived historic audio recordings, such as an interview with Kenneth Arnold, clips from J. Allen Hynek, and many military witnesses. Many of these recordings were in jeopardy of being lost as time goes on, but they're now restored and archived for anyone to listen to. Isaac Koi and Giuliano Marinkovic re-discovered the archives originally started by Wendy, a project she called "Faded Discs", and the files are now available for download at Archive.org.
A private investigator on a stake-out in the Los Angeles area was waiting for his target person to leave her residence early on the morning of December 3, 2013, when he noticed a very bright object in the pre-dawn sky. He had his video recorder handy, for filming his target's actions, so he was able to capture some pretty good footage of the object. Watch his video as the investigator is interviewed to describe the event.
On December 2, 2013, an apparent meteor, or possibly a meteorite (if it landed) was witnessed by a lot of people in Texas, especially in the Austin area. One witness claims the fireball burst into flames as she saw it impact the earth, so there is the possibility it might have landed. Experts say meteorites don't burst into flames upon landing, so it's possible the witness saw the termination flash while the meteor was actually at a great distance and still several miles high, but searches are underway to see if any meteorite fragments did make their way to the ground. You can read the whole story here.
Wayne Lippard, of Loxahatchee, Florida, claims his 7-year-old son was struck on the head by meteorite fragments a few days ago. A search of the driveway where the incident took place revealed several magnetic (iron containing) small rocks, and that's pretty good evidence that the culprit that caused the gash on the boy's head was a meteorite.
Meteorites very rarely hit people, buildings, or vehicles. Only one other person in recent history, a lady in Alabama, was struck by a meteorite and received a severe bruise on her hip. A car in the state of New York was damaged by a meteorite while sitting in a driveway in 1992.
An international team of astronomers has discovered and verified a large exoplanet, or planet outside of our solar system, that doesn't fit the current models of planetary formation. This massive planet (11 times the mass of Jupiter) orbits its star at a distance about 600 times further out than the Earth is in its orbit around the Sun. Scientists don't understand how this is possible.
Comet ISON would have been spectacular this week, but it apparently vaporized, or at least most of it did, as it looped close to the sun at the perihelion of its orbit. Let's hope for some more comets over the next few years.
Venus continues to dominate the southwest sky for a few hours after sunset for the next few weeks. People who aren't used to seeing Venus when its at this magnitude (brightness) can often be mystified by its sight, and sometimes report it as a UFO.
Jupiter is high in the eastern sky in the late evening hours, and as the night goes on it moves across the southern skies and appears in the west as the Sun starts to rise in the east.
On Friday, December 13th, the Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak between sunset and midnight. The best viewing conditions should be the hour or so between when the moon sets and the sun rises on the morning of the 14th.
UFO witnesses vary greatly in their ability to observe and report details with accuracy. An amateur astronomer will likely report angular size with decent accuracy, whereas a large percentage of the population easily confuses actual size with angular size. They are two very different things, although you can calculate one from the other if you know distance with accuracy.
Unfortunately, UFOs are often so alien (literally) to observers that perception of actual size and distance is elusive. As an investigator, your best bet most of the time is to help your witness pin down the angular size as accurately as possible, and then to make educated guesses as to possible distance and hence the possible size of the object.
To determine angular size accurately, have your witness hold various objects at arms length, if possible while standing at the very spot of the sighting and looking into the same part of the sky, until they think the held object would just eclipse the unknown object. A little trigonometric analysis will then determine the approximate angular size.
If at all possible, never simply ask the observer to make a guess as to what object they could hold at arms length to just cover the unknown object. Human nature being what it is, they'll likely be way, way off. For example, when asked what object held at arms length will just cover the disk of the full moon, most people guess things like a quarter, a golf ball, or sometimes even an orange. Very few people would guess that a standard aspirin tablet at arms length is actually twice the apparent diameter of the moon. Try it!
This week take a look at http://ufos.about.com a great informational site authored by Billy Booth. Current sightings are described, as well as a lot of content covering well known historical sightings and other topics of interest to UFO researchers. Billy provides a great site for newcomers to the subject to get up to speed fast and efficiently, and the review reading is interesting even to those of us already familiar with the subject.
Heavens-Above A great way to check out Iridium flares and overflights of the ISS (International Space Station) in your neck of the woods, or anywhere on Earth for that matter. Iridium flares and the ISS are sometimes reported as UFOs due to their amazing and fascinating appearance in the sky. Plan your next satellite viewing party, or check out sightings with this great tool.
Wolfram Alpha This site provides a vast amount of useful data for UFO researchers. What time did the sun set or rise? What was the phase of the moon and how high was it in the sky on a given date at a given location? What is the latitude and longitude of a sighting?
Sky Data Was the moon in the sky at the time and place of a sighting? How about Jupiter or Saturn? We’ve created a handy, and very accurate, easy to use software tool for UFO investigations, to help clear the air of any questions about exactly which of the visible planets, the moon, and the sun were visible.
UFO investigator toolkit Here’s a list of some tools that serious UFO field investigators may find handy. Keep any of all of these items handy in a quick-grab box or bag so you’ll be ready to go on an investigation at a moments notice.
Mufon is a good organization to join if you want to learn more about UFOs. You’ll keep up to date with the latest sightings in your part of the country as well as around the world. Mufon’s field investigator training is very worthwhile.
Nuforc The National UFO Reporting Center is “Dedicated to the Collection and Dissemination of Objective UFO Data”, providing a great resource for serious investigators.
National UFO Center This web site is the home for George Filer, with over two million hits in October. Consider signing up for his weekly newsletter here, called “Filer’s Files”.
Roger Marsh Another good source of recent sightings information, Roger’s Examiner articles help you keep up to date with the latest. The Examiner articles have recently become overloaded with intrusive advertising, but if you don’t mind wading through them Roger’s information is good.
Fireballs The American Meteor Society provides a list of very up-to-date fireball sightings reports. If there’s any chance a UFO sighting might actually be a meteor entering the atmosphere, or vice versa, this site can help sort out the details.
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