- The following is the NIDS reply to a recent
article in the Skeptics UFO Newsletter (SUN) #62 by Philip Klass
suggesting that the recent multiple police officer eyewitness
case on Jan 5, 2000 was based on the police officers mistakenly
seeing the planet Venus.
Rebuttal to SUN #62, March 2000
- By Eric W. Davis, Ph.D. Fellow of the British
Interplanetary Society Member of the American Astronomical Society
Senior Member of the American Inst. for Aeronautics & Astronautics
- The SUN author suggests, on the basis of extremely
brief excerpts taken out of context from eyewitness testimonies,
that a parsimonious explanation for the Illinois UFO case of Jan.
5 is that the UFO "might be Venus. The SUN author then faults
the NIDS analysis because NIDS investigators did not consider
this a possibility.
NIDS considered but rejected stars or planets as possible explanations
for this case on the grounds that the majority testimony identified
the UFO as a large (200-600 feet linear, 40-60 feet thick) triangular-shaped
object possessing (on its underside) downward pointing white lights
arranged at the corners, a red light near the center, possible
additional red lights spaced at intervals across the underside
and near the perimeter, and a row of multicolored lights along
one side between two corner white lights. There also appeared
to be large windows with light emanating through them, but these
could have possibly been openings or light sources.
The bright white lights on the corners were described as blinding
to the eye and lighting up the area below the craft. A witness
estimate of the brightness of the white lights was that they were
much brighter than a police cruiser spotlight. Witnesses observed
the UFO to be hovering, slowly rotating about a vertical axis,
a combination of the first two followed by slow linear motion,
and slow linear motion or hovering followed by sudden linear accelerations
sending the object across the sky to the witness's apparent horizon.
The UFO was flying at low altitude, described by witnesses as
being tree top or 1000-2000 feet above ground. The object flew
northeast to southwest from Highland at 4 a.m., later observed
at Lebanon and Shiloh in Illinois, changed its course to northwest
and then changed course again heading southwest. At 4:30 a.m.
it was sighted at 10,000 feet altitude near Dupo, changing direction
from southwest to north then to east while maintaining that altitude
(knowing that this altitude is very approximate), yet at this
time Venus was still less than a degree above the horizon and
very difficult to see. The object hung around the Dupo area for
about two more hours.
- These facts together do not argue in favor
of a planet or star explanation for the UFO. They argue in favor
of an aerial object, a craft, possessing extended physical dimension,
shape, complex array of lights along with slight sound. The present
data is insufficient to determine whether this object was a special
access (black) program vehicle or something of unknown origin.
The planet Venus was not above the horizon until it rose at 4:25
a.m. on January 5 in Illinois/Missouri and it was -4.07 visual
magnitude. At 4:30 a.m. Venus was 0° 45, (corrected for atmospheric
refraction) above the horizon when it could first become visible
to local observers, but generally difficult to see because of
the surrounding trees, rolling hills and structures known within
the localities of the UFO sighting. Venus was at 4° 38, (corrected
for atmospheric refraction) below the horizon at 110° 52, azimuth
(between E and SE) when the UFO was first sighted near Highland,
Ill. in the northeast part of the sky by the first witness at
approximately 4 a.m. At this altitude below the horizon, Venus
will not be seen any earlier in this time frame due to refraction.
(The refraction angle correction for visible star/planet altitude
above/below the horizon is measured in arc minutes, 1/60th of
a degree, which decreases in value as objects approach zenith,
and 30 arc minutes is the maximum refraction correction at the
The second witness saw the UFO in Lebanon approximately ten minutes
later when Venus was still 2° 49, (corrected for atmospheric refraction)
below the horizon (112° 23, azimuth). The police log in Lebanon
also noted that witness one's report was recorded at 4:10 a.m.
ten minutes after he sighted the object in Highland. Jupiter (-2.51
visual mag.) rose at 12:11 p.m. on January 4 and set at 1:15 a.m.
on January 5 so it was not in the sky during the January 5th event.
Mercury (-0.77 visual mag.) was well below the horizon near the
sun until it rose at 7:02 a.m. that morning. Vega (visual mag.
0.10, NE), Arcturus (visual mag. 0.02, E), Sirius (visual mag.
1.6, SW), Procyon (visual mag. 0.5, SW), Rigel (visual mag. 0.3,
W), Betelgeuse (visual mag. 0.6, W) and Capella (visual mag. 0.2,
NW) are the only relatively bright stars at or above the horizon
after 4 a.m. January 5. But again, they (visual magnitudes and
sky positions) do not fit the facts as described by the eight
witnesses as an explanation for the UFO.
- A thorough forensic investigation requires
consideration of all facts and details gathered from complete
eyewitness testimony, and not just from selected excerpts from
same such testimony. Anything short of this is irresponsible.
The testimony transcripts were put on the internet to make clear
to interested readers the evolution of events as described by
the witnesses interviewed by NIDS. It is erroneous that the SUN
author would extract selected excerpts from witness testimony
out of context as described in SUN #62 (March, 2000) so as to
frame a simple explanation for the Illinois UFO. For example,
the SUN author neglected the rest of witness one's testimony describing
how the object "kept moving and "kept getting closer as he continued
to watch it in the northeastern sky until it was close enough
to him that he could see the underside and side of the object,
describing it's size, array of red lights and windows on it. The
object kept moving on to the southwest. Venus was below the horizon
and between east and southeast at the time.
The preceding sighting took place
in January 2000, Illinois, USA.
To further understand the significance
of this article
Also see: MSNBC article re: NIDS reassessment
of triangular UFO sightings
NIDS Web Site
General rules Mr. Klass should have followed
when investigating this case