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No. 129: MAY-JUN 2000

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An Astronomer's UFO

As long-time readers of Science Frontiers are aware, UFOs get little space here. Every once in a while, though, we see something UFOish worth passing along. The one below is from 1957, and the observer was a famous astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto. Tombaugh was an avid skywatcher as well as an acute telescopic observer. He was very familiar with atmospheric phenomena. His experience belies the common assertion of UFO skeptics that "professional astronomers never see UFOs."

An Unusual Aerial Phenomenon
by Clyde W. Tombaugh

I saw the object about eleven o'clock one night in August, 1949, from the backyard of my home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I happened to be looking at zenith, admiring the beautiful transparent sky of stars, when I suddenly spied a geometrical group of faint bluish-green rectangles of light similar to the "Lubbock lights". My wife and her mother were sitting in the yard with me and they saw them also. The group moved south-southeasterly, the individual rectangles became foreshortened, their space of formation smaller, (at first about one degree across) and their intensity duller, fading from view at about 35 degrees above the horizon. Total time of visibility was about three seconds. I was too flabbergasted to count the number of rectangles of light, or to note some other features I wondered about later. There was no sound. I have done thousands of hours of night sky watching, but never saw a sight as strange as this. The rectangles of light were of low luminosity; had there been a full moon in the sky, I am sure they would not have been visible. (Signed August 7, 1957)

(Swords, Michael D.; "Clyde Tombaugh, Mars, and UFOs," Journal of Scientific Exploration, 13:685, 1999.)

From Science Frontiers #129, MAY-JUNE 2000. 2000 William R. Corliss

Other Sites of Interest

  • SIS. Catastrophism, archaeoastronomy, ancient history, mythology and astronomy.

  • Lobster. The journal of intelligence and political conspiracy (CIA, FBI, JFK, MI5, NSA, etc)

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