Leer en español

2010/04/29 (EN)

English language editing: Martin Shough
Physically, FOTOCAT is an Excel spreadsheet of UFO and IFO cases in which a photographic image has been obtained on film, video or digital media. It contains 27 data columns to register the date, time, location, province and country, explanation (if one exists), photographer’s name, special photographic features, references, etc. When completed, the full catalogue will be posted on the internet, for free access to the worldwide UFO community.
• Case Number
At the time of writing (April 4, 2010), the current number of cases comprised by FOTOCAT has just reached 10,000 entries.
The formal closing date for admission of cases to this computerized inventory is December 31, 2005. This is the general closure date for case collection. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, motivated by the author’s research plans: Argentina’s closure date is December 31, 2006; Spain’s (general) is December 31, 2008; for ball lightning cases it is December 31, 2009; for military cases in Spain it is unlimited; and for landing cases in Spain it is unlimited.
In order to offer more precise information on the contents of the databank, the following tabulation shows the yearly distribution plus some highlights for selected years.
Before1900 17 5 ball lightning events
1900-1946 137 31 ball lightning events, 17 foo-fighter events
1947 81 66 USA
1948 18
1949 24
1950 86 8 George Adamski
1951 23
1952 112 73 USA
1953 54
1954 126 27 Italy, 19 France
1955 59
1956 80
1957 124 61 USA (including 11 Trevor J. Constable infrared pictures)
1958 92
1959 67
1960 76
1961 93 15 Yusuke Matsumura, Japan
1962 86 8 Yusuke Matsumura, Japan
1963 88 25 Thor Agena aborted launch, Arizona, February 28
1964 89
1965 213 46 Argentina
1966 193 104 USA
1967 270 151 USA, 16 Canada
1968 221 55 Argentina, 37 Spain
1969 127 13 Outer space (astronauts)
1970 93
1971 119
1972 146 14 Sweden
1973 200
1974 263 64 Missile MSBS, France and Spain, June 12
1975 220 34 France, 33 Spain, 25 “Billy” Meier, Switzerland, 25 Japan
1976 150 28 Spain
1977 217 34 France, 32 Spain
1978 257 47 Spain, 32 Argentina, 11 Missile SSBS France, Dec 2
1979 185 30 Missile Poseidon, Canary Islands, Spain, March 5
1980 124 29 Spain, 15 Kosmos 1188, Russia and Argentina, June 14
1981 80
1982 90 27 Hessdalen Phenomena events, Norway
1983 72
1984 81 25 Hessdalen Phenomena events
1985 104 21 MIR Balloon, Chile and Argentina, Aug 17 and Sep 17
1986 59
1987 50 9 Gulf Breeze (GB)
1988 91 15 Gulf Breeze, 19 Spain
1989 134 7 Missile S-3 sightings in France, Spain and Italy, March 21
1990 150 15 GB, 15 Belgium, 12 Germany flare cases, August 24
1991 159 25 Argentina, 22 Mexico, 20 GB, 10 Fco. Chechi, Chile
1992 122 13 Gulf Breeze
1993 170
1994 200 34 Mexico, 25 Argentina, 17 Spain, 16 Italy
1995 197 22 Spain, 9 José María Fernández, Puerto Rico
1996 211 32 Spain, 24 Brazil
1997 203 22 Argentina
1998 249 56 Hessdalen automatic measurement station (AMS)
1999 292 87 Hessdalen AMS
2000 267 92 Hessdalen AMS, 23 unseen by photographer events
2001 340 92 Hessdalen AMS, 38 unseen by photographer events
2002 408 61 unseen by photographer, 26 Hessdalen AMS
2003 336 65 unseen by photographer, 14 Marsha Adams, Arizona
2004 580 171 unseen by photographer
2005 609 192 unseen by photographer, 32 Venda Jones, Texas
2006 166 141 Argentina, 23 Spain, 2 ball lightning
2007 23 18 Spain, 4 ball lightning, 1 exception
2008 24 21 Spain, 3 ball lightning
2009 3 2 Spanish military, 1 ball lightning
I would like to remind you that I am always seeking for information on UFO photographic cases, especially from the last century. Readers interested in receiving any listing for their home state, province, region, department, or country, for checking and review purposes are encouraged to write to me (fotocat@anomalia.org) for a catalogue tailored to their geographical orientation.
• New Data Column
Not really knowing what UFOs are for sure, FOTOCAT integrates into its records information on photographs of another type of elusive, short-live phenomenon like ball lightning. In order to be able to treat BL cases distinctly, therefore, a new column has been added to the Excel structure of the catalogue, where *BL* serves to recognize and retrieve ball and bead lightning events.
• A Catalogue of Ball Lightning Photographs in Preparation
Linked to the above, I have just completed a full review of my large files on this subject, including the extensive bibliography on ball lightning in my library. Although not at all comprehensive, it has resulted in the production of a repertoire of photographic examples of ball lightning and bead lightning. This first draft catalogue (90 entries) is now being circulated among several specialists with the aim of collecting additional cases and improving the detail content of the register.
Those of you with an interest in ball lightning who wish to consult and contribute to the last version of the catalogue in the making are invited to write me (fotocat@anomalia.org). A paper is being written and every assistance received will be duly acknowledged in the final publication.
Papers, articles and research reports by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, just published or reedited.
• Updated Bibliography, 1965-2009
Interested parties may wish to know that I have posted my latest UFO research bibliography, covering years 1965 to 2009, in this link:
• Comments and Reply
In my previous blog’s update, I informed of the release of the paper by Ballester Olmos and Guasp “Infrared Photographs of Alleged UFOs” at NARCAP’s:
This article is the English translation of a section of a book by us originally published in Spanish in 1981. Dr. Bruce Maccabee has been kind enough to submit the following comment (dated December 18, 2009):
I read your paper on what might be called atmospheric thermal UFOs. I think the reasoning is not correct. (That is not to say that I believe the images on infrared film are UFOs.)
Without direct evidence of same I would not accept the idea that temperature variations in the atmosphere are sufficient to cause images on IR film. IR film is sensitive to "red" wavelengths that are just beyond human vision. The long wavelength limit of vision is about 0.68 microns. The film is sensitive to wavelengths as long as 0.9 microns. (Modern CCD imaging devices in cameras and video cameras are sensitive out to 1 micron) [1 micron = 1 micrometer = 0.000001 m]
As you pointed out thermal radiation power depends upon the SB 4th power law. If you consider a calm atmosphere with thermal "bubbles" rising ("thermals"), you find that the temperature of the thermals is only a few degrees above that of the atmosphere surrounding the bubble. A camera looking at the scene has to look through the air between the camera and the bubble (and thus picks up radiation from the air) and it also sees the atmosphere around the bubble. The question then arises that, assuming the film could be sensitive to the temperature of the air bubble, wouldn't it also be sensitive to the surrounding air which is only a few degrees different? The question is, would the film even respond to the thermal radiation from an air bubble at normal temperature, say, 30° C – 35° C?
IMHO the film would not respond to the heated air. I know from experience with a CCD video camera (Sony "Night Shot" type) that the camera can see bodies that are nearly "red hot" from the visual perspective. To make this explicit, imagine a red hot piece of iron. I can see it in the dark and so can the camera (record a picture). As it cools the redness fades and I can no longer see it (everything is totally dark now), but it is still very hot and the camera can see it.
However, after a few minutes the camera can't see it either. It is still too hot to handle. Camera film responds similarly to the cooling of a hot body, but it is less sensitive than the CCD. The point here is, the air bubble would have to be "too hot to handle" to be detected by the film (nearly "red hot" air).
A useful test of this theory would be to photograph the air coming out of a high temperature chimney or exhaust pipe with the hot air silhouetted against the dark night sky. If the hot air temperature is great enough it will be picked up by the CCD.
(Note: most video cameras and still digital cameras that use a CCD also use a "near-IR" filter which reduces the sensitivity to the infrared so that pictures will look "normal" and will not be affected by very hot objects in the picture.)
I have asked my book coauthor, physicist Miguel Guasp, to comment on the above reflections as he wrote the original piece, and this is what Miguel has to say in this regard:
Bruce Maccabbe’s remarks are not without some merit. He raised two main points:
The first concerns whether the thermals, by virtue of being only a few degrees above the environment’s temperature, could emit enough radiation as to be recorded by infrared film. Maccabee is referring to the fact that the wavelength which draws the most emissive power in the thermal’s temperature is not within the range of sensitivity of conventional infrared films used by aficionados (he mentions it is between 0.68 microns -corresponding to the visible limit near infrared- and 0.9 microns). The truth is that I do not remember the exact characteristics of infrared films used by the aficionados when we wrote the section in our joint book, although I do remember I studied it at the time. In any case, let us suppose that this was the upper limit (0.9 μm). For this wavelength corresponds to the highest emissive power, very high temperatures are needed; so, for example, Meteosat, the satellite used by our Space Weather Agency (AEMET) to capture infrared images of the atmosphere uses a band from 10.5 to 12.5 μm.
A thermal, at 35° C, would have its largest emissive power at around 9.4 μm. However, one thing is to design a film (or detector) to capture and optimize the images of these thermals and another is that resulting images may or may not be captured, incidentally, by infrared film in the range of 0.68 to 0,9 μm. Considering we have here a continuous spectrum, we cannot really rule out that certain radiation may reach to that band in the infrared spectrum.
However, this leads to the second question Maccabee poses (an inference from the first), that is, even assuming that thermals could successfully be detected by infrared film in the range cited: should the film not also register the images of the atmospheric environment, only a few degrees (it is not clear how many) below the thermals? (Unless there is a noticeable difference in temperature, the amount of radiation in both cases would not differ substantially.) He mentions his own experience with images taken with a CCD video camera, where the visible masses do appear.
With respect to this and although the issue is not very clear, we must say that this could be influenced by two factors: first, as for the clusters that ascend at a constant temperature and depending on the circumstances, there might be differences in temperature between the thermal and the photographer’s environment larger than those he cites as an example (about 5 degrees). The second factor is the film itself. CCD cameras do not work the same as conventional film, the latter’s response being consistent with a known characteristic curve for every film, which relates its optical density to the logarithm of the exposure time. In the case of CCD devices –although there is no optical density in them- they respond linearly with the exposure.
The difference is that CCD devices are not only more sensitive but they can differentiate images with similar exposures in a much broader range of exposure than in the case of conventional film, in which only one area of its characteristic curve is suitable for it: it might happen in the latter that the less-exposure- images are masked near the veil area of the film.
In summary, while conventional infrared film is not ideal for capturing such images, one cannot rule that it happens occasionally. On the other hand, there are not many other alternatives left to explain the experiences of the aficionados, because even if the images were generated by other sources of heat (other air masses, who once we considered in our text) the situation would be very similar to what we have just analyzed.

Long-time friends and colleagues in UFO research, Miguel Guasp Carrascosa (right) and V.J. Ballester Olmos met once more in order to discuss the above text (Valencia, March 2010.)
I thank both Bruce Maccabee and Miguel Guasp for their remarks. I would like to close this discussion with a personal postscript. Any veteran ufologist is well aware of the aberrant “finding” of UFOs (even called “invisible animals”) when exposing IR film in deserts or other areas and discovering globes or other shapeless forms after having the film developed, both black & white, or color. This practice has been pursued by aficionados in Europe and the United States since the early 1950s almost until our days. Success is guaranteed, since frequently the film records “objects” that the eye does not see, obviously because there is nothing out there to see. The names of eccentric, curious types have been associated to this kind of photography, like Trevor James Constable and James O. Woods (Mojave Desert, California, 1957), Atte Särkelä and Ahti Karivieri (Pudasjärvi, Finland, 1970) or Antonio José Alés (Rociana, Spain, 1975), who obsessively took roll after roll of IR film to be amazed by the luminous entities appearing in the prints. They interpreted the blobs of light in the film as space critters, but their “evidence” led to nowhere. In 1981, Guasp and I were precursors in contributing some rationality to this nonsense with the piece now translated into English and released by NARCAP. Ours was just a preliminary examination but the bottom line was clear: the explanation of these photographic effects lies in the physics of the atmosphere, combined with the time exposure of the infrared film in the open air, and not in any anomaly, therefore this evidence is to be dismissed entirely. In my opinion, any critique of this approach is just beating around the bush.

Cover of International UFO Reporter, March 2010.
• The 1979 Landing at Turís, Spain
Cover and pages 3 to 7 and 22 to 24, the newest issue of the International UFO Reporter (Volume 33, Number 1), published March 2010, includes an article by this author: “Imagination or Reality? The Landing at Turís”, where a well-investigated CE3 claim is revisited after a new inquiry was accomplished recently.
I wish to thank Richard Heiden for a splendid translation and the editors of IUR for their high publishing standards. The journal is published quarterly by the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, P.O. Box 31335, Chicago, Illinois 60631, USA.
E-mail: Infocenter@cufos.org
This section gives acknowledgments and thanks for cooperation and assistance received from new collaborators.
• Books Received
Courtesy of Joan Woodward, author of Animal Reactions to UFOs: A Preliminary Investigation from the Animal Perspective, we have received this 60-page MUFON Special Publication released on July 2005
Monsieur Rémy Fauchereau of Yonne (France) is a biology technician with scientific training who is a member or correspondent of many specialized associations at local, regional or national level (SCEAU, SPICA, CNEGU, GERU, FFU). He has sent to our Project the 5 books he has published. Three are large volumes with collections of press clippings devoted to UFOs in France: Les OVNI dans la Presse Locale (newspaper L’Yonne Republicaine), volume 1 for the period 1967 to 1976 and volume 2 for 1977 to 2008, and Les OVNI dans la Presse Locale, 1973-1987 (covering North-Eastern French papers). Also, the booklet entitled 50 ans de manifestations OVNI dans l’Yonne. Finally (including now the author’s own personal field work), La vague du 5 novembre 1990. This mine of information has been duly processed and a number of new cases -as well as other information pertaining to events already known- have been added to FOTOCAT France, the national catalogue in progress. I wish to thank him for his kindness and valuable help. The author of these compilations can be reached at:

SOBEPS’ staff members P. Ferryn (center) and L. Brenig (right) with V.J. Ballester Olmos during a meeting of EuroUFO in France, October 2005.
• SOBEPS Photographic Archives Transferred to FOTOCAT
One of the most influential UFO organizations in Europe has been the SOPEBS, acronym for Société Belge d’Etude des Phénomènes Spatiaux, or Belgian Society for the Study of Space Phenomena. Founded in Brussels in 1971 by a few scientists and UFO investigators, SOBEPS’ cardinal visible accomplishment was the regular publication of the journal Inforespace. There were 115 issues of a fine, documented, generally serious, sometimes even scientific periodical released between 1972 and 2007. I am fortunate to be one of those researchers who have all the numbers of the magazine, with several thousand pages of very interesting information on case reports, analysis, methodology and sound reflections. SOBEPS is known to have played an important role in the study of the 1989-1991 UFO wave in Belgium, and it left its imprint in the literature with the publication of two excellent books: Vague d’OVNI sur la Belgique, 1991 (Vol. 1) and 1994 (Vol. 2). In their 35 years of existence, three founding members have survived the abrasive passage of time: President Michel Bougard, Secretary Lucien Clerebaut and noted investigator Patrick Ferryn.
But everything that starts has an end, especially when it is rooted in good will, lack of funds, and amateurism. In December 2009 SOBEPS announced the dissolution of the society. Or should I say the transformation of the entity to COBEPS, for Committee for the Study of Space Phenomena, a team under the leadership of Patrick Ferryn and physicist Dr. Leo Brenig who, without the burden of magazine publishing, book-selling, office management, etc., will continue collecting and investigating UFO sightings in Belgium.

Jean Leroy (right) meets V.J. Ballester Olmos at Valencia for the physical transference of SOBEPS files, February 2010.
In 2009, Patrick Ferryn wrote to offer the historical UFO photographic archives to FOTOCAT. As project’s head, I admit I was flattered to know that this huge repository, a labor of love of many people during so many years was to be donated to contribute to our catalogue work. At the same time, it was the best possible option to have all the files centralized into an ordered archive of 10,000 UFO photographic sightings from all over the world. Nowadays, frankly, there is no better place for this material to end up. The good work by dedicated students for decades will be preserved, catalogued, filed and professionally maintained.

SOBEPS files are displayed spread on a table. There is much more than meets the eye!
In February 2010, Jean Leroy, a Belgian citizen living in Benicarló (Castellón, Spain) and the COBEPS webmaster, brought to Valencia, FOTOCAT Project headquarters, a large box containing several hundred photographs, slides, reproduction negatives, and three catalogues of UFO pictures: a description of 336 slides by Bougard and Clerebaut, a list of 568 UFO pictures from 1942 to 1973, and a 106-page register of UFO photos distributed by country (both made by SOBEPS personnel). Currently, this important quantity of materials is being sorted out, referenced, filed, and included into the FOTOCAT database and physical archives. There is some material from the 1989-1991 wave still being processed at the source which will be submitted gradually at a later date.
I am very much grateful to the SOBEPS directorate for this extraordinary donation.
This section will display a sample of UFO photographs or footage whose study is revealing, or educative at least.
• The UFO near the Airport
How many UFO events are in the unidentified category because of lack of proper investigation? The history of ufology is a tale of impressive visions that turned into conventional happenings after due inquest. Of course, this also applies to UFO images appearing in negatives. What follows is an example of a possible anomaly that was solved because of good communication between the photographer and the expert.
It was started by famed, long-time ufologist and reporter Milton Hourcade. Saying that Milton is a citizen from Uruguay living and working in the US, now retired, would do no justice to him, as over 50 years ago he founded CIOVI, one of the oldest UFO organizations in Latin America, with many links with foreign UFO groups, the USAF and local military authorities. CIOVI was just closed in its 50th anniversary and since then Milton has created an internet forum called UASPG (or GEAFI in Spanish acronym), see its blog at: http://www.uapsg.org/

Surroundings of O’Hare airport from the air and the “UFO” imaged on August 5, 2007. © Milton Hourcade.
To make a long story short, on August 5, 2007, when he was in an airplane about 7 minutes before landing at O’Hare international airport at Chicago, he took a series of air pictures of the city. Later on, when he transferred the photographs from the digital camera to the computer, not immediately but after having seen it 3 or 4 times, his attention was caught by a whitish circular object that appeared in the lower left corner of the first picture. Coincidentally, a tail of gas seemed to follow the object, producing a shape like a reversed C, or something like a big interrogation mark (?). At the time of snapping the photos, Mr. Hourcade was concentrating on the sights of Chicago city and he did not see anything appearing abnormal.
Initially, it was thought that it is an object on the ground, and that the gas seen there is just a cloud. But looking more carefully, doubts were cast, therefore expert help was required and Hourcade asked NARCAP to analyze the document. It was done by a proficient photographic analyst, John English, who was able to provide a solution in a very short time. This is what he wrote:
The first and largest photo in your email contained a wealth of information. A large section of your aircrafts left wing is clearly visible relative to the runways at O'Hare. This gave me your direction of travel and relative position to the airport. Another Google look-down and zoom-in established the runway that is at approx. 90 degrees to the aircrafts wing to 32L as runway compass headings are painted on the runway threshold. There are several prominent land features discernable below the aircrafts line of flight confirming the ground location relative to the disc. A search from Google Earth of the area containing the disc in your original photo was done with the street name overlay turned on giving me the street intersection. This permitted a generic reverse address search, giving me names of residences and businesses within the search area. A brief search on LNG storage gave me the characteristics of this type of tank with the ability to have a convex and concave top with periodic venting.
Not a flying object with a contrail but a circular ground facility, one big liquefied gas storage! In our humble opinion, this is a deserving example of the kind of study one can do presently with the available tools at hand, coupled with a rational mind. The above conclusion was complemented with a number of helping images in the following pdf file that the reader will find very didactic by its approach to the problem:
This section is devoted to delivering information on research, articles of note, books, symposia and other news from selected sources which are considered worthy of the attention of serious-minded UFO investigators.
• The UFOs of Kumburgaz: An Amazing Finding
During several dawns of Spring and Summer of years 2007, 2008 and 2009, a man named Yalcin Yalman recorded tens of videos of supposed UFOs from a beach at Kumburgaz, Turkey. Many of his videos have been broadcast on the Internet through YouTube.
Skilled Chilean photo-analyst and chemist by profession Andrés Duarte has just published an unerring investigation of this series of sightings, one that has been qualified as “excellent and lapidary” by his compatriot, the studious Marcos González. To me, this is a work worthy of wider dissemination, this is why its reading is quite recommended. The essay by Duarte (in Spanish) can be found here:
• British UFO Declassification. The Spanish Connection
Thanks to Manuel Borraz for calling my attention to this information extracted from Dr. David Clarke’s blog site devoted to the public release of the British Ministry of Defense UFO assets:
DEFE 24/1967 – This file contains correspondence between the Spanish UFOlogist Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos and the MoD’s UFO desk officer Nick Pope concerning a flap of UFO reports over the UK in the early hours of 31 March 1993. This has subsequently become known as “the Cosford Incident” and is cited by Pope as the one unexplained case that helped to transform him from a skeptic to a believer in the existence of UFOs piloted by extraterrestrials. However, this file shows that Ballester Olmos supplied Pope with a comprehensive explanation for the sightings on 21 March 1994. He enclosed copies of a NORAD statement and computer simulation which shows the UFO was in fact the rocket that launched the Russian ELINT satellite Cosmos 2238. This was confirmed by other sightings made in Ireland and France on the same night, which resulted in a press release by the French CNES Space Agency confirming the Cosmos rocket as the source. In his response to Ballester Olmos dated 6 April 1994, Nick Pope makes the following statement: “I think it is clear that most of the UFO sightings that occurred on the night in question can be attributed to this event.”
• UFOs and the Moon
Anyone who has done field work or has analyzed case reports will have found that, among the astronomical misperceptions that produce false UFO sightings, the Moon plays a role. Perhaps not in quantity of events but certainly it gives rise to curious examples of apparent UFO pursuit or even close encounters. Surprise, preconceived ideas and fear deceive the eye-witness, as the psychology of perception teaches as most of us have been able to verify by studying actual reports.

Close encounter with the Moon at Saint-Laurent, Vosgues (France), August 8, 1976. Illustration by GEOS.
A 2010 updated edition of a 1994 report has just made available. Authored by Gilles Munsch and other members of the French group CNEAGU, Opération Saros now in pdf format can be downloaded from the following link: http://sd-2.archive-host.com/membres/up/28066944658026803/Saros_1976.pdf
The 111-page paper (in French) deals with several confusions with the Moon researched by a team of local field investigators during 1976, showing probative evidence. I consider the text an useful guide for the phenomena the ufologist has to manage over time, and therefore it is recommended reading.
• Forthcoming Symposium on Ball Lightning
The first call for papers to the 11th International Symposium on Ball Lightning, to be held at the I. Kant University of Kaliningrad (Russia), has been announced officially. See the enclosure:
Your volunteer collaboration with the FOTOCAT Project is requested. Please write to: fotocat@anomalia.org
We will happily supply with state, region, province or nation-oriented catalogues to any active researcher for checking and expanding purposes.
If you are willing to donate photographic materials, case files or literature to be preserved for posterity, feel free to use the following postal address:
Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos
Apartado de Correos 12140
46080 Valencia