From 1877 to 1887, the decade of the Great Comets, we had a greater
and more representative concentration of phenomena related to UFO
activity than during any other similar period prior to 1947.
Astronomy’s part has been an important one; the pertinent
observations of astronomers extend through the centuries; and to
such an extent that we cannot consider all of them in one short
volume. However, if we consider the decade of the Great Comets, as a
typical slice of UFO History, we shall err but little and that
little quantitative rather than qualitative. The events of the comet
years were numerous and concentrated, but not typical.
Astronomers missed the best cue of their collective lives during
those years, for they were the culmination of generations of
observations which, if accepted at face value and interpreted with
psychic insight, would have authenticated UFO deduction. The comet
years would have supplied visible confirmation to anyone with the
perspicacity to look for it.
It is difficult to select any single event as having initiated this
period. In fact there is no real discontinuity; merely an unusual
surge of erratics. Either of two obscure occurrences might serve as
curtain raisers, but there were straws in the wind before 1877. Dr.
Kirkwood of Indiana University had commented on the unusual, and
increasingly large, number of fireballs reported, and there had been
a modest but steady increase in the number of comets discovered per
Neither of the two minor events within our solar system was great
enough to attract much public attention at a time when astronomy was
moving out of the visual stage into its golden era of spectroscopic
and photographic adventure.
The true magnitude of the universe of stars and nebulae was only
beginning to dawn on the human intellect, and studies of the solar
system beginning to be passé, because objects only a few score
millions of miles distant were too near home to concern the
exploring mind. Yet visual observation rolled up a record in the
later years of the 19th century which may turn out to be Astronomy’s
magnum opus for the race of mankind.
The first of the two little events took place in an obscure corner
of the Mare Serenitatis, which is one of the Seas, or dark areas,
which make up the Man in the Moon. Near the modest sized but
well-known lunar crater called Hyginus by the selenographers, there
appeared sometime in 1877, without fuss or warning, a small but
perfect and distinct crater. It was only a few short miles in
diameter. It was just big enough to be comfortably seen with the
small telescopes of that day. Orthodox astronomers, who did not
believe in changes of the moon, refused to accept the word of the
selenographers at first, and there was a minor intraprofessional
hassle. Eventually the little erratic was called Hyginus N ?
In 1878, a tremendous disturbance broke out on the surface of our
greatest planet. At the beginning it escaped the notice of
professional astronomers. They were busy conquering worlds much
further afield. But the amateurs noted it. The Great Red Spot of
Jupiter (some called livid pink) was some six or seven thousand
miles wide, thirty thousand miles long, shaped like a longitudinal
section of a pecan, and it raced around the planet at a surface
speed of about 200 miles per hour, shouldering aside all one other
surface features of that planet. This storm, if it was such, lasted
several decades. Whether there was anything purposeful about it is
problematical. Certainly for absolute size it dwarfed little Hyginus
But Hyginus N was close to being in our own back yard, and it should
have received more attention than a busy profession gave it. It
should have been remembered when Watson and Swift thought that they
were observing some new planets.
It wasn’t. And science moved on in a manner which has been called
Whether or not the era of the great comets was initiated, or only
marked, by the appearance of Jupiter’s Red Spot, the surface of
Jupiter was exhibiting a condition of great turmoil and disturbance.
Round white spots, and equally well formed dark spots, formed, moved
over the surface and went away. The big cloud belts were sometimes
shifted and distorted. To maintain that such activity on Jupiter was
intelligently directed, or that it actually caused the odd phenomena
in our own neighborhood, would be presumptuous. But that a common
state of disturbance existed both here and there cannot be denied.
Jupiter, largest of the planets, fifth from the sun, is bright and
easy to observe with small telescopes, hence it has been a continuos
subject for amateur astronomical research. The literature is full of
their reports. Jupiter has about a dozen satellites big enough to be
seen from the earth, and some are comparable to our moon in size.
These, together with their 88,000-mile diameter parent, make up a
complex system in which many things may be expected to happen and
many are indeed reported by observers.
Jupiter is practically, if
not actually, a fluid planet, having an average density only a
little greater that that of water, and in spite of its vast bulk,
its surface gravity is only two and one-half times that of the
earth. It rotates on its axis a little less than ten hours with an
equatorial velocity of roughly 28,000 miles per hour, and is so
unstable that different latitudes move with different speeds. Local
spots, both defined and hazy, have movements of their own, and some
pass each other at speeds up to two hundred miles per hour. The
clouds, spots, and belts appear to be floating on a liquid or
Such in the environment of the Great Red Spot which appeared over
night in 1878 and covered an area comparable to that of the entire
It might be expected that such a large feature would be rigidly
attached to a core or substratum. Not so. The Red Spot changed its
speed and position constantly. In twenty years, for all its size, it
drifted more than twice around the planet – total distance of over
half a million miles – and, shoving the cloud belts aside, it
shifted latitude by several hundred miles.
We do not know the depth of the spot. Its silhouette shape was
almost identical with that of the so-called auroral object which
passed over Europe and England in 1882. If it was
three-dimensionally symmetrical, it was shaped like a pecan – which
is to say it had the shape so familiar to UFO observers:
The cigar, spindle or Zeppelin shape – but 8,000 miles in diameter
and 30,000 miles long.
Besides shape and particular movement, the Spot had one other
characteristic in common with Maunder’s Object. There was no
noticeable distortion of its front, or advancing edge, as it plowed
through the cloudy or fluid surface on which it floated, although it
moved with a speed of two hundred miles per hour through the medium.
It is conceded by all scientists that life, such as we know, could
not exist on Jupiter in any form, from our lowest to our highest. As
for life in some other form, or weird, discarnate intelligence, the
limit is defined only by one’s ability to speculate.
I “READ”: “No Life there at all, Malfunction”
Because Jupiter’s great size, complex and turbulent condition,
intricate system of satellites and attendant comets, and its
gravitational effects on all other bodies within the sun’s
bailiwick, it would seem that most anything could happen on or
around the huge orb.
It is a fair question to ask whence came the power to drive this
mass, several times greater than the earth, through the surface
material at such high speeds, and to crowd aside the vast equatorial
belts, sometimes as much as 8,000 miles. What created it; what
started it in motion and what kept it in motion; and what directed
As part of the celestial show of 1878, we should take a closer look
at the reports of Russell and Hirst from the Blue Mountains of
Mr. H.C. Russell was heading a small expedition into the mountains
to study high altitude and clear mountain air for better observing
conditions. Here is his report, extracted from a letter to
…the only observation which I would here place on record was made on
the morning of the 21st
of October (1889) at nine o’clock AM, when, on looking at the moon,
(Mr. Hirst) found that a large part of it
was covered with a dark shade quite as dark as the shadow of the
earth during an eclipse of the moon; its
outlines were generally circular and it seemed to be fainter near
the edges…it quite obliterated the view of
about half the moon’s terminator (or that part where the sunlight
ends) whilst those parts of the
terminator not within the shadow could be very distinctly seen.
should estimate the diameter of the
shadow, from the part we could see on the moon, as about
three-quarters the diameter of the moon. This
is one of those remarkable facts which, being seen, should be
recorded, although no explanation can at
present be offered. One could hardly resist the conviction that it
was a shadow; yet it could not have
been the shadow of any known body…No change in the position of the
shade could be detected after three hours of watching.
This is an important observation it shows that things were going on
in space near the earth. Such an observation as this seems almost
without recorded precedent. The moon was past third quarter and was
proceeding the sun across the morning sky. The shade seen by Hirst
and Russell was either a cloudlike formation between the earth and
the moon, or it was the shadow of something between the moon and the
If between moon and sun, it was well within the intense glare of
sunlight and difficult to see. Not only would it escape a casual
glance but might evade a search and, unless solid, it might be
almost entirely invisible. We cannot tell how far it was from the
moon, but by the geometry of shadows we can make some estimates.
Russell describes the shape as circular and fainter towards the
edges. This is a typical description of a dense umbra and lighter
Making allowance for a tapering shadow, and the estimated
diameter, the object should not have been much over 100,000 miles
away and probably about 75,000 to 80,000 miles. It is similarly
obvious that the object itself must have been approximately the same
size as the combined umbra and penumbra, shall we say about 1,400 –
1,700 miles in diameter. We cannot tell whether it was solid or a
Most important, however, is that this shade did not move in three
hours’ time. With both moon and sun moving, this object so
maintained its position that its shadow, cast by the light of one
moving object, the sun, remained stationary for three hours or more
upon another moving object, the moon. That is control – firm,
steady, calculated and maintained control of position. It implies
purposefulness, persistence, delicacy and … intelligence.
Suppose, on the other hand, that it was not a shadow, but was a
cloud interposed between earth and moon. Its actual size then could
be anything from a gnat to something three-quarters the diameter of
the moon, depending on its distance from the Blue Mountains. Thus we
don’t know the size for certain, except that it was smaller than
1,500 miles in diameter.
But in this case the manipulation of this object was even more
complex. Not only was the object maintained between moon and earth,
it was maintained steadily between moon and a very definite portion
of the earth’s surface which was rotating rapidly while the moon was
revolving around it. This represents doubly intricate control. This
is calculated control of a higher order than the other, and, in
fact, requires more manipulation than simple hovering. By way of
explanation, something more is required than an inorganic spatial
body moving under unmodified laws of Kepler and Newton.
It was this phenomenon which evoked the scorn of the armchair
astronomer and editor, Mr. R.A. Proctor, in London, and caused him
to publicly impugn and the sanity, observational acuity, and even
the good faith of Russell in a long and flippantly scurrilous letter
to the Echo, a London evening paper, March 14, 1879.
Russell replied with considerable warmth to Proctor’s unprovoked
attack, and while he does not overtly say so, it is hard to escape
the belief that he felt there was something purposeful in the
behavior of this cloud and also in the way some other clouds and,
for example, dry frogs, have maintained themselves over limited
parts of the earth. At best he was thoroughly but honestly puzzled.
Proctor’s attack, on the other hand, had some of the characteristics
of whistling in the dark. He showed a perceptible fear of admitting
the reality of Russell’s observation and sought to squelch the
Back to Contents
For generations, perhaps centuries, it was thought that there were
one or more planets revolving within the orbit of Mercury.
Perturbation of that planet and its orbit led to such a conclusion,
particularly before the theory of relativity explained a part of the
disturbance. Over a long period of years, astronomers kept seeing
object of planetary shape and apparently planetary size crossing the
disc of the sun, and these were almost universally assumed to be
intra-Mercurial planets. Somehow it never occurred to anyone that
similar crossings of the moon, also seen occasionally, could be
related, nor that such objects between the earth and moon could
undermine the intra-Mercurial planet Hypothesis.
After a number of carefully observed crossings of the solar disc
were recorded, some of the more able mathematicians calculated
tentative orbits for an intra-Mercurial planet. They based this on
the assumption that the intervals of time between transits were
susceptible to a least-common-denominator which was the probable
time of revolution of the suspected planet around the sun. Such
calculations led consistently to disappointment and sometimes to
heartbreak. No intra-Mercurial planet was ever found, although
mathematical astronomers were so confidant of its existence they
even named it: “Vulcan.”
Much time was spent searching for the hypothetical object and many
an astronomer hoped to make
the discovery and thus perpetuate his name. Since it was realized
that such an object would never be far from the sun, searching was
especially vigorous at times of total solar eclipse. (Such an
opportunity was afforded by the total eclipse of July 29th, 1878 or
which more later).
From the earliest days of organized astronomical observation there
have been these sightings of round and spindle-shaped bodies
crossing the disc of the sun. Some of these observations disclosed
objects so discordant with the established framework of the solar
system that science considered them anomalous and often denied the
validity of the observations and the mental balance of the
observers. Despite scathing linguistic fire, however, some of these
vital notations got through to editors of astronomical and other
Many such observations are tabulated in the Observatory, but they
are also scattered through the scientific literature in general.
Since it has now been irrefutably demonstrated that these could not
have been intra-Mercurial planets, their significance becomes much
more apparent than it was to the casual reader in the early 19th
century. We have changed our conception, and now we can accept these
objects as being close to the earth. The overwhelming mass of
evidence is too great to brush aside, and proves that astronomy has
been sighting UFO’s in space.
During the eclipse of September 7, 1820, crowds in the streets of
Ebrun saw great numbers of objects in the sky, moving in straight
lines, countermarching and turning, all separated by uniform spaces.
Five unidentified bodies of appreciable size were seen by Astronomer
Gruithuisen. Two unknown dark
bodies were seen by Pastorff on October 23, 1822. Webb saw an
unknown thing near Venus, March 22, 1823. Many more unknowns were
reported in 1823, and this may have been another peak period if
these phenomena are really periodic in their appearances. Sporer saw
one crossing the sun August 20, 1863.
Two starlike objects were seen
crossing the sun by Carrington on September 1859. Several examples
are reported in Webb’s Celestial Objects, particularly on the dates
July 31, 1826, to May 30, 1828. Jaennicke saw an unknown object
against the sun on May 30, 1853. The unknown planetary object seen
by several people in London, and described in Nature, has never been
explained. In the summer of 1860, R. Covington saw, without optical
aid, an object crossing the sun. On June 6, 1761, Scheuten was
watching a transit of Venus and saw an object as round, black, and
distinct as Venus, but about one-half it size, moving for three
hours across the sun.
He thought it was a satellite of Venus, but
since the many other skilled observers who watched the transit did
not see this thing, it is most likely that it was very close to the
earth’s surface, and so displaced by parallax that it was
silhouetted against the bright disc only in that one location.
All this leads up to a showdown on the intra-Mercurial planet
question. Since it has been shown by C.H. F. Peters and others that
there is no intra-Mercurial planet, then what are these things?
Although C.H.F. Peters tried to belittle the sightings of all
observers as illusions or fraud, we have difficulty in rejecting the
statement of experienced observers like Staudacher of Nuremberg, who
saw, in February 1762, a round black spot on the sun. He missed it
the next day, and such was its appearance and movement that he
thought it may have been a new planet.
On November 19, 1762, Observer Lichtenberg saw with his unaided eye,
a very large, round spot
one-twelfth the diameter of the sun, traverse a chord of 70 degrees
in approximately three hours. Since
the apparent diameter of the sun is about half degree of arc,
one-twelfth would be about two and one-half minutes or one hundred
and fifty seconds. Mercury’s apparent diameter, when in transit,
averages about twelve seconds, depending on its distance of the
moment, so this thing, if it be considered an intra-Mercurial
planet, must have had an actual size of more than twenty times that
of Mercury, that is, a diameter of 60,000 miles or so.
such a thing as large as Saturn does not exist in any
intra-Mercurial orbit. What then, was it? And how far away? At the
gravitational neutral the apparent diameter of two and one-half
minutes would represent a real diameter of two hundred miles or
less. Again, it seems unlikely that a thing so large would penetrate
the earth-moon system without causing some noticeable disturbance –
so, again, what and how far? At eight hundred miles it would have to
be only about a mile in diameter to appear that big, and we are
getting used to the idea of something a mile or so in diameter and a
few hundred miles away.
Between the first and fifth of May, 1764, Hoffman saw with the naked
eye a large round spot, one-fifth the diameter of the sun, traverse
it slowly from north to south. That is a direction of motion almost
unheard of in the solar system, except, perhaps, for a few maverick
comets. It looks like controlled motion. The size is comparable to
that of Lichtenberg’s object, and the difference is no greater than
would be apparent with an object between earth and moon shifting its
position with the changing location of the gravitational neutral.
On June 17, 1777, Messier, cataloguer of Nebulae and Star Clusters,
saw a number of little bodies crossing the sun very rapidly and in
D’Angos, at Tarbes, France, saw a slightly elliptical, sharply
defined spot on the sun, about halfway between the edge and center,
which took about twenty-five minutes to pass off the disc. That was
on January 18, 1798. This movement is about eight minutes of arc in
twenty-five minutes of time, and at a distance of 1,000 miles this
would represent a speed of about one-mile in ten minutes or six
miles per hour. At 10,000 miles it would be sixty miles per hour,
and at 100,000 miles it would be about six hundred miles per hour
and at 1,000,000 miles distance it would be speeding at 6,000 miles
per hour. No data are available regarding its apparent size, but if
it was ten seconds in diameter, just comfortable for visibility in a
small telescope, its diameter in miles would be about 1/500,000 of
whatever distance you might assign to it.
The next celestial event on our roster is unusually pertinent to our
theme, and must have been startling when it was first published. On
October 10, 1802, at Madgeburg, Fritch saw a spot moving two minutes
of arc in four minutes of time, across the sun and not seen again
after a cloudy spell. Near the sun, e.g., in a deep intra-Mercurial
orbit, this indicates a velocity of 15,000-20,000 miles per minute.
Fritch also states that on March 20, 1800, and February 7, 1802, he
saw spots having rapid motions of their own. In hundred of hours in
the dusty tomes of the Library of Congress, that is the first case I
have found where a scientist has state clearly that these objects
were free-lance agents. Even so he seems to have been imbued with
the idea that they were near the sun, or in other words, in
intra-Mercurial orbits – at any rate not adjuncts of the third
planet and its satellite. This seems to be a statement of controlled
motion, but Fritch said it in 1802, and Fritch was an astronomer!
On January 6, 1818, two Englishmen, Capel Lofft and a Mr. Acton saw
a small subelliptical, opaque spot moving more rapidly over the sun
than Venus moves when in transit. It disappeared before sunset and
seemed to be of either cometary or planetary appearance. This is a
well attested instance of observation by two men who were sober and
Gruituisen saw two bodies cross the sun together on July 26, 1819.
There are a goodly number of sightings which report two objects
traveling together, e.g., the planets seen by Watson and Swift
during the eclipse of July 29, 1878.
A circular, well-defined spot, with a circular atmosphere and
orange-gold tint, not seen again the same evening, is reported by
two independent observers: Stark and Steinbuhl. It crossed the sun
in about five hours. February 12, 1820.
On July 31, 1826, Stark saw a round spot on the northwest border of
the sun at 4:45 PM which was not visible on either of the preceding
day or following days.
The American Journal of Science, discusses reports by Pastorff for
the years 1834, 1836, and 1837, wherein he reports having seen
bodies crossing the sun’s disc in comparatively short spaces of
time. Definite dates are lacking, but there is a description of a
large object, and an accompanying much smaller one, changing
position relatively to each other and taking different courses, if
not orbits. In 1834 he had seen similar bodies pass across the disc
of the sun – looking very much like Mercury in transit – six times.
Now, there is another statement of rugged individualism in
celestial, controlled motion. How
confusing this must have seemed how frustrating to an inhibited
observer who could think only in
terms of intra-Mercurial planets. There was not one, but two or more
bodies, of size comparable to
moving across the sun repeatedly with what seemed to be directed
movement. But how simple it all is to us, when we are thinking of
objects from one to ten miles in diameter only a few hundred miles
away, or ten to two hundred miles in diameter and 150,000 miles
distant, attendant on the earth-moon system, navigable, and possibly
using the gravitational neutral as a habitat.
There is another observation by Steinheibel at Vienna, April 27,
1820, reported in the Monthly Notices, in 1862.
A very small perfectly round spot, without a trace of penumbra, was
seen to cross a considerable portion of the sun’s disc in the short
space of six hours as observed and reported, July 12, 1837, by De
Vico at Rome.
At a distance comparable to that of the gravitational neutral, an
object would cover half a degree
in six hours with a speed of about 300-325 miles per hour. At the
distance of an intra-Mercurial planet the
speed would be in the order of 100,000 to 135,000 miles per hour,
which is about 30-35 miles per second - a little bit high for planetary velocity, but not inconceivable.
In October 2, 1839, De Cuppis, an astronomical pupil at a College in
Rome, saw a perfectly clear, round and definite spot moving at such
a rate that it would cross the sun in about six hours.
In late June or early July 1847, Scott and Wray saw a spot like
Mercury in transit. On October 11, 1847, Schmidt, at Bonn, saw a
small black body pass rapidly over the sun, “which was neither bird
nor insect crossing before the telescope.” We do not know what he
means by rapidly – six hours, six minutes, or six seconds. All those
would be rapid depending on where you think the object was in space.
If it was, say, half an hour, and the body was intra-Mercurial, its
speed would be 650,000 to 800,000 miles per hour, or 200 miles per
second, which is nebular velocity, not planetary. If only two or
three seconds were involved, which is a reasonable assumption since
Schmidt compared the object to a seed or a bird, then, whatever it
was, it was not more than a few hundred miles from the
earth—certainly not farther than the “neutral.” We assume that this
was Julius Schmidt who became director of the observatory at Athens.
He saw a similar object on October 14, 1849, and there is still
another sighting by him on February 18, 1850.
On March 12, 1849, Lowe and Sidebotham watched for half an hour a
small round black spot traversing the sun.
On June 11, 1855, Ritter and Schmidt, near Naples, watched, just
before sunset and with the naked eye, a black body crossing the
sun’s disc. That the color, here, is always black is of not concern.
That is the only color silhouettes against the sun could have,
unless they had intrinsic brilliance per unit of apparent area much
in excess of that of the sun itself.
On September 12, 1857, at Wandsbeck, Ohrt saw a remarkable round
spot near the north border or edge of the sun, at 1:00 PM, It had
disappeared when the sun was next seen on the 14th. This thing was a
little bit smaller in appearance than Mercury.
On August 1, 1858, a circular, opaque body moving from east to west
was watched for about one and a half hours in late afternoon by
Wilson at Manchester, England.
In 1859, Dr. Lescarbault, an amateur astronomer of Oregeres, France,
announced that he had observed the passage of a body of planetary
size across the sun on March 26. Dr. Lescarbault wrote to Le Verrier,
knowing of Le Verrier’s interest in intra-Mercurial planets. The
cloak and dagger investigation and third degree imposed on the good
doctor by Le Verrier is quite an incident.
Le Verrier was convinced that this was a transit of “Vulcan,” and
predicted another transit for March 22, 1877. At that time
astronomers of the whole civilized world were alerted, and an
intense and eager watch was kept on that date, in order to confirm
the existence of “Vulcan,” and to verify Le Verrier’s orbital
Nobody saw anything on March 22, 1877; and the whole idea of an
intra-Mercurial planet has been pretty much broken down…but: what
was it that these many good people really did see? Were these
reputable astronomers deluded, mendacious or irresponsible? They
were all highly intelligent people, educated and trained in the
fields of astronomy and mathematics. Either you must say yes to one
or more to the above charges, or these alert observers saw something
round and solid—and it wasn’t an intra-Mercurial planet.
Note how uniform the reports are as to the apparent size of these
things: usually about the apparent size of Mercury; sometimes a bit
larger, occasionally somewhat smaller. That implies either that the
distances are usually about the same, or that these objects vary
greatly in size. It seems a little more likely that both sizes and
distances vary, but as or now this is debatable.
We do have Pastorff’s observation, and a few others, of large and small bodies
seen simultaneously. It is our considered opinion that most of these
things reported by astronomers as seen crossing the sun are of about
the same size, and that they maintain a distance of about 150,000 to
175,000 miles from the earth for a considerable portion of the time.
On March 20, 1862, a sharply defined round spot was watched in its
progress across the sun for about twenty minutes by Lummis, of
Manchester, and a friend. It was about one-half the apparent
diameter of Mercury.
On February 12, 1864, a spot 8” seconds of arc in diameter crossed
the sun at a rate between
that of Mercury and Venus. On May 6, 1865, a round black spot moving
across the sun was watched by
Coumbray, at Constantinople. It was watched for over three-quarters
of an hour, until its departure from the disc.
This spot was a
sharply defined, black point, which detached itself from a group of
sunspots near the limb of the sun and crossed the entire disc in
forty-eight minutes. In an intra-Mercurial orbit having one-third
the radius of the earth’s orbit, it would require a speed of
approximately 6,000 miles per minute, or a hundred miles per second
to accomplish this, and this is a very high planetary velocity. At
the earth-sun neutral, however, an object would move the same
angular distance in the same time, with a speed of about thirty-five
miles per hour, a conservative velocity even for a UFO.
There are seven reported sightings, in 1886, of a large body being
seen near Venus. These are not transits of the sun, it is true; but
the objects are in general direction of the sun – and the
gravitational neutral—and there is always the possibility that some
bodies are floating at the Venus-Sun neutral, as well as close to
In 1645, a body large enough to look like a satellite was seen near
Venus. It was said to have been seen four times in the first half of
the 18th century and again in 1867.
A luminous spot was seen in 1799, by Harding and Schroedter, moving
over the disc of Mercury.
This indeed, could not have been a intra-Mercurial planet.
There were two observations by Denning and Hind, persistent
observers, on November 3, 1871, and March 26, 1873, and a black body
was seen by Weber, at Berlin, April 4, 1876.
The London Times, for December 17, 1883, reports that Mr. Hicks
Pashaw, in Egypt, saw through glasses, “an immense black spot upon
the lower part of the sun.”
According to Science, July 31, 1896, Brooks, of Smith Observatory,
saw a round object pass slowly across the moon; he thought it was a
dark meteor. It was about one-thirtieth the moon’s diameter, and
crossed in three or four seconds.
According to the Scientific
American, astronomer Muller saw a similar phenomenon on April 4,
1892. Now there are some objects which were actually seen to be
closer than the moon. If Brooks’ object was close to the moon, and
traversed the disc in four seconds, it was moving at better than
five hundred miles per second, and that is nebular velocity, neither
planetary nor stellar, meteoric nor cometary velocity.
So we adjudge
it to have been closer to the earth. At the neutral it would still
have to be moving at several hundred miles per second. At two
hundred and fifty miles above the earth it would only have to be
moving half a mile a second, If the thing was hovering, on the other
hand, it would cross the moon’s disc in two minutes – so it could
not have been hovering.
All this account of objects of planetary aspect crossing the discs
of the sun and moon is preamble to the hassle of Watson and Swift
vs. the “profession,” subsequent to the total solar eclipse of July
There can be little doubt but that these objects existed, and that
they existed in space; that they are quite commonly seen between the
earth and t moon, and at least once between the earth and Mercury;
that they appear as discs or spheres, spindles or dumbbells.
Back to Contents
We have already mentioned Swift and Watson, and the objects which
they saw. We are now going to present the details of how the
observations were made and of the controversy arising with those
astronomers who were not there and who did not see the object. We
expect to show how these observations not only establish the
actuality of UFO’s in space, but demonstrate their approximate
distance as well.
James C. Watson, one-time director of the Astronomical Observatory
of the University of Michigan, wrote one of the most widely used
text and reference books on mathematical astronomy. He had one of
the best minds in astronomy and was an expert observer. Dr. Watson
was at the peak of his career on July 29, 1878 the time of the total
Lewis Swift was the director of Warner Observatory, and a skilled
searcher for new bodies like planets and comets.
Neither of these men can be called irresponsible. They knew the
difference between stars, planets, comets and nebulae. They did not
see ghosts. However, at the total eclipse of the Sun, July 29, 1878,
they saw unscheduled, unexplained objects. Like many of their
contemporary scientists, however, they were too preoccupied with
intra-Mercurial planets to speculate on anything close to the earth.
Astronomers came long distances to observe this eclipse. Many
Europeans traveled across the Atlantic, then to the high plateaus of
Colorado and Wyoming. Many were determined to make a final desperate
search for an intra-Mercurial planet which, supposedly quite near
the sun, should have shown up at the time of total eclipse. Both
Watson and Swift arranged special equipment for this search, and
both brought special skills to the task.
Watson was first to announce his findings. Through skillful use of a
four-and-one-half-inch telescope (which this writer has used many
times at the University of Michigan), Watson found two disclike or
planetary objects, both red and both comparable in size to Mercury,
perhaps a bit smaller. One was 2 ½° from the sun and the other
between 4° and 5°. Both were to the west. Watson measured their
positions carefully. He reported them as intra-Mercurial planets.
Swift saw two discoid objects also, of about the same size,
brightness and color. He reported them as intra-Mercurial planets.
But Swift saw them in different places. Whereas Watson’s two were
several degrees apart, Swift’s were very close together. The members
of the astronomical fraternity, who were not there, and observed
nothing, were scathingly sarcastic. They maintained that Swift and
Watson saw nothing but some stars which they had failed to identify
accurately. But these men had memorized the star-fields and had made
careful measurements. To have made mistakes of which they were
accused, they would have been guilty of puerile errors.
The conflict was long and hot, and towards the end it was bitter,
but the observers stood their ground. They insisted that they saw
something, and since not one person in the profession could conceive
of anything but an intra-Mercurial planet, no common ground was ever
found for agreement. The British professionals, and Dr. C.H.F.
Peters, in the United States, were especially vehement in their
protests. In a long and brilliant analysis, Peters proved
conclusively that these objects could not possibly be
intra-Mercurial planets, and for good measure proved that none of
the other long lists or objects seen near the sun or crossing it
could be such planets.
In fact he did a credible job of proving that
no such planet could exist! After studying his arguments, I most
whole-heartedly concur – up to a point. That point is where Dr.
Peters tries to prove that since Watson and Swift did not see
intra-Mercurial planets, what they did see were erroneously
identified stars. But he would not necessarily agree that they had
seen anything at all. Peters was bitterly sarcastic and felt rather
too secure in his superb analytical ability.
Dr. C.H.F. Peters, arch master of astronomical and mathematical
analysis, set up the best scientific case for UFO’s which has ever
been stated – unless one denies the observations, together with the
sanity and honesty of Watson and Swift and about thirty other honest
observers. I would be willing to rest the entire case for UFO’s on
Peters’ analysis, if the observations be granted as presented by
those practiced observers.
It boils down to this: Watson and Swift did see two disclike
objects. C.H.F. Peters proved that they were not planets and not
very far from the earth.
To make a long story much too short, here is what happened. First,
everybody was wrong to some degree, as often happens in bitter
controversies; and everybody was partly right. Watson and Swift did
see what they said they saw – but they were wrong in thinking that
they saw planets. Peters was eminently right in his analysis that
they could not have been planets – but he was wrong, most blindly
and unjustly, in saying that they did not see anything.
Watson saw two discs several degrees apart. Swift saw them close
together and near the locations of Watson’s first one. Watson and
Swift observed from sites about one hundred and eight-five miles
apart. Parallax caused the difference in the locations of the
objects. On the basis of the measured positions and sizes, it is
possible for us who are not blinded by inhibition and preconception,
as were Watson, Swift, and Peters, to see that these two objects
were UFO’s not far away, but far enough to be surely in space. One
was nearer than the other. The nearest one was displaced by parallax
in Swift’s observations due to the one-hundred-and-eight-five-mile
base line. It is as simple as that.
Watson’s object “a” turns out to have been between the extreme
limits of ten thousand and sixty thousand miles from the earth. The
best overall consideration places it at about twenty thousand miles
away. Watson’s “b” object, on the other hand, which was so greatly
displaced in apparent position by the
one-hundred-and-eighty—five-mile base line, was about one-tenth as
far away as “a.” If we assume “a” to be at twenty thousand miles,
then “b” was at about two thousand miles.
The nearer one seems to have been smaller. The more distant one
appears to have had a diameter of one-quarter to one and one-half
miles depending on its distance, and at twenty thousand miles would
be about half a mile or somewhat more in diameter. “B,” the nearer
one, would be about one-tenth as great. This is in keeping with our
mother ship concept.
As for the red color, which Peters doubted so bitterly, it is simply
explained when we realize that the objects were near the earth. At
such a distance, they must have been within the penumbra of the
They thus escaped direct sunlight which would have
given them crecentic illumination. However, they were illuminated by
sunlight which came first to the earth through a long thickness of
atmosphere and was reflected back from the surface. The blue light
was therefore screened out. When the light finally got back to the
objects it was red. On being returned by them to the observers, the
light passed a third time through the atmosphere and naturally it
was very red. Those who have seen the moon in eclipse will remember
how red it looks from just one passage of the light through the
At various times during the past half-century, there have been
suggestions of small satellites circling the earth, very rapidly,
and close to the surface – two hundred to six hundred miles away,
that is. The New York Times of August 23, 1954 discusses the
rediscovery of these little bodies by Dr. Lapaz of the Department of
Astronomy of the University of New Mexico. It seems that there has
been some feeling that Russia may have catapulted these into space
as observation platforms, and the Ordnance Department of the U.S.
Army became concerned about it.
While we do not deny the possibility
of such an advance by the Russians, we do feel that observations
covering hundreds of years disprove this supposed Russian origin of
UFO’s, and also establish controlled and irregular motion as opposed
to the regularity of orbital motion.
In any event, it is time that the U.S.A. took note of these entities
and made some study of them. Since they probably stay in the
gravitational neutral most of the time, they are never far out of
line with the sun, and this is why it is so difficult to see them
except at times of eclipse or when they are actually in transit
across the sun.
But there are ways to look for them: one is with telescopes and the
other is with radar. Barring more searches at eclipse time, it does
seem that radar has the better possibilities. We know that radar
blips can be bounced off the moon: why not from these objects which
are nearer? Let’s point both our radar sets and telescopes at the
region near the sun, at times of both new and full moon and see what
we can see. The objects probably range a very few degrees east and
west of the sun at first and third quarters of the moon. That would
probably be the best time to look.
Continuation of Part Four
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