Misperception of Satellite Re-Entries - Seeing is Not Necessarily Believing.

From: Ted Molczan (ssl3molcz@rogers.com)
Date: Fri Jan 10 2014 - 05:09:23 UTC

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    Over the past couple of years, I have learned from Jim Oberg about an interesting and useful difference in the way
    people perceive meteor or satellite re-entry fireballs. Through their descriptions and drawings, it is evident that
    some perceive the phenomenon more or less accurately, but others perceive a craft with lights, typically cigar or
    saucer-shaped. This is not a new discovery, and will not be news to everyone on the list, but it was new to me, and it
    has proven invaluable to my research to produce a comprehensive compilation of satellite re-entry sightings.
    Jim is interested in this difference of perception for what it may add to our knowledge about human perception and the
    reliability of eyewitness reports. He has been compiling examples of known re-entries, for which both perceptions have
    been documented in eye-witness descriptions, preferably as drawings. He has even used this knowledge to identify
    previously unknown re-entries among old UFO reports. I assisted in the identification of the new cases and plotted
    witness locations in relation to the re-entry ground track. Below are links to Jim's reports, most of them just
    released, prefaced by a few comments from me.
    Probably the earliest directly relevant study appeared in Scientific Study Of Unidentified Flying Objects, The
    University of Colorado, 1968 - commonly known as the Condon report, after principle investigator Dr. Edward U. Condon.
    Astronomer Dr. William K. Hartmann studied sightings of the decay of one of the ullage motor assemblies of the rocket
    body that launched Zond IV, witnessed over a wide area of the northeastern U.S. on 1968 Mar 04 UTC. Here is Jim's
    On 1990 Nov 05 UTC, the decay of the rocket body that launched Gorizont 21 was seen over a large part of Europe. Our
    colleague Pierre Neirinck quickly made the correlation, based on observations made by Daniel Karcher, an experienced
    satellite observer who happenned to witness the event. The following day, Pierre notified French authorities of his
    findings, documented here (top of pg.2):
    The event yielded a large number of sighting reports and drawings, with both categories of perception well represented
    in Jim's analysis:
    Less than four years later, the rocket body that launched Cosmos 2290 was observed to decay from Zimbabwe and South
    Africa, on 1994 Sep 14 UTC. Sighting reports and drawings compiled by UFO researcher Cynthia Hind document both types of
    perception. The possibility that Cosmos 2290 rocket was the cause came to light early, but the UFO community seemed
    uncertain whether to embrace that explanation. I confirmed the correlation as part of my recent historical research.
    Here is Jim's analysis:
    The ullage motor assembly of the rocket that launched Raduga 1-4 put on a fine show when it decayed over the U.S.
    Pacific Coast, on 1999 Sep 02 UTC. It was promptly and accurately identified as a re-entry, but the numerous reports of
    sightings of a structured craft caused some to doubt that explanation:
    In April 2012, Jim demonstrated the usefulness of this perceptual difference in identifying re-entries in old UFO
    reports. He relayed to me a query from British journalist Ian Ridpath, about a UFO sighting in Yukon, on 1996 Dec 12
    UTC, and asked whether the reported phenomena could have been related to a satellite launch or decay. I found an
    excellent correlation with the re-entry of the rocket body that launched Cosmos 2335. Both types of perception are
    readily apparent among the witness descriptions and drawings. Below are the reports that I and Harro Zimmer published:
    A couple months later, Jim found Russian reports of a UFO seen from Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, on 1963 Oct 30
    UTC. Some of the drawings looked like a re-entry; others like a structured craft. The historical orbital data leaves
    much to be desired, but I found it sufficient to confidently correlate the sightings with the re-entry of the rocket
    body that launched Cosmos 20. Here is Jim's compilation and analysis of the sightings:
    Here is my plot of known sighting locations and the ground track plot, which benefits from a trajectory analysis by
    Harro Zimmer, which I adjusted slightly to take advantage of a celestially referenced sighting made from Central
    Stadium, Kiev, during a soccer match:
    Impressed by Jim's successes, I decided to try my hand at spotting a re-entry in a UFO report, which led to another nice
    find: the decay of the ullage motor of the rocket that launched Molniya 1-35, witnessed from the Canary Islands and
    Morocco on 1976 Sep 19 UTC. Here is Jim's report on the sightings:
    In December 2012, I came across a UFO case witnessed from the Bahamas on 1985 Jan 11 UTC. Both kinds of perception were
    evident in reports and drawings, and at least one witness had suspected a re-entry, even sought NASA's assistance, to no
    avail. It turned out to correlate strongly in time and trajectory with the re-entry of the rocket body from the launch
    of Cosmos 1465. Recently, I found reports of sightings made at the same time from the southeast coast of Florida, with
    which this re-entry also correlates. Here is Jim's analysis:
    A couple of weeks ago, Jim struck again, spotting a recent Russian article on a Bolide widely observed from Estonia and
    Russia on 1976 Feb 11 UTC. Both kinds of perception were evident. There had been sufficient sightings to enable meteor
    analysts at the time to determine the trajectory with great precision, to which I found an excellent match by the
    re-entry of the rocket body from the launch of Cosmos 799. Here is Jim's analysis:
    These cases represent a small fraction of those likely to be found among UFO reports. I found more than 20 percent of
    the 211 re-entries in the latest draft of my compilation, by searching through old government and private UFO case
    reports. None had been correlated with a re-entry, though some had been suspected as such. Descriptions of craft with
    lights are common across the entire body of sightings. Whatever their cause(s), there does not seem to be any obvious
    correlation with geography, race or ethnicity.
    Having observed a re-entry myself, I believe I can understand the profound effect it can have on witnesses. The one I
    observed was among the small minority that could be predicted with some accuracy, so I was prepared for it and made
    scientific observations. Most witnesses are completely surprised. Emotional reactions vary considerably. Fascination is
    common. So is fear. Some claim to become convinced of the ET hypothesis of UFO sightings. Their common refrain is that
    seeing is believing.
    But an impressive and growing body of evidence continues to bear out Dr. Hartmann, that when it comes to re-entries,
    seeing is not necessarily believing. Researchers, whether interested in UFOs or re-entries, ignore this at their peril.
    Those who pay heed and make the necessary allowances for human limitations may profit.
    Ted Molczan
    Seesat-l mailing list

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