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UFOs and ET Brothers “If you’ve never seen a UFO, you’re not very observant. And

UFOs and ET Brothers

“If you’ve never seen a UFO, you’re not very observant. And if you’ve seen as many as I have, you won’t believe in them.” Arthur C. Clarke

Madhuparna Bhattacharjee

“If you’ve never seen a UFO, you’re not very observant. And if you’ve seen as many as I have, you won’t be- lieve in them.” Arthur C. Clarke Just in the recent past, many of you must have followed news channels and newspapers across the world carrying news of an UFO sighted in Mexico. I watched it on TV and the entire thing seemed to be pretty inter- esting. Do most of us actually know the real story behind these objects, like what they are, where do they come from, etc etc.? According to layman’s term, an Un- identified Flying Object or a UFO is any flying object or phenomenon that cannot be identified by an observer.

The scientific study of it, called Ufol- ogy can be described as the mythology of the space age. Just as fairytales talk of fairies and angels, Ufology talks of extraterrestri- als (ET), which seems to be a much more familiar term. Can we call it the product of the creative imagination? It is not that UFO is a latest con- cept. American Kenneth Arnold had claimed a UFO sighting way back in the year 1947 on June 24, near Mount Rainier, Washington. Arnold claimed to have seen as many as nine brightly lit objects soaring across the sky at speeds he estimated up to 1200 miles per hour. He had also reported that the objects appeared to have disc or ‘sau- cer’ shaped. It is after this that the term ‘Flying Saucer’ became so popular.

UFOs became a major subject of in- terest following the development of rocketry after World War II and since then were thought by some researchers to be intelligent extraterrestrial forms of life, visiting planet Earth. Almost every civilization that has kept a written history has recorded the sighting of strange objects and lights in the skies. Today, unexplained aerial phenomena are generally referred to as unidentified flying objects or flying saucers. Descriptions of UFOs have ranged from glowing wheels to coloured balls of light to cigar-, disk-, or crescent- shaped objects. Just the other day, while surfing through various websites, I came across Ian Ridpath’s UFO page, where

websites, I came across Ian Ridpath’s UFO page, where Science Column TYPE OF UFO SIGHTING DESCRIPTION
websites, I came across Ian Ridpath’s UFO page, where Science Column TYPE OF UFO SIGHTING DESCRIPTION
websites, I came across Ian Ridpath’s UFO page, where Science Column TYPE OF UFO SIGHTING DESCRIPTION

Science Column

TYPE OF UFO SIGHTING DESCRIPTION

t

Nocturnal lights Bright

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Daylight disks

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Radar-visual

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Close encounters of the 1st kind

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Close encounters of the 2nd kind

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Close encounters of the 3rd kind

Lights seen at night

Usually oval or disc-like

Those detected by radar

Visual sightings of an unidentified object

Visual sightings plus physi- cal effects on animate and inanimate objects

Sightings of occupants in or around the UFO

can dazzle the eye, at times appearing cross-shaped. A type of rotating reflective kite called the UFO SAM has also made its own contributions to sightings. Further, small decorative hot air balloons called Sky Lanterns or UFO Balloons have joined the list of culprits, generating reports of orange-coloured ‘saucer fleets.’ If real alien spacecraft were whizzing around in orbit they would rapidly be noticed both by amateur satellite spot- ters and by defence radars. A new breed of UFO culprits is a series of satellites launched to relay signals for the Iridium mobile phone system. There are over 70 of these, launched since May 1997, and they

it was stated that, usually, a descrip- tion such as “it seemed to hover for an hour” is diagnostic of a star or planet (people get fed up watching after about an hour, or the object sets). Often there are other descriptions such as “flashing coloured lights” or “it appeared to be rotating” which is how bright stars ap- pear when they are twinkling, notably Sirius on a cold, frosty night. Binocu- lars do not always help identification if they happen to be cheap and with optical defects that produce spurious colours and shapes. An interesting thing is that many people do not realize that stars rise and set during the night. So, information such as, ‘it wasn’t there before’ or ‘it appeared to move slowly’ are still con- sistent with characteristics of stars and planets. Thin clouds can make stars appear to dim and brighten, as if they were receding or approaching. Another delicate effect, technical- ly known as the Autokinetic Effect, makes natural movements of the eye make stationary object appear to move irregularly, sometimes zooming up and down or swinging from side to side. Interestingly, planet Venus, the big- gest UFO culprit of all, popularly known as the ‘evening star’ (although it can also appear in the morning sky as the ‘morning star’), is the biggest ob- ject in the night sky after the moon. It

in the morning sky as the ‘morning star’), is the biggest ob- ject in the night

in the morning sky as the ‘morning star’), is the biggest ob- ject in the night

June 08

in the morning sky as the ‘morning star’), is the biggest ob- ject in the night
in the morning sky as the ‘morning star’), is the biggest ob- ject in the night
in the morning sky as the ‘morning star’), is the biggest ob- ject in the night