Categories
GeekWire

Navy ‘officially’ releases widely seen UFO videos

The Defense Department has authorized the release of three unclassified Navy videos, captured in 2004 and 2015, that purport to show unidentified flying objects — or to use the Pentagon’s preferred term, unidentified aerial phenomena.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

For UFO fans, ‘Project Blue Book’ rings all too true

“Project Blue Book” turns some of the best-known UFO tales into a TV series, starring Aidan Gillen as investigator J. Allen Hynek. (History Channel Illustration)

“Project Blue Book,” the History Channel TV series making its debut tonight, takes its inspiration from classic UFO cases of the 1940s and 1950s — but for UFO fans who gathered to watch a Seattle preview of the first episode, the show hints at the shape of things to come as well.

“You won’t believe how many productions are coming down the pike right now to basically red-pill the public,” Michael W. Hall, the founder of a Seattle-area group called UFOiTeam, said at the screening. “The truth is out there, and guess what? We’re going to have to ‘fess up to it right away.”

“Project Blue Book” fictionalizes the real-life X-files of pioneer UFO investigator J. Allen Hynek. So it was natural for.Hall — an attorney based in Edmonds, Wash., who styles himself as the “Paranormal Lawyer” — to put out the word to the more than two dozen UFOiTeam members to attend November’s movie-theater preview.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

SpaceX puts on a sonic-boom UFO show

SpaceX Falcon 9 contrail
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted out this picture of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s contrail, glowing in Southern California’s skies after sunset. “Nope, definitely not aliens,” Garcetti wrote. (@MayorOfLA via Twitter)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket executed its first on-land touchdown on the West Coast tonight after sending Argentina’s SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, putting on a show punctuated by a sonic boom for Southern California.

After a trouble-free countdown, the two-stage rocket blasted off right on time at 7:21 p.m. PT from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, leaving a post-sunset contrail glowing in the cloudless skies above.

Minutes after launch, the rocket’s second stage separated from the first-stage booster and continued rising spaceward. The booster, meanwhile, relit its engines to maneuver itself for the return trip to SpaceX’s landing zone, not far from the launch pad. The retro firings slowed the rocket down from supersonic speeds, setting off a sonic boom that could be heard in some areas (but not others).

Cheers went up from SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., as webcams showed the first stage setting itself down on Landing Zone 4. (The other landing zones are in Florida for East Coast launches.)

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Court filings link observatory shutdown to porn

Sunspot Solar Observatory
The Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope is the centerpiece of the Sunspot Solar Observatory on Sacramento Peak in New Mexico. (National Science Foundation Photo)

A federal search warrant indicates that the Sunspot Solar Observatory in New Mexico and surrounding homes were evacuated this month not because of alien visitation, but because of a child pornography investigation.

The warrant and an accompanying affidavit lays out the details of an FBI investigation that came to focus on a janitor who worked at the observatory atop Sacramento Peak, which serves as America’s national center for ground-based solar physics.

The details make for a story that has more in common with the police blotter than with the UFO tales and solar doomsday warnings that were spawned by the observatory’s previously puzzling 10-day closure.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Why was solar observatory closed? (It wasn’t aliens)

Sunspot Solar Observatory
The Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope is the centerpiece of the Sunspot Solar Observatory on Sacramento Peak in New Mexico. (National Science Foundation Photo)

After days of fighting rumors about alien visitations, the managers of the Sunspot Solar Observatory in New Mexico say they’re reopening the facility — and have shed more light on the reason for its 10-day security-related closure.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Sleuth solves Puget Sound UFO mystery

Mystery streak
A webcam picture shows a streak fising in the skies above Puget Sound. (Skunk Bay Weather Photo / Greg Johnson)

Was it an airplane? A missile? An honest-to-goodness unidentified flying object? For a couple of days, a mystery swirled around a long bright streak that was caught by a webcam pointing up from Western Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula.

Now the mystery has been solved. But it wasn’t easy.

It took a couple of days for Tyler Rogoway, a writer who specializes in the hush-hush corners of aviation, to figure out what was in the 20-second time-lapse webcam view, which was captured on Sunday by a camera pointed toward Whidbey Island.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Aliens? Even Elon Musk has fun with rocket show

Rocket contrail
The contrail left behind by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch looked like a giant fish in the skies over Southern California. (Elon Musk via Twitter)

The bloom of exhaust that blossomed in Southern California’s skies during Dec. 22’s liftoff of a Falcon 9 rocket sparked jokes and jitters — with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk joining in.

Was it an alien visitation? A North Korean rocket attack? A stunt involving Santa’s sleigh?

Folks who were following the launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base at sunset knew full well what it was: a rocket booster’s contrail, catching the last rays of sunlight high above the California coast.

But for a while there, it was a mystery to unaware residents in Los Angeles, San Diego and locales in between. Such displays, including the infamous “Norway Spiral” of 2009, often spark UFO reports.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Reports: Pentagon funded UFO investigation office

Aerial encounter
A video shows what’s said to be an encounter between a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and an unknown object. (Department of Defense via New York Times)

The U.S. Department of Defense funded a program to investigate unidentified flying objects until 2012, and the program may well be continuing with alternate funding, The New York Times reported today.

The Times says its report is based on a range of interviews with people familiar with the program — including the military intelligence official who ran it until a couple of months ago, Luis Elizondo; and the now-retired U.S. senator who helped get $22 million in funding for the program, Nevada Democrat Harry Reid.

“This was so-called ‘black money,’” Reid told the Times.

The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program is also discussed today in a report published by Politico.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Check out real X-Files from the CIA and FBI

Sheffield UFOs
A grainy photo shows what appear to be flying saucers over Sheffield, England, in 1962. (Credit: CIA)

The FBI denies having a secret collection of X-Files like the ones that Mulder and Scully are investigating in “The X-Files” TV series – but you’d expect the alien conspiracy to say that, wouldn’t you?

Whether or not the truth is out there, both the FBI and the CIA have capitalized on the X-Files buzz to rehash some of their, um, more unusual cases. The FBI’s online vault features nine cases having to do with unexplained phenomena, including flying saucer reports, cattle mutilations, ESP and the purported Majestic-12 conspiracy.

The CIA took its turn just in time for this season’s “X-Files” reboot, which continues tonight with what’s said to be the best episode to date. The spooks offered up five flying-saucer surveys from 1952 that would warm the heart of Fox Mulder, the true believer on the fictional FBI’s X-Files team. Five more files, dating from 1949 to 1952, take a skeptical view that’s in keeping with the usual attitude of Mulder’s partner, Dana Scully.

The CIA also threw in its top 10 tips for investigating unidentified flying objects.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

‘X-Files’ revival brings UFO sleuths into the light

Image: Alien visitation
Alien visitation is a big topic for “The X-Files.” (Credit: Fox)

UFOs are back in style, thanks in part to the return of “The X-Files” to television this weekend, almost 13 years after the last episode had its original airing. And while Mulder and Scully are delving into new anomalies in prime time, the folks who deal with UFO reports in real life are gearing up for renewed attention as well.

“X-Files, Y-Files, No-Files, I get calls from people who say they have evidence of alien visitation,” said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. “Either they’ve seen something, they’ve photographed something or they’re in touch with something.”

The calls generally come in at a regular rate, but Shostak does recall that there was a noticeable uptick while the original “X-Files” show was on TV.

Don Lincoln, a physicist at Fermilab who’s the author of “Alien Universe,” notes that attitudes toward UFOs tend to reflect depictions in popular culture, ranging from flying saucers and little green men to mysterious “Men in Black” and alien conspiracies. The original “X-Files” told tales of gray extraterrestrials and government coverups, and he’s curious to see whether the new series will follow the same path.

“It could well be that what the new X-Files will ultimately accomplish is to introduce a new generation to the mysteries of Area 51 and the unsettling idea of the Men in Black,” Lincoln wrote in an email. “I have said enough. They’re watching…”

One expert who won’t be watching is Peter Davenport, who’s the director of the National UFO Reporting Center, or NUFORC. He doesn’t even own a television.

“I try to avoid addressing works of fiction, because I am a scientist,” he told GeekWire from his home base in Harrington, Wash. “I collect data that is appropriate and accurate. … I find [fictional UFO tales] to be unsatisfying, seeing that I deal with the real thing, all day, every day.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.