UFO Conjectures

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Astronomers are just as crazy as UFO spotters….maybe more so

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

Noted British astronomer, John Herschel, son of the equally famous William Herschel, was lauded in his time and today:

In 1831 the honor of knighthood was conferred on him by King William IV, and two years later he again received the recognition of the Royal Society by the award of one of their medals for his memoir "On the Investigation of the Orbits of Revolving Double Stars." The award significantly commemorated his completion of his father's discovery of gravitational stellar systems by the invention of a graphical method whereby the eye could as it were see the two component stars of the binary system revolving under the prescription of the Newtonian law. [From NNBD.com]

But, as the 1952 The Mystery of Other Worlds Revealed, edited by Lloyd Mallan, has it, in an article by M. Frederic Sanchez, Ph.D. [Page 60], Sir John said he saw creatures on the Moon in 1835, using his father’s gigantic telescope (pictured below this Bettmann Archive reproduction of Sir John’s observed creatures):



What sane person would say they saw such beings, using a telescope, admittedly grand but hardly able to discern such a detailed, imagined panorama?

But more recently (1924), astronomer R. J. Trumpler drew the canals of Mars that he saw through his telescope [from Max Miller’s Flying Saucers: Fact or Fiction, 1957, Page 60]:


Astronomers are a goofy lot, as I discovered when J. Allen Hynek said, in 1966, that Frank Mannor’s flying saucer was “swamp gas.”

UFO mavens and astronomers, it seems, come from the same obtuse DNA stock.



  • Wasn't the discovery of creatures on the moon by Herschel revealed to be a newspaper hoax by a NEW YORK SUN reporter named Richard Locke, in 1835.

    Herschel was somewhere is South Africa at the time, and thus incommunicado, and was alleged to have seen all these flying unicorns, ape men etc. He did eventually deny the whole thing and a year later the hoax was finally revealed.

    By Blogger cda, at Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • Not according to the article, CDA.

    And why would Locke do such a thing to Herschel?

    That is soooo malicious....


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • Two sources for this newspaper hoax:

    1. "Hoaxes" by Curtis D. MacDougall, 1958 (Dover Books, p 229-231)
    2. "Guide to the Moon" by Patrick Moore (first edition, 1953, p 158-160).

    It remained perhaps the best scientific or journalistic hoax until the Piltdown skull expose in 1953.

    By Blogger cda, at Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • I have the Hoaxes book...will look it up.

    Isn't Moore the guy who spoofed the Adamski "saucer"?

    Thanks, Christopher. You are a fount of information.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • Allingham saucer, not Adamski.

    Moore did once interview Adamski on TV when he toured the UK and Europe. I think it was back in 1959.

    Moore also interviewed 'Allingham' four or five years earlier in a spoof radio program. However, this was cancelled by the BBC before being aired. I'd love to get a tape of that interview but assume it has long disappeared.

    The Adamski interview was on a current affairs program called 'Panorama'. It was during this tour that I attended an Adamski lecture. He later met Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and impressed her, much to the disgust of her aides.

    By Blogger cda, at Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • Moore created the Allingham saucer based on the Adamski model, right?

    Nothing really disappears. Someone always keeps something that's supposed to be thrown away.

    The problem is searching and finding the thing supposedly thrown away.

    (I just went through all the bags and boxes of books we've moved from our old office to the new office -- no, they aren't unpacked yet and it's been five months now! -- and I can't find my Hoaxes book. It's here, in a current pile,as I used it for a posting not that long ago.)

    Adamski was charming, as you know so one can understand how Juliana and others were gulled by him.

    And his tales, in the time frame, were affecting and seemed to be possibly true. (I believed them, at the time, and I'm a pretty smart guy, if I do say so myself)


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • You ought to read Planets and Perception by William Sheehan to understand the history of the canals and other anamolies. Sheehan is a wealth of information on how early astronomers thought they saw things and the reason they misperceived such things. Sky and Telescope had an article about William Pickering's egg-shaped moons that was most illuminating.

    By Blogger Tim Printy, at Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • Thanks, Tim...

    I'll check it out. (I love the mars canal scenarios; they're fascinating.)

    I have some Sky and Telescope mags; maybe the Pickering article is in one of them.)


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • On the other side of the spectrum in terms of positivism, science and transient edicts from same, one of my favorites that it was once considered absolute lunacy by all the best minds in science that any "rocks" fell from the sky and that anyone who reported them was either drunk or belonged in a asylum. Hmm..sounds oddly familiar.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • Meteorites were a bit different, in that there were plenty of specimens, either on the ground, or seen falling to earth. That they were ignored by science for so long seems strange now, but UFOs are hardly comparable as there are no hard specimens to study. And the subject is so clogged up with conspiracy theory. 200 years ago nobody ever suggested that meteorites were being kept under wraps by the authorities!

    Still, there may come a time when UFOs are recognised by science, but it seems a very long way off yet. And even if they are recognised, it does not follow that it will be as ET craft.

    By Blogger cda, at Saturday, October 13, 2012  

  • Based on your comment, I had this vision of astronomers in a mad dash to pick up rocks and some victorian warehouse filled with piles of them. Lol. I think the moral of the tale is the basis of science, or at least how I was taught it, in that everything is fundamentally theoretical, and prone to revision or being thrown out the window. Theories have a habit of becoming edicts. Meteorites being one. The list of misfired science is a long one on the other side of the balance sheet, and while physical UFO's and extraterrestrials are extremely doubtful to exist, perhaps its better to say never say never in the event one will show up in the future. The same with newspapers, which seem to confuse gossip with hard news. Its not surprising that most of the public is proverbially illiterate. As Gurdjieff would say, they "believe any old tale."

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Saturday, October 13, 2012  

  • || there may come a time when UFOs are recognised by science ||

    The icon of popular antiscience? ["I Want to Believe"] Hardly!

    As if there might one day be some "thing." As if "unidentified" might become some identity.

    The idea that real "UFOs" of some kind are the stimuli for reports has been recognised by the world since the first "airship" hoax in 1896--by the definition of "hoax" if nothing else. But over a century of repeated real-world investigations of various "UFO" scares has not produced one bit of veracious evidence for any real unknown. So the idea that there are "UFOs" of any kind is a failed hypothesis for why people make "UFO" reports and believe in the "UFO" myth. What can only be a mere idea, an abstraction, is and forever will be the "least likely" hypothesis for the "UFO" myth. To continually reassert the idea as plausible--especially conditioned with special-pleading appeals to ignorance and ad hocs--is the Popperian definition of pseudoscience.

    The Null and Psychosocial hypotheses explain how every bit of data, every report, every detail in the history of the "UFO" myth can remain unchanged, there just aren't any real "UFOs" and never were. It's all nothing but a mass media-manufactured and perpetuated collective delusion.

    The pseudoscience of ufoolery is history already; let's make popular belief in the irrational, antiscientific "UFO" delusion history as well.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, October 13, 2012  

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