Case Directory
  Category 1, Distant Encounters 
 
  Preliminary
Rating: 5  

                                   
     

A Hynek Classification of Distant Encounter is usually an incident involving an object more than 500 feet from the witness. At night it is classified as a "nocturnal light" (NL) and during the day as a "daylight disc" (DD). The size of the object or the viewing conditions may render the object in greater detail but yet not qualify the sighting as a Close Encounter which is an object within 500'. 

Saturn-Shaped Object Viewed Through Theodolite
June 14, 1958
Pueblo, Colorado


Keith Basterfield:
June 14, 1958; Pueblo, Colorado. (BBU 5852)
At 10:46 am MST (1746 UTC) a Pueblo (latitude 38.28 deg N; longitude 104.6W) weather observer, Orville R Foster, aged 51 years, was observing a pilot balloon, through a theodolite. He noted an object enter the field of view at elevation 24.2 deg, and azimuth 67 deg (ENE.) He tracked the object across the northern sky (estimated maximum elevation 50 deg,) on in to the SW. It was lost in haze at elevation 8.1 deg; and azimuth 237.2 deg. The duration of the sighting was 4-6 minutes. The object was not visible to the naked eye. The shape of the object was described as circular, with an apparently flat ring around the object, and a rounded dome in the middle. It appeared white to silvery white in color. No metallic luster was noted. There was no noise, no smoke, no exhaust, and no vapor trail. The observer estimated that the cirrus clouds were at 30,000 feet, and that the object appeared above them. The upper air winds during the day were from the SW, the direction in which the object was travelling. The observer stated that he had seen high altitude balloons through a theodolite, and they did not look like this object. He estimated the objectís minimum speed to be 540 mph, and its diameter as 30 feet. (Basterfield, fold3; McDonald list; Berliner; Sparks.)

Robert Powell:
I agree with Keith. It seems like there a lot of guesses on actual size and speed. They may be based on good reasoning but the details are not in the BB reports. I think the speed would be greater as I think your calculation would be correct if the object was moving so that it was always at a 39K foot distance from the observer. But it would be at about 74K feet at the 24 degree elevation and 216K feet distance at the 8 degree elevation when it disappeared. Although it moved across 190 degrees of sky it was at various distances so its angular movement across the sky would not be constant. Assuming a constant speed, it would have moved the largest angular distance when at the 50 degree elevation.

Brad Sparks:
Thanks Keith, excellent analysis and writeup.  I agree with Robert that Foster must have been using some kind of averaging, and started with the initial 24 deg elevation, which would turn a 30,000+ ft altitude into a 66,800+ ft slant range hence Foster's 66,000 ft minimum figure (peak to final elevations from about 50 to 8 degs would average about 29 degs, etc.).  With Keith's calculation of transverse angular velocity of 0.53-0.79 degs/sec, this yields transverse velocity of about 610-910 ft/sec or about 420-620 mph nicely bracketing Foster's minimum estimate of 540+ mph. Foster had 28 years of experience tracking weather balloons and would know their apparent size and appearance within the field of view of theodolites and their actual sizes and distances, hence angular sizes.

Detailed reports and documents
580614Pueblo_Colorado..pdf (Keith Basterfield and Barry Greenwood)
 




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