Correspondence from researchers
Date: Thu Apr 7 20:52:04 1988 From: RICHARD P. DELL'AQUILA (ab114) Subj: EASTLAKE UFO REPORTED BY COAST GUARD
In a reply to a recent question from Dale Wedge, Page Stevens has mentioned that an unusual UFO event occurring over Lake Erie in early March was the result of a misidentification of the planets Jupiter and Venus which appeared close to each other in the night sky.
Page mentioned that a Coast Guard report on the incident "agrees fully" with the Venus/Jupiter hypothesis. The report has been submitted to an astronomer for his expert opinion as to whether the Venus/Jupiter hypothesis adequately explains all the phenomena described in the report by the Coast Guard personnel, also reported by at least a half dozen other independent witnesses.
The sightings, which have continued unabated for the past month, have been reported by several independent witnesses, one of whom took photographs. The case is being investigated by Rick Dell'Aquila (ab114) and Dale Wedge (ae511)
The document confirms that members of the Coast Guard saw a group of strange objects cavorting on and near the icy surface of Lake Erie. A local astronomer attempted to explain the sightings as resulting from the apparent conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the night sky, coupled with "spontaneous gas emissions" caused by viewing the conjunction through the Earth's atmosphere.
The incident involves large blimp-like object, "larger than the Goodyear blimp," which released up to a half dozen triangular-shaped lights and objects, in close proximity to the Perry nuclear power plant and Eastlake coal burng plant, and multiple independent witnesses, apparent animal reactions, as well as government documents, and hence qualifies for high- priority. The case is officially classified as a Close Encounter of the Second Kind.
The Coast Guard report for the following evening suggests that the Coast Guard had misidentified the planets Jupiter and Venus. I ask the astronomers on this board, skeptical or otherwise, for their opinions as to the adequacy of the Venus/ Jupiter hypothesis in light of this report. Page, I ask you whether the foregoing report "fully agrees" with the Venus/Jupiter hypothesis, and also whether you believe that these Coast Guard personnel, experts in their own way and no doubt familiar with the night sky and celestial navigation, could have so grossly misidentified the planets for several hours.
Date: Mon Apr 11 21:47:08 1988 From: RICHARD P. DELL'AQUILA (ab114) Subj: TO THE ASTRONOMERS RE: EASTLAKE UFO
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PROFESSIONAL SKEPTICS, RE: UFO SIGHTING OVER LAKE ERIE OVER THE WEEKEND OF MARCH 4, 1988
It is understandable that a professional in any occupation will have a reputation to preserve among is or her peers, and that the desire to maintain that professional reputation will sometimes require the professional to defend indefensable positions (e.g. "C.Y.A.") from which he cannot otherwise extricate himself. It's okay guys, I understand. You out the Venus/Jupiter hypothesis before the Coast Guard report was released and now you are stuck with it for better or worse.
I suspect that, being the professionals you are, and given the natural curiosity which is the sine quo non of the true scientist, your real opinions are very different than those you publicly express. Anyway, for the rest of us who remain willing to fairly examine ALL the reported phenomena and express our true opinions, it is now apparent that the professional skeptics on this SIG have so commmitted themselves to their position that the Eastlake UFO sighting of March 1988 was a misidentification of the planets, that it is almost laughable to expect any thinking individual, who has read the Coast Guard report of the sighting, to accept the Venus/Jupiter hypothesis.
Frankly, a more honest response would have been a simple, "I don't know what the Coast Guard saw that night for 3-4 hours, it could have been Venus/Jupiter."
But at least you had the fortitude to respond.
It is important that the subject of UFOs be discussed openly without emotionalism or hysterics. After all, we are free to disagree, hopefully in a civil manner. I suppose yours is at least a more straightforward approach than that taken by the sysop of another Freenet SIG who, after inviting UFO discussion, has elected to erase all UFO uploads from his SIG and who, when all else fails, resorts to name-calling as a torical device.
Well, taking your toys home when you lose the game is a rather immature way to deal with confrontation. Doctor, take an example from the skeptics on this SIG, bravely sticking to their guns--going down with their ship, flags waving--but proudly, stubbornly, sticking to their guns to the bitter end. "Solution: Venus/Jupiter" period. Guys: You are the experts. People look to you for answers. If you teach, your students rely on you for accuracy. When you publish, other experts rely on your objectivity and clarity of analysis. Yet you ask us to accept the Venus/Jupiter hypothesis primarily because you have put it forward as the "truth."
Now that the professional skeptics have made their final pronouncement, I trust you will permit me to raise a few minor details, tie up some loose ends and send along you ways to comfortably bury our heads back in the sand again until the next time the planets start releasing strobing multi-colored triagular UFOs 20 feet over the surface of Lake Erie that cross distances of several miles in a few seconds, cast spotlights, and scare the wits out of U.S. military personnel for several hours.
At least when the next UFO comes along, the handy-dandy Venus/Jupiter explanation (or something similar) will be ready to go. By the way, what an insult to the Coast Guard. Apparently, according to the skeptical "experts", their men are not capable of distinguishing the planets in the night sky--even after several hours of observation. Fair enough, but don't expect any Christmas cards from the Coast Guard, guys! (No loss--they probably can't write either.)
At any rate, at least you haven't run away and hid when things got a little rough. You proud graduates of the Phil Klass School of Skeptical Technique have recognized that the first requirement of a skeptic is to remain skeptical: to sift through the evidence, only emphasizing those facts that can be made to support your hypothesis and ignoring the "meaningless residue" for purposes of clarity. However, the a priori assumption with which you approach this particular subject (i.e. "UFOs do not represent any phenomena which cannot be explained in prosaic terms.") renders your resulting opinions on the matter largely irrelevant.
Although your credentials as Skeptics remain firmly intact, be honest enough to admit you cannot adequately explain ALL aspects of the sighting. Don't push sophistry.
I respectfully suggest that the Venus/Jupiter hypothesis is a professional embarassment to you, since it completely ignores the observed phenomena and fails to explain how the Coast Guard personnel could have been so grossly fooled by known celestial objects.
Guys, it's okay to admit you just "don't know" what was over Lake Ee that night. That diploma over your desk doesn't make you a vending machine--you don't have to dispense a Pepsi every time someone drops in their change and pulls your handle.
Date: Sun Apr 10 13:44:26 1988 From: NICK SANDULEAK (aa346) Subj: "THE EASTLAKE UFO"
During he first week of last month the very bright planets Venus and Jupiter were positioned very close together in the western sky for several hours after sunset.As has happened many times in the past,this resulted in many people calling the newspapers,TV stations,the astronomy dept. at CWRU,etc. to report these objects as UFOs. In an April 7 listing on this bulletin board,Rick Dell'Aquila gives the text of a U.S.Coast Guard report (dated March 4) which he suggests can not be explained as resulting from a misidentification of these planets.Although it contains an account of multi-colored, noctural lights cavoring about and landing on the Lake Erie ice, this report is devoid of the most important observational details which one expects from highly trained observers.What was their exact location at the time of these observations? Given that location,what were the approximate azimuth and altitude of these lights? Since the shoreline at Fairport Harbor runs almost NE-SW, saying that the lights are out over the lake means that they could lie anywhere from SE to NW as seen from near the lakeshore. Given this lack of detail, it is rather suggestive that the CG people observed the bright light to "land" on the ice at about the same time that Venus set i.e. went below the horizon that evening. Nowhere in the report do the CG people say that they saw the UFOs in addition to Venus and Jupiter i.e. if this display took place low in the westen sky,one might expect them to have compared the brightness and positions of the UFOs relative to these planets. It is therefore most likely that they were indeed observing these planets only. Because Venus was very low in the sky, the multi-color effects reported could result from atmospheric scintillation.The PD reporter apparently misunderstood this phenomenon and used the phrase "spontaneous gaseous emissions which of course is non-sense. It is my understanding that a UFO sighting can only be assigned to the CE II category if it leaves behind some form of physical evidence,e.g. a burned patch of grass,etc. I suppose this report is being given CE II status because of the reported sound of the lake ice cracking under the weight of the landed UFO. A more likely explanation for that aspect of this event is the arrival of spring.
SKY-GAZERS MISTAKE PLANETS FOR UFOS
* The News-Herald
* Monday, March 7, 1988
* Visitors from another planet have nothing to
* do with the UFOs which were reported along
* the lake shore Friday and Saturday nights.
* But, according to the Coast Guard, the
* planets Jupiter and Venus are involved. When the US Coast Guard at Fairport Harbor received reports Friday night of UFOs in the sky,it checked with area airports to learn what their radar indicated.
"We thought it might be someone in trouble setting off flares," said Petty Officer John Knaub."So we investigated ourselves."
Coast Guard members saw the lights over the lake about 1/4 mile east of the mouth of the Chagrin River. "But Lost Nation Airport advised us that we were seeing the planets Jupiter and Venus, which are lined up together in the sky. Apparently the gases in the atmosphere created the appearance of smaller objects around them."
The UFO reports rolled in again Saturday night, when the sky remained clear and was dominated by a full moon.
Knaub said the phenomena is visible around 9PM, as skygazers look west along the lake from Fairport Harbor.