It was without success that Blather tried to contact Ms. Myler and Mr. Ansbro — stars of last week’s issue. However, we did stumble across the news that the Irish Centre for UFO Studies is planning a talk of some sort in the Bull Island Interpretive Centre (this centre is finding out about wildfowl, not extra-terrestrials) in Clontarf, Dublin at 2pm on Sunday 26th July. Blather may or may not have someone on the scene.
Jupiter and the Moon
So, there’s no information yet — in the media or elsewhere — that the recent ICUFOS predictions were successful. As mentioned last week, it was cloudy on July 14th, making it difficult to see juxtaposition of Jupiter with the Moon, but I’m sure they made the best of it. In the days *preceding* July 14th, there were plenty of other odd phenomena in our skies, much of them seemingly blamed on an unexpected meteor shower.
On Saturday July 11th, the BBC told of ‘the Z from outer space’, a strange array of ‘Z’ or ‘2’ shaped lights which was seen for up to an hour along the west coast of Britain on Friday 10th, after 22:30. Police stations from as far south as Cornwall and north to Scotland were inundated with reports from excited witnesses claiming sightings over the Irish Sea.
Reports were also made in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the lights were seen by the coastguards there. They reckoned that it *looked* bigger than the Moon, but it was impossible to be sure without knowing the distance (a simple yet subtle fact that many people seem to forget when making reports). It drifted westwards, apparently above the clouds.
This abduction was brought to you by the letter ‘Q’
While most people saw a Z, Teesside Air Traffic control tower (near Middlesborough) reported a large letter Q. Was Steven Spielberg making a Sesame Street movie? No planes were overdue and the RAF and Jodrell Bank (radio telescope) reported nothing.
Some sense started to erupt from the confusion when an unnamed airline pilot claimed to have seen a large meteorite entering the atmosphere, while en route from France to the UK. He said that had seen it breaking up and leaving a long trail. . . and was formed into letters by the wind.
Joseph Trainor of UFO Roundup begged to differ. In Volume 3, Number 28 for July 12th 1998, he says that ‘luminous meteor trails last between five and ten seconds — twenty seconds tops. They do not persist in the sky for over an hour. Whatever this phenomenon was, it was no meteor.’
Tour de Blather
On Monday, July 13th, Blather reader (and occasional co-conspirator) Justin Mason heard witness reports on one of the RTE radio stations of many sightings in the Republic of Ireland on the night in question. One Wicklow man saw *coloured* lights to the north-west. Another Wicklovian reckoned they were laser lights over Glendalough — there is a hotel here, and as the Tour de France cycle race was passing by on Sunday 12th, it wasn’t an unreasonable theory.
Another report came from a woman in Galway who ‘spotted lights in the sky to the west of her home on Friday night, and whose son (apparently an expert in these matters) reckoned it was an exploding aeroplane. hmm, yerss’.
Blather would be inclined to draw a connection between these reports and the mysterious aerial alphabet spaghetti. Objections?
It’s worth noting that there was *another* unexpected shower a few weeks earlier, on June 27th, confirmed by several countries, including Japan, Italy and Portugal. A meteor weighing 300kg (670 pounds) landed in Turkmenistan on June 20th. We do seem to be getting *quite* a few of these unexpected showers lately and the Leonids — in November — are apparently due to cause a storm, either this year or next year, and much damage to satellites is expected. It should be interesting to see what ICUFOS predicts for November, and for this August (when the Perseid meteor shower is due).
+The Theory, but we’re still waiting for the practice+
Speaking of the ICUFOS, honorary Blatherskite and Magonian Mark ‘Rat Tamer’ Pilkington stumbled across an interesting document during the week, none other than Roy Dutton’s *Global UFO Activity — A Study of Tactical Techniques *, which claims to be ‘a prolonged study of world-wide accounts of close encounters with unidentifiable aerial artifacts led, by synthesis, to the formulation of the Astronautical Theory for UFO Close encounters’.
Impressed? Last week (as in other issues), Blather made mention of how both Mr Greer of CSETI, and the PEIR/ICUFOS were singing from the same hymn book – Dutton’s theories. Well, here it is, in all its glory. Blather will refrain from going so far as to entirely dissect it, but we would like to share our opinion of this paper. Blather reckons that it’s a load of bobbins (thanks to Gareth Fagan, for introducing me to that curious label of detraction).
The Theory (and that’s about as much as it is) claims to make it possible to *predict* UFO encounters, from calculations using data gleaned from historical UFO sightings. Dutton reckons that he’s come across a strategy of alien surveillance of the Earth, using defined ‘approach-paths’ which deliver the surveillance craft. I can only assume that the entire theory is itself built on a shaky foundation of assumption, such as the actual existence of extra-terrestrial surveillance. Still, if such theorizing keeps him off the streets and out of trouble, we shouldn’t complain.
+Things that go Bump on Friday nights+
According to Blather’s MIB (Man in Bantry, the following Friday to the ‘Mark of Zorro’ night, or rather at 01:25 the morning of Saturday, July 18th, several members of the local population (up to half a mile away from each other) of none other than *Bantry* were woken up by a strange boom or bang, along with dogs barking. The weather wasn’t thundery.
Even though Blather has been told by Shannon ATC that the Concorde does not exceed the sound barrier over Ireland, many people do claim to hear it , but even so it’s not known to shake houses — as this did — or cause dogs to bark. Does the Concorde even travel at such an hour? For more on present-day anomalous Irish aerial booms, their Cornish cousins and Concorde, see *Skies Alive* and *Baaaaah-Humbug*.
Curiously, about 10 minutes after writing the above paragraph, this Blatherskite was having some coffee and reading some of ‘The Owlman & Others’ (1997, ISBN 0 952441764) by Jon Downes, of the Centre for Fortean Zoology . Incredibly enough, I stumbled across a section by Jon on the Cornish Concorde controversies of 1976, with Air France denying responsibility for the plethora of sky-bangs heard above the west country at that time, with even poor old President-elect Jimmy Carter getting himself implicated.
+Some pictures of Blather topics+
In *Silly Season: Monsters, UFOs, etc.*, we mentioned Gougane Barra. . . here’s a rather pleasant photograph of the area (dead link). On the same site, there’s a picture of the island (dead link) which was the subject of *Weird Achill* , demonstrating the powerful scenery to be experienced there.
+Gratuitous self-publicity section+
On July 19th, Reuters saw fit to give coverage to the GUST lake monster expedition to Norway beginning on August 3rd (this writer will be aboard). CNN and other news networks published the Reuters reports.