One of the most famous astronomers that claims to have seen/encountered UFO’s are the discoverer of the planet Pluto – professor Clyde Tombaugh.
In an interview with the Swedish/Russian (double citizen, now dead) astronomy-journalist of the Swedish newspaper Expressen, Eugen Semitjov, Tombaugh said in 1973 that the first sighting happened when he worked at the White Sands test ground on August 20 1949, as he was working with Werner Von Braun (not a witness) in the space-program. Tombaugh was in charge of the optical control of the rockets flying path. The sighting occured at Las Cruses. Here is the interview (translated from Eugene Semitjovs book “De otroliga tefaten” (The Incredible saucers) ISBN 91 7008 436 X, page 142-150) :
E. Semitjov’s interpretation of Tombaugh’s sighting:
“It was an encredible clear night. Even the stars of sixth magnitude was clearly visible, normaly these can scarcely be discovered with the naked eye. The time was around 10:45 PM when the running lightpoints appeared almost in zenit. They glowed faintly yellow-green and appeared to be evenly distributed geometricaly – two or three in the front, and the same after, one at the edge on each side. The whole group wasn’t bigger than ca. half the size of the full moon. The formation narrowed as it ran away, sort of shrinked in width – like a geomatrical pattern does if you first see it straight underneath and then partly underneath. At the same time the light at ca. 35 degrees over the horizon. All in all I saw the them only 3-4 seconds. There was no sound. I pointed, but my wife only managed to catch the sight for a second before it disappeared. I have never seen anything like it during all my years I have watched the sky” says Clyde Tombaugh. After this he says:
“We can’t exclude the possibility that some of the number of UFO-cases are ET-visitors. But I have a hard time to belive it before I have seen authentic proof. I have to be reserved, can’t say neither yes or no. It has been so many cranks and hoaxes in this field, and so many missjudgements – UFO’s has certailny ended up with a bad reputation…”
To the question if he has had more sightings he says:
“In the 50’s I saw two more UFO’s, if I may call it that. It was also here at Las Cruses. they were totaly different, they had no simularity with the rectangular objects. One of them I saw in broad daylight. It was like a squalling star – with intense light, brighter than Venus. It is said that UFO’s often divert, change direction in a straight angle – but I haven’t seen anything like that.”
Tombaugh avoids answers on the second object he claimed to have seen. But he continues with:
“UFO’s has been classified with ca. a dussin shapes that all, more or less, is different from eachother. They have been observed on radar and are therefor not imagination. They have also been photgraphed – and by that I don’t mean all these trickphotos. It has been suggested that it can be plasma-concentrations in the atmosphere, driven to high heights by some source of energy by nature we don’t know anyting about yet. I belive that that is a possibilty. These things can move in the lower troposphere, they can exist in the stratosphere at 15 kilometres, or in the jonosphere (right word?.ed) between 80 up til several hundred kiometres in height. We don’t know all that we would like to know about what’s going on in these parts of the atmosphere.”
Then he finnishes with:
“Who knows? It can even be alien spaceships which minor occasions visits our planet, who knows?. It is possible that the stars in our neighberhood are surrounded by planetsb that inhabitents advanced civilasations- that has reached the spaceage a long time ago. But if they would travel here is an open question…”
Here’s another short piece I have on astronomers. I guess there is loads more to find – in the Bulgarian newspaper Nedelea (19th-25th of November 1967) you can read:
“(7th April 1967, STARAZAGORA) A triangular object stayed “suspended” above the town for 45 minutes. The staff of the M. Belinksi observatory has determined path, shape, and luminous intesity”
Three files from Brian Zeiler:
Here are some astronomer, meteorologist, and physicist UFO sightings. The list is compiled in a 1964 compilation of data from NICAP, a civilian UFO group with mostly Ph.D.s on the board of directors. Very scientific, pragmatic, academic group. The compilation was called “The UFO Evidence” and was edited by Richard Hall, now with the Fund for UFO Research in Maryland. The cases were mostly reported through civilian channels and funneled to NICAP as a central repository. These may be verified by finding the book at major university library.
7/10/47 Unnamed “Top Astronomer”. Elliptical object which hovered, wobbled, ascended suddenly.
8/na/49 Clyde W. Tombaugh (ring a bell?), astronomer. Circular pattern of rectangular lights, keeping fixed interval.
Summer 1948 Carl Mitchell, physicist. Three luminescent greenish discs one second apart, passed across sky from N to S and over horizon.
5/20/50 Seymour L. Hess, meteorology and astronomy. Disc or sphere in apparent “powered” flight.
8/3/51 Walter Webb, astronomer. Bright glowing light moving in undulating path.
1952 W. Gordon Graham, astronomer. UFO “like a smoke ring, elliptical in shape, and having two bright pinpoints of light along its main axis”, saild overhead from west to east.
8/5/52 James Bartlett, astronomer. During daylight observation of Venus saw a flight of two disks diameter about 30 minutes of arc; passed overhead to S, turned E. Then two more disks with dome-like protrusions in center.
6/11/54 H. Percy Wilkins, astronomer. Two silvery objects “like polished metal plates” moving against wind; third grayish oval arced across sky.
11/25/54 Marcos Guerci, meteorologist. Two luminous objects observed from airport; one apparently semi-circular, other circular.
12/7/54 R. H. Kleyweg, meteorologist. Hemispherical disk tracked through theodolite.
11/1/55 Frank Halstead, astronomer. Cigar-shaped object followed by domed disk.
6/18/57 Henry Carlock, physicist. Observing sky with telescope; twice glimpsed UFO with halo around it and “what appeared to be three portholes”.
11/10/57 Jacques Chapuis, astronomer. At Toulouse Observatory observed maneuvering yellow star-like object for 5 minutes. “It was something I had never seen before.” UFO finally ascended straight up out of sight.
5/22/60, Observatory Staff (Majorca astronomer (?)). Triangular UFO about 1/4 apparent size of moon sighted at 9:33 am, spinning on its axis while on steady course. Report cabled to NASA in Washington. [Note: Familiar triangular shape and axial rotation maneuvers that persist in contemporary reports. Daytime sighting by astronomers at observatory. Highly credible.]
3/16/61 R. J. Villela, meteorologist in Antarctica. Fireball-like object in low-level flight.
5/20/62 C. A. Maney, physicist with six others. Maneuvering light, turned sharply, made sudden changes in speed.
And that’s only though 1964, so this should annihilate the debunkery myth that astronomers and scientists don’t see UFOs. Also consider that those who do probably don’t report them as often as non-scientists because of ridicule fear.
Here are some more astronomer UFO reports, which are of far more than just unidentified, distant lights in the sky:
JAMES BARTLETT, JR.
8/5/52 – Baltimore, Maryland [right after various radar/visual sightings in nearby Washington, D.C. and Virginia during July, 1952]. While doing daylight observations of Venus, saw two disc-shaped objects pass south of Baltimore, then turn east. Soon afterwards, two more discs appeared overhead, with domelike raised centers. Bartlett, previously a skeptic, stated, “UFOs do exist. They are some type of mechanism, controlled craft, origin unknown.”
Sept, 1953 – Baltimore, Maryland. Dramatic nighttime UFO observation by Bartlett, who first spotted four large lights by eye. Through binoculars he observed the lights came from the noses of two enormous cylindrical or cigar-shaped craft. He observed a cabin in the nose and ports on the sides of the hulls in each craft.
9/6/54 – Baltimore, Maryland. Bartlett saw four glowing objects in line formation. When an airliner approached, they changed formation and climbed, then reformed in line. He stated, “It was a precise and highly controlled performance.”
H. PERCY WILKINS
6/11/54 – Charleston West Virginia/Atlanta Georgia – 10:45 AM. While flying, English astronomer Wilkins [head of the British Selenological Society] saw 2 radiant, polished metal disks, like “dinner plates”, soon joined by a third. Wilkins, one of the world’s leading moon experts, also confirmed seeing what appeared to be a giant artificial bridge or roadway on the moon in the same spot first reported by John O’Neill. The next month the structure was gone.
FRANK HALSTEAD (DIRECTOR OF THE DARLING OBSERVATORY, DULUTH, MINNESOTA)
11/1/55 – Mojave Desert, California. On a train, Halstead and his wife observed for 8 minutes a cigar-shaped UFO about 800 feet long pacing the train above a ridge. Then joined by a smaller disc, perhaps 100 feet in diameter, with a small dome on top. Both objects were very shiny. After 2 or 3 minutes, both rose straight up in the air and disappeared in 15-20 seconds. In June, 1957, Halstead stated, “…Many professional astronomers are convinced that saucers are interplanetary machines… I think they come from another solar system, but they may be using Mars as a base.” In 1959, Halstead stated that he, assistant Raymond Matsuhara, and 16 others observed a straight black line on the floor of the crater Piccolomini on 7/6/54. This was also observed from nearby Tulane Observatory and by amateur astronomer Frank Manning in New Orleans the same night. The line was gone a few days later.
J. ALLEN HYNEK (AIR FORCE BLUE BOOK CONSULTANT)
Unspecified date and place – Hynek saw and took 2 photos of a nearby disc-shaped object with a “dome” outside his airplane window at 30,000′. The photos are reproduced in “The UFO experience,” 1972, and “The Edge of Reality,” 1975. Hynek pointed out he had to reach under his seat and find his camera before taking the pictures. With the jet moving at 600 mph, the object would have followed the plane for several miles between being first sighted and when the photos were taken, eliminating most conventional explanations.
BENITO REYNO, DIRECTOR OF ADHARA OBSERVATORY, ARGENTINA
11/14/64 – San Miguel, Buenos Aires. 8:35-9:05 PM. Astronomers reported that an elongated, flattened reddish object criss-crossed the sky three times in an E-W, W-E direction. The astronomers noted it couldn’t be a satellite because of the reversals of direction and the fact that it took only 4 minutes to cross the sky instead of 18, like a normal satellite. Photos were taken by director Reyna. Also described as three separate UFOs following a route perpendicular to the orbit of Echo II balloon satellite and on the plane of the orbit.
MONTE IZANE ASTROPHYSICS OBSERVATORY, CANARY ISLANDS.
6/22/76. A huge orb of yellow light with a blue tinge seen by astronomers at the Observatory. Also seen by numerous other witnesses, including the crew of a Spanish naval corvette. It was seen to rise and then drop a curtain of light towards the ground, illuminating the sea and shore. The light appeared to corkscrew upwards from this halo and move across the island. The mass of light left by the object remained in the sky for 40 minutes. A color photo was taken by another witness and eventually released by the Spanish Air Force. [Reprinted in “UFOs and How to See Them,” by Jenny Randles] The Canary Islands A.F. commander, Gen. Carlos Cavero stated, “I have for some time held the view that the UFOs are extraterrestrial craft [but] it is as difficult for official quarters to admit that something exists as it is for the church to affirm that this or that is a miracle.”
Before you so casually dismiss these UFO sightings as unidentified satellites and airplanes, you should at least bother to read the reports first.
One of the great debunker urban myths is that astronomers never see UFOs. But this is simply not true. Tombaugh was just one example. Dr. Lincoln LaPaz had at least two (saucer, green fireball) and also secretly investigated saucer and green fireball reports for the Air Force in New Mexico. Even debunker Donald Menzel had a green fireball sighting.
Prof. Walter Webb had a sighting in 1951. James Bartlett Jr., previously a big skeptic, had four sightings in 1952 (4 discs), 1953 (4 lights emerging from cigar-shaped craft), 1954 (four glowing objects flying in formation), and 1957.
Frank Halstead had a spectacular sighting in 1955, when he and his wife observed a large, 800-foot cigar-shaped UFO pacing their train, then joined by a 100-foot disc, both then rising straight up and disappearing. In 1954 British astronomer H. Percy Wilkins saw three 3 radiant, polished metal discs, “like dinner plates” from his airplane window while flying over the states. And Blue Book consultant J. Alan Hynek snapped two photos of something saucer-like from his airplane window.
Australian astronomer Drs. Bart Brok and A. R. Hogg described a bright light moving erratically across the sky in 1957 which they determined was at least several hundred miles up. A day later, French astronomer Jacques Chapais described seeing a canary-yellow object sweep across the sky twice before disappearing straight up.
There are many more examples. Perhaps the earliest, well-documented astronomer UFO sighting dates back to 1878. E.W. Maunder and other staff members at the Greenwich Royal Observatory reported “a strange celestrial visitor” in the Observatory Reports, which they described as “torpedo” or “spindle-shaped.” Years later Maunder wrote that it looked exactly like one of the new Zeppelin dirigibles (the first ones not being built until 1897 or 1898 I believe).