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Garrison
2010-Nov-01, 06:47 PM
Okay to be clear I am NOT advocating that Clyde Tombaugh saw an alien spacecraft, I am simply creating this thread to continue a discussion that essentially was threadjacking the 'Eric12407's UFO thread (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/108936-Eric12407-s-UFO-thread)'.

On page 4 of that thread, post #112 manxman posted this:


well heres an eye-witness, lets have a look at what he says shall we.

Clyde Tombaugh was the American astronomer who discovered the planet Pluto.

Tombaugh was probably the most eminent astronomer to have reported seeing unidentified flying objects and to support the extraterrestrial hypothesis. On August 20, 1949, Tombaugh saw several UFOs near Las Cruces, New Mexico. He described them as six to eight rectangular lights, stating: "I doubt that the phenomenon was any terrestrial reflection, because... nothing of the kind has ever appeared before or since... I was so unprepared for such a strange sight that I was really petrified with astonishment."[13] Another sighting by Tombaugh a year or two later while at a White Sands observatory was of an object of −6 magnitude, four times brighter than Venus at its brightest, going from the zenith to the southern horizon in about 3 seconds. The object executed the same maneuvers as in Tombaugh's first sighting

In 1956 Tombaugh had the following to say about his various sightings: "I have seen three objects in the last seven years which defied any explanation of known phenomenon, such as Venus, atmospheric optic, meteors or planes. I am a professional, highly skilled, professional astronomer. In addition I have seen three green fireballs which were unusual in behavior from normal green fireballs... I think that several reputable scientists are being unscientific in refusing to entertain the possibility of extraterrestrial origin and nature."[15]

Shortly after this in January 1957, in an Associated Press article in the Alamogordo Daily News titled "Celestial Visitors May Be Invading Earth's Atmosphere," Tombaugh was again quoted on his sightings and opinion about them. "Although our own solar system is believed to support no other life than on Earth, other stars in the galaxy may have hundreds of thousands of habitable worlds. Races on these worlds may have been able to utilize the tremendous amounts of power required to bridge the space between the stars..." Tombaugh stated that he had observed celestial phenomena which he could not explain, but has seen none personally since 1951 or 1952. "These things, which do appear to be directed, are unlike any other phenomena I ever observed. Their apparent lack of obedience to the ordinary laws of celestial motion gives credence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyde_Tombaugh



Astro*nomer Clyde Tombaugh -- who had discovered the planet Pluto in 1930 -- was numbered among those who had seen flying saucers. On the evening of August 20, 1949, he, his wife, and his mother-in-law saw a "geometrical group of faint bluish-green rectangles of light" apparently attached to a larger "structure." He said of the experience, "I have done thousands of hours of night sky watching, but never saw a sight so strange as this."

http://science.howstuffworks.com/spa...llen-hynek.htm



You wanted a credible eye-witness you got one, be lucky.

edited to add.
Actually i think i have posted this to the wrong thread, what do you think swift.

I apologize for posting the entirety but I wouldn't want to be accused of any biased editing.

There was some back and forth about this sighting, which I'm not going to cut and paste here, before manxman offered this additional information in response to a post I made:


No he explains what he and several others witnessed that night, his description was of a structured vessel emitting lights, lets be quite clear on this.
He even described the lights as portholes, theres some 50s expression for you.

He provided no citation for this claim and things were further complicated when astrographer posted this(bold mine for clarity):


Sorry I am late to this party but that is NOT what Tombaugh stated. He never stated he saw a "structured vessel" or "portholes". His description of the event in 1957 read:

"I happened to be looking at zenith, admiring the transparent sky of stars, when suddenly I spied a geometrical group of faint bluish-green rectangules of light similar to the "lubbock lights"...The group moved south-southeasterly, the individual rectangles became foreshortened, their space of formation smaller (at first about one degree across), and the intensity duller, fading from view at about 35 degrees above the horizon. Total time of visibility was about 3 seconds. I was too flabbergasted to count the numbers of rectangles of light, or to note some other features that I wondered about later...."

As I stated, there is no mention of a distinct craft or windows. These are all things that UFOlogists have interpreted from Tombaughs observations. One can easily suggest it was something else. In fact, Menzel stated this and Tombaugh eventually felt it was possible. Dr. Menzel states that Tombaugh wrote him the following about his "sighting":

A much more likely explanation is some natural optical phenomenon in our atmosphere. In my 1949 sighting the faintness of the object, together with the manner of fading in intensity as it traveled away from zenith towards the southeastern horizon is quite suggestive of a reflection from an optical boundary or surface of slight contrast in refractive index, as in an inversion layer. I have not seen anything like it before or since, and I have spent a lot of time where the night sky could be seen well. This suggests that the phenomenon involves a comparatively rare set of conditions or circumstances to produce it, but nothing like the odds of an interstellar visitation. (The world of flying saucers - Menzel and Boyd p269-70).


manxman had already been asked for a citation for his 'portholes' statement and after this post he was asked again, and this time responded that he would attempt to look for it. His most recent response as of today is:


You will also find that he said the same to hynek aswell, hynek states he was very forthrite in his opinion of what he saw, only he described it as a vessel to hynek..
And when or if i find it again i will link it.
but ive been too busy to even look yet.

So that's where we stand, anyone want to discuss the Tombaugh sighting, or has a citation for the 'portholes' statement feel free to dive in.

NEOWatcher
2010-Nov-01, 07:10 PM
Interesting you started there. That's about where I stopped reading the other (rather lengthy) thread.

A few notes I wanted to make.
Where does the second article get "Flying saucers", other than the usual media fixation to equate that with unidentified in the way they do with alien?

Second; I do see references to the word Extraterrestrial. Now; I have heard that word bantered around quite often among the astronomical types. But; when I hear it, it's in the context of a "thing" and not a "being". So; again, a word misused by others to imply alien. In fact, later on (in the wiki article), the green extraterrestrial objects he was looking for was called "natural satellites".
Notice how the press turned "extraterrestrial" into the anthropomorphised "Celestial visitors".

Vessel is also one of those words that has changed in it's common usage. I'm not sure what the common usage was in his time, so I'll leave that one open.

Someone can speak of UFO's on Earth, and believe strongly in alien life. That doesn't necessarily mean they believe the two are related. I keep thinking of Carl Sagan describing the Drake equation. He is one that firmly believes in alien life, but is freely willing to show that even distant contact is virtually nil, let alone visitation.

Garrison
2010-Nov-01, 07:23 PM
Well this is the thing in the first statement Tombaugh is simply said to have seen lights, the second article mentions that they were attached to a craft but this isn't attributed as a quote from Tombaugh, and when you throw in Tombaugh's later statement that they were probably an atmospheric phenomenon it's really hard to see how he could have gone from 'vessel', 'structure', and 'portholes' to essentially a form of mirage. Either Tombaugh gave radically different accounts at different times, in which case he makes a lousy UFO witness regardless of his other achievements; or these more provocative elements were simply added by others either to make the story juicier or because they simply read into Tombaugh's account what they wanted to be there.

gzhpcu
2010-Nov-01, 07:30 PM
For those interested, I found this article: "Cylde Tombaugh, Mars and UFOs".
http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:wb9m13ht_DYJ:www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_13_4_swords.pdf+tombaugh+ufo&hl=en&gl=ch&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESj6U9IwJYWp3DoayOGXHBq4jri6mLCM5n9eW2a4 vP_keOLsVXqOLdQltODloDIvOTwXqeLIHJJLEKi3ptuVTdv2oO a5yzMYHa3y6rKOcMsEw1cOalEtBGP6VDztgJ2_71uYV0_w&sig=AHIEtbQd70I7KnCMscgMlO6zujTq1w8TcQ

The article has a photo copy of Tombaugh's official statement regarding the sighting being discussed here. Everything is as astrophotographer quotes. Neither a "structured vehicle" nor "portholes" are mentioned.

The report goes on to say that it seems he "saw" flashes of light on Mars in the 40's and 50's, which he thought could be atomic explosions... Seems there was quite a Mars mania during this period...

eburacum45
2010-Nov-01, 10:24 PM
Perhaps it is worth noting that flashes on Jupiter have been recorded, associated with the impacts of comets. Mars is quite close to the Asteroid belt, so the occasional flash might be expected. But none have been seen since Mars has been under close observation by orbiting craft.

astrophotographer
2010-Nov-01, 11:34 PM
As far as the "flashes" on Mars go, there has been an explanation for this and it has been predicted/observed by amateur astronomers during the 2001 opposition. This appeared in sky and telescope some time ago. I don't recall the exact explanation/theory. I thought it had to do with the sun reflecting off ice or some other features on Mars.

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/292/5525/2247b

Meanwhile, I found a 1957 letter from Tombaugh to Richard Hall of NICAP in one of my books. His statement read the his wife thought she saw a faint connecting glow behind the "rectangles of light" and he stated that the rectangles were in fixed formation implying a solid structure. However, there is nothing in this where he states he was positive the saw a structured object with portholes. You can see the letter at:

http://www.nicap.org/ufoe/doc53.gif

astrophotographer
2010-Nov-02, 12:02 AM
I did look at both of Hynek's books (The Hynek UFO report and the UFO experience) and did not find any reference to Tombaugh. I read the books years ago and did not recall reading anything in them. The Hynek UFO report is not indexed and the UFO experience does not list Tombaugh. The only other time I could recall that Hynek documented Tombaugh was in the Stork status reports. He stated the following about Tombaugh's sightings:

Astronomer NN is Clyde Tombaugh, who has already been identified in the Life article. He has made two sightings, the first of which is the one reported in Life magazine and the second was reported to me. The details can be obtained by sending him a questionnaire, as he is willing to cooperate. Briefly, while at Telescope No. 3 at White Sands, he observed an object of -6 magnitude (four times brighter than the planet Venus at its brightest) traveling from the zenith to the southern horizon in about three seconds. The object executed the same maneuvers as the nighttime luminous object which was reported in Life magazine. No sound was associated With either of the sightings.

Mr. Tombaugh is in charge of optics design and rocket tracking at White Sands Proving Ground. He said that if he is requested officially, which can be done by a letter to the Commanding General, Flight Determination Laboratory, White Sands Proving Ground, Las Cruces, New Mexico, he will be able to put his telescopes at White Sands at the disposal of the Air Force.

He can have observers alerted and ready to take photographs should some object appear. I strongly recommend that this letter be sent.

Again, there is no mention of "portholes" or a "structured craft". All I can gather is that UFO proponents have interpreted all of Tombaugh's statements to imply he saw a structured craft and the "rectangles" were "windows/portholes". It takes off after that. People just repeat the statements that Tombaugh saw a structured craft with portholes and it is accepted that Tombaugh said this when, in fact, he did not.

Garrison
2010-Nov-02, 12:14 AM
So really at best it looks like some of these sources simply drew a conclusion from Tombaugh's description, which is one of the problems when all you have is one persons account of what they saw to work with, people are apt to interpret the details through the filter of their own perceptions and expectations.
Frankly it all seems to reinforce the very view that manxman originally introduced the Tombaugh sighting to refute; that you can't simply rely on eyewitness testimony in UFO cases regardless of the profession and credentials of the witness.

Don J
2010-Nov-02, 05:29 AM
In fact, later on (in the wiki article), the green extraterrestrial objects he was looking for was called "natural satellites".


The observation of 3 green fireballs by Tombaugh have nothing to do with the research to find "natural satellites" of the Earth.
He was in fact mandated by the Army Office of Ordnance Research to try to find such "satellites" artificial or natural.... the real reason for the sudden search was because two near-Earth orbiting objects had been picked up on new long-range radar in the summer of 1953,of course it is said that he finally find nothing ....
here the little story from the wiki link.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyde_Tombaugh#Near-Earth_satellite_search


Near-Earth satellite search

Tombaugh's offer may have led to his involvement in a search for near-Earth satellites, first announced in late 1953 and sponsored by the Army Office of Ordnance Research. Another public statement was made on the search in March 1954 (photo at right), emphasizing the rationale that such an orbiting object would serve as a natural space station.[19] However, according to Donald Keyhoe, later director of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), the real reason for the sudden search was because two near-Earth orbiting objects had been picked up on new long-range radar in the summer of 1953, according to his Pentagon source.
By May 1954, Keyhoe was making public statements that his sources told him the search had indeed been successful, and either one or two objects had been found.[20] However, the story did not break until August 23, 1954, when Aviation Week magazine stated that two satellites had been found only 400 and 600 miles out. They were termed "natural satellites" and implied that they had been recently captured, despite this being a virtual impossibility. The next day, the story was in many major newspapers. Dr. LaPaz was implicated in the discovery in addition to Tombaugh. LaPaz had earlier conducted secret investigations on behalf of the Air Force on the green fireballs and other unidentified aerial phenomena over New Mexico. LaPaz vehemently denied his involvement in the search, although the New York Times reported on August 29 that a source close to the project said that the story was true and LaPaz was indeed involved, in fact had been the one to spot and identify the objects as natural rather than artificial satellites. The same source denied the search had anything to do with flying saucers.[21]

However, both LaPaz and Tombaugh were to issue public denials that anything had been found. The October 1955 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine reported: "Professor Tombaugh is closemouthed about his results. He won't say whether or not any small natural satellites have been discovered. He does say, however, that newspaper reports of 18 months ago announcing the discovery of natural satellites at 400 and 600 miles out are not correct. He adds that there is no connection between the search program and the reports of so-called flying saucers."[22]

At a meteor conference in Los Angeles in 1957, Tombaugh reiterated that his four year search for "natural satellites" had been unsuccessful.[23] In 1959, Tombaugh was to issue a final report stating that nothing had been found in his search. His personal 16-inch telescope was reassembled and dedicated on September 17, 2009 at Rancho Hidalgo, New Mexico (near Animas, New Mexico, adjacent to Astronomy 's new observatory.[24]

Bold is mine

eburacum45
2010-Nov-02, 11:00 AM
Once again 1950's radar shows its 'superiority' to modern-day radar.

astrophotographer
2010-Nov-02, 01:44 PM
The observation of 3 green fireballs by Tombaugh have nothing to do with the research to find "natural satellites" of the Earth.
He was in fact mandated by the Army Office of Ordnance Research to try to find such "satellites" artificial or natural.... the real reason for the sudden search was because two near-Earth orbiting objects had been picked up on new long-range radar in the summer of 1953,of course it is said that he finally find nothing ....

This all seems to be based solely on a rumor by Donald Keyhoe, who was an ETH'er and would be more than happily turn any rumor into some sort of fact. Reading the entry, it appears everything written was based on the rumor started by Keyhoe and not based on any real facts. I guess that is why they used to call it "aviation leak" since they would tend to publish rumors they heard.

Garrison
2010-Nov-02, 10:56 PM
All anyone can say is that Clyde Tombaugh claimed to have seen some odd things in the sky, none of them even close to being described as a vessel, unless manxman is going to turn up with that citation....

slang
2010-Nov-03, 12:32 AM
Here's a fun game (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/108213-How-long-can-you-hold-your-breath) while we wait.

Normandy
2010-Nov-03, 11:44 AM
Okay to be clear I am NOT advocating that Clyde Tombaugh saw an alien spacecraft, I am simply creating this thread to continue a discussion that essentially was threadjacking the 'Eric12407's UFO thread (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/108936-Eric12407-s-UFO-thread)'.



Probably a hoax by journalist who missquoted Clyde about some other subject. After UFO wackos get their hands on the story the result was a long-living myth as in so many other cases. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Don't waste time on that one and move to more important subjects in life.

Garrison
2010-Nov-03, 06:23 PM
Probably a hoax by journalist who missquoted Clyde about some other subject. After UFO wackos get their hands on the story the result was a long-living myth as in so many other cases. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Don't waste time on that one and move to more important subjects in life.

Well you see that's the thing, in this case no one can find any article or reference to Tombaugh mentioning anything about portholes outside of manxman's claim in the other thread, so I know I'm quite keen to see if, this time, he can back up his claim.

JayUtah
2010-Nov-03, 09:06 PM
This is why manxman is eager for us to focus on the number of sightings rather than their quality. When you start looking at the particular evidence, it typically falls apart rather quickly -- often due to having been overstated by UFO enthusiasts. Hence wondering whether they're padding the numbers is not just a silly debunker trick, it's an actual valid review.

By forcing us to consider some number of sightings, the UFO enthusiasts hope we'll wrongly attribute homogenous properties to them. Then the straw-man argument arises to show how inappropriate a blanket dismissal would be. The whole point of the careful review is to investigate whether any homogeneity applies. Otherwise you have a set of disparate cases. One case, such as Tombaugh's, may end up being a misquotation. Another may be explained by astronomical events. A third may be a misperceived airplane. Trying to lump these together speculatively does no good. You have to establish that they are related, and that isn't a matter of handwaving at "millions" of sightings.

Garrison
2010-Nov-03, 09:31 PM
This is why manxman is eager for us to focus on the number of sightings rather than their quality. When you start looking at the particular evidence, it typically falls apart rather quickly -- often due to having been overstated by UFO enthusiasts. Hence wondering whether they're padding the numbers is not just a silly debunker trick, it's an actual valid review.

By forcing us to consider some number of sightings, the UFO enthusiasts hope we'll wrongly attribute homogenous properties to them. Then the straw-man argument arises to show how inappropriate a blanket dismissal would be. The whole point of the careful review is to investigate whether any homogeneity applies. Otherwise you have a set of disparate cases. One case, such as Tombaugh's, may end up being a misquotation. Another may be explained by astronomical events. A third may be a misperceived airplane. Trying to lump these together speculatively does no good. You have to establish that they are related, and that isn't a matter of handwaving at "millions" of sightings.

And bringing up the Tombaugh case was manxman's direct response to the 'quality vs quantity' argument, his attempt to present a case with a witness of impeccable credentials that couldn't simply be dismissed. Except all it consisted of was another lights in the sky anecdote and as we've seen Tombaugh eventually concluded it was an atmospheric phenomenon.

slang
2010-Nov-04, 12:24 AM
And bringing up the Tombaugh case was manxman's direct response to the 'quality vs quantity' argument, his attempt to present a case with a witness of impeccable credentials that couldn't simply be dismissed. Except all it consisted of was another lights in the sky anecdote and as we've seen Tombaugh eventually concluded it was an atmospheric phenomenon.

Which just shows that it's not about the quality of the witness, but about the quality of the witness report. Back to holding breath.

NickW
2010-Nov-04, 01:32 AM
Which just shows that it's not about the quality of the witness, but about the quality of the witness report. Back to holding breath.

I wouldn't even say that. I would say the quality of the evidence backing up the witnesses' account is more important the the quality of the witness report.

gzhpcu
2010-Nov-04, 07:54 AM
It is also an example of uncritical acceptance by those who want to believe. Seeking confirmation, they do not critically look at the evidence, but immediately see it as a confirmation of their biased view.

Jim
2010-Nov-06, 01:19 AM
This thread is basically running in place until/unless manxman - or someone else - can find a source for the portholes comment. I'm going to close it pending such a find. Report this post to have the thread reopened.