Read Wonders in the Sky Online

Authors: Jacques Vallee

Wonders in the Sky (8 page)

Such an object does not match the pattern of a meteor. We considered the possibility that it might have been a rare form of ball lightning, but this idea is contradicted by the observation that it could “blot out the sun.”


Source: Obsequens,
, op. cit., ch. 114; Paulus Orosius,
Historiarum Adversum Paganos
, Book V.


Circa June 76 BC, China, exact location unknown
Mysterious candle star

“The fifth year of the Yüan-feng reign period, in the fourth month (12th May to 9th June, 76 BC),
a candle star appeared between K'uei and Lou
.” Astronomers have no idea what it could have been. Some suggest it was a nova, others a comet or meteor.

Chapter 26: 1292 of the same History defines the term thus: “A candle star resembles Venus. It remains stationary from sight right after its appearance. Riot is expected in cities and districts over which it shone.” A candle star was one of the 18 irregular “stars” defined in Chinese records.


History of the Han Dynasty
, ch. 26: 1307; quoted by Y. L. Huang, “The Chinese Candle Star of 76 BC,”
The Observatory
107 (1987): 213.
The History of the Han Dynasty
was part of “Astrological Treatise,” compiled by Ma Hsü around 140 AD.


76 BC, Rome, Italy: Maneuvering “torch” in the sky

A group of witnesses with Proconsul Silenus: A spark fell from a star, became as big as the moon, and went up again, which contradicts natural explanations.

The original text reads: “In the consulship of Gnaeus Octavius and Gaius Scribonius a spark was seen to fall from a star and increase in size as it approached the earth, and after becoming as large as the moon it diffused a sort of cloudy daylight, and then returning to the sky changed into a torch; this is the only record of this occurring. It was seen by the proconsul Silanus and his entourage.”


Source: Pliny the Elder,
Natural History
, trans. Harris Rackham (Harvard University Press, 1963).


48 BC, Thessaly and Syria: Fiery bombardment

Another example of a sighting where the object appears to favor one camp over another in battle: “Thunderbolts had fallen upon Pompey's camp.
A fire had appeared in the air over Caesar's camp and then fell upon his own

In other cases of ancient battles, such fiery objects turned out to be primitive incendiary missiles, so we include this case with reservations.


Source: Cassius Dio Cocceianus,
Dio's Rome: An Historical Narrative Originally Composed in Greek During the Reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus
, trans. Herbert Baldwin Foster (Troy, New York, 1905), vol. 2, 227.


24 May 12 BC, China, exact location unknown
A large hovering object, fire rain

“In the first year of the Yuen-yen period, at the 4
Moon, between 3 P.M. and 5 P.M., by clear sky and serene weather, a sound similar to thunder was heard repeatedly. A meteor (sic) appeared,
the front part the size of a vase, over 100 feet long. Its light was red-whitish. It stood far to the SE of the sun. It threw off fiery sparks on four sides, some as large as a pail, others the size of an egg. They fell like rain. This phenomenon lasted until the evening.”

This is an unexplained episode. Meteors do not linger for two hours, and do not shower the landscape with fiery rain.


Source: Edouard Biot,
Catalogue des étoiles filantes et des autres météores observés en Chine pendant 24 siècles
(Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1846), 9-10. This book provides an extremely valuable record of astronomical observations in China during much of its history.


10 February 9 BC, Kyushu, Japan: Nine evil suns


The Kumaso people were prospering, until nine “Suns” were seen in the sky, followed by great chaos.

We considered the hypothesis that the phenomenon was a sun-dog, but we found no record of a refraction effect producing nine images of the sun. This is one of numerous items for which it is difficult to locate Asian sources in translation. We mention such cases, fragmentary as they are, in the hope of encouraging future researchers to seek complete sources. This story may originate in the ancient Chinese legend of the nine suns shot down from the sky by Yao dynasty hero Yi when Earth's original ten suns were making life insufferable, in which case it should be regarded as legend rather than fact.


Brothers Magazine
(Japan) No. III, 1964. This magazine was one of the earliest publications about UFOs in Japan. Unfortunately, it did not provide a quote from an actual source.


April 34 AD, China, exact location unknown
Squadron of flying intruders

A white, round object accompanied by 10 small stars flies overhead. This could refer to a train of meteors, but the pattern is unusual if “accompanied” means that the ten small stars were flying in some sort of formation with the main object.


Source: Edouard Biot,
Catalogue des étoiles filantes et des autres météores observés en Chine pendant 24 siècles
(Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1846).


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