Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cold case - Canberra, Australia - 15 July 1965

Some internet UFO sources carry an item about a sighting on 15 July 1965, at Canberra, Australia. These accounts usually mention a UFO was sighted from Canberra airport for some time, before mysteriously vanishing.

I recently looked through my Disclosure Australia project material to see what I could find on this case.

Firstly, I located a copy of the RAAF's summaries of aerial sightings, and for 1965 found an entry:

"15 Jul 65 White spherical object, Canberra, ACT (Possible cause) astronomical."

Then, on file series A703, control symbol 580/1/1 part 4 folio 83, there was a one page telex, dated 16 July 1965. The sender was Headquarters Operations Command. The recipient was the Department of Air. It read:

"Restricted. AI32/CINTELLO for DAFI. UFO sighting Canberra airport 15 Jul. This headquarters has concluded that object was planet Venus. No further action will be taken."

So, the RAAF's conclusion was that the observation was of the planet Venus.

I tried to find a detailed investigation report from a civilian UFO group about the case, but turned up nothing. Some UFO newsletters did mention the event but referenced a newspaper article in The Australian dated 16 July 1965. On a visit to the South Australian State Library, I found the article.

(Source: The Australian newspaper number 313 Friday 16 July 1965, page 16.)

"While Earth was looking at Mars, somebody from out there could have been looking at us.

"An unidentified flying object was sighted over Canberra airport yesterday morning. And that put it in a position to eavesdrop Tidbinbilla.

"It was described as a metallic silvery object, hovering in the sky to the north-east at an elevation of between 20 and 30 degrees.

"Air traffic control staff in the main  control tower spotted the visitor about 11am.

"The officer-in-charge of Civil Aviation at the airport, Mr A B Lindeman saw it too.

"So did Flight-Lieutenant Weston, the RAAF base operations officer. But the first was an air-traffic controller Mr Tom Lindsey. He was scanning the sky to the north-east looking for a light aircraft due from Bankstown.

"Another controller, Mr A F Frodsham said it hung in the sky for about 40 minutes. He said it could have been a reflection from an aircraft. But there were no planes departing from Canberra at the time nor was there any record of other aircraft in the area.

"Mr Lindsey said there were definitely no civil aircraft in the area at the time. "I don't know what it was - your guess is as good as mine."

"Said Flight Lieutenant Weston "It's hard to say whether it was stationary. At one time it seemed to be approaching us but I'm not sure."

"He had never seriously thought about flying saucers before but he supposed they were possible. "There must be a reasonable explanation for it, but I wouldn't like to hazard a guess."

Mars paying a return visit perhaps."

The mention of Mars is in reference to Mariner 4's visit to the red planet. Tidbinbilla tracking station was the receiving point for the second picture to be beamed back from Mars.

My comments:

1. Based on the newspaper article the mystery object was located at about 20-30 degrees angular elevation in the north-eastern sky.

2. It was seen over a time span of 40 minutes.

3. It was reported as a "metallic silvery object."

4. It "hung" in the sky, and seemed to be stationary.

5. Could it have been the planet Venus?  Venus is sometimes visible in broad daylight. I have seen it around noon in clear skies myself. On these occasions it does look like a silver star in the sky. The question then is, where was Venus at 11am on 15 July 1965? Was it even above the horizon?

6. A check with an astronomical software program showed me that Venus was above the horizon. It was due north-east, at an angular elevation of 23 degrees. It was very bright, at magnitude -3.8.

7. So, Venus was in the specific location mentioned by all the observers in the newspaper article. Venus as the 'UFO' fits all the details given. Over a 40 minute period it would have moved roughly northwards, through an angle of some 10 degrees, which may not have been enough for ground observers to think, during a discontinuous observation (it would appear no one watched it continuously for the whole 40 minutes,) it was other than north-east at between 20-30 degrees elevation.

8. It is therefore reasonable, to suggest that this 'UFO' was in fact the planet Venus.

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