French "gendarmes" sighted UFO over Seine-Maritime

Friday, September 18, 1998


On Tuesday, September 22nd 1998, a member of CEOF (Centre d'Etude OVNI France - French center for the study of UFO) posted what follows in the newsgroup "francom.ovni":

Read in the newspaper "Aujourd'hui: Edition du parisien" (issue date: Monday, September 21st 1998)

" UFO: An UFO spotted by policemen and gendarmes. This event occurred over the Seine river estuary, between Le Havre and Honfleur (Seine-Maritime). The object which moved very slowly in the sky appeared as an illuminated disc with three spots of light. It has been seen both from Le Havre and Honfleur."

Later on, I learnt that SEPRA concluded to a misinterpretation of the phenomenon by the "cops". Indeed, what they saw was Jupiter and three of its satellites.

This conclusion was broadcast on the French radio France-Inter and confirmed by Mr. J.-J. Vélasco (SEPRA director) himself to the UFO investigator and writer Gildas Bourdais.

Here at UFOCOM, Fabrice, our science coordinator (astrophysicist - nuclear physicist) is a bit confused to have heard such a conclusion. Considering the position of the Jovian satellites on this day, it was very hard to eye-sight them without the appropriate magnifying equipment. Any amateur "stargazer" would know that! So, may be, what the policemen saw were man-made satellites revolving in conjunction with Jupiter. But if this is the truth, why did Jupiter appeared to be immobile with respect to these so-called satellites?

Well... It is surprising to notice how many people have made mistakes or have been fooled by what they saw, lately... Sometimes the mistakes were really, let's say... hmm... enormous! But we are only simple men, and nobody's perfect...

Thierry, 25th of September 98
Translated from french by Yves, Sci team, Ufocom


A few words from Fabrice, our Sci. Coord...

I checked the position of the four large Jupiter's satellites, on Friday, 18th of september, 1998, at 9 pm UT (10 pm local time).

First of all, the five bodies are aligned and the system is almost motionless over a short period of time (the few minutes of an observation).

Ganymede (the brightest!) is behind the planet and Io (2nd in brightness) is on the edge of the eye's angular resolution (about 1') from the planet, but according to the planet's luminosity, it must be in its halo. For comparison, remember that the Moon radius is about 30', it means the half width of the little finger, tight arm.

The two other ones, Europa and Callisto, are far away from the planet (3' and 6'), but there luminosity is very low, close to the human limit (5.1 and 5.5 magnitude, the maximum being about 6 with a good sight). Thus they are as bright as the weakest stars one can see when the weather is good. It would be interesting to know how the weather was at this time. Moreover, at the moment, Jupiter is very bright (magnitude -3), and its luminosity must strongly hinder the sight of the satellites.

Thus, they are really almost invisible without an instrument. An experienced observer, with a good sight and having a good weather could only see Callisto, and *maybe* Europa...

Fabrice, 2nd of october, 1998.

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