Date: 10 May 94 00:03:07 GMT Robert Sheaffer (email@example.com) April, 1994 President C
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (JamesOberg)
Date: 10 May 94 00:03:07 GMT
Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
Robert Sheaffer (email@example.com)
President Carter's "UFO" Is Identified as the Planet Venus
by Robert Sheaffer
(published in _The Humanist_ magazine, July-August, 1977, p.46)
President Jimmy Carter's widely-reported "UFO sighting," which he
made public while Governor of Georgia, was in fact a misidentification of
the planet Venus. Several errors of identification within Mr. Carter's
report demonstrate that the eyewitness testimony of even a future
president of the United States cannot be taken at face value when
investigating UFO sightings.
The incident occurred in Leary, Georgia, about forty miles from
Plains, on the evening of January 6, 1969. Mr. Carter was the local
district governor of the Lion's Club, and had come to Leary to boost
the local chapter. While standing outdoors at approximately 7:15 pm,
waiting for the Lion's Club meeting to begin, Mr. Carter reported
seeing a single "self-luminous" object, "as bright as the moon,"
which reportedly approached and then receded several times. Mr. Carter
reports that his "UFO" was in the western sky, at about 30 degrees
elevation. This almost perfectly matches the known position of Venus,
which was in the west-southwest at an altitude of 25 degrees. Weather
records show that the sky was clear at the time of the sighting.
No other object generates as many UFO reports as the planet Venus.
Venus is _not_ as bright as the moon, nor does it actually _approach_
the viewer, or change size and brightness, but descriptions like
these are typical of misidentifications of a bright planet. Every
time Venus reaches its maximum brilliance in the evening sky,
hundreds of "UFO sightings" of this type are made. At the time of
the Carter UFO sighting, Venus was a brilliant evening star, nearly
one hundred times brighter than a first-magnitude star.
Mr. Carter is in good company in misidentifying Venus as a UFO. Many
highly trained and responsible persons, including airplane pilots,
scientists, policemen, and military personnel, have made the same
mistake. During World War II, U.S. aircraft tried to shoot down
Venus on numerous occasions, believing it to be an enemy aircraft.
In October of 1973, Ohio Governor John Gilligan made headlines by
reportedly sighting a UFO. Governor Gilligan's "UFO" turned out to
be a misidentification of the planet Mars.
My investigation revealed that many of the details published
concerning this incident were widely misreported. These errors
significantly hindered the investigation. The location of the
sighting has been widely misreported as Thomaston, Georgia, and
the year as 1973. In his handwritten UFO sighting report, mailed
to the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma City, Mr. Carter
incorrectly recalled the date as sometime in October 1969.
However, official records from the Lion's Club International
headquarters in Oakbrook, Illinois, give the date of Carter's
Leary Lion's Club speech as January 6 of that year. Attempts to
determine the date by interviewing numerous Leary residents had
been unsuccessful. Mr. Carter made no mention of any "UFO sighting"
in his report filed with the Lion's Club.
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