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National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 5/17/1988 19:45 (Entered as : 05/17/1988 19:45)
Reported: 3/31/2004 9:01:33 PM 21:01
Posted: 4/9/2004
Location: Chicago, IL
Shape: Chevron
Duration:15 minutes
V shaped tubular object .

I have been involved with amatuer astronomy for 40 years, and am a member of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers. Having observed the sky for that length of time, I am fully aware of those objects and natural phenomenon that are often misreported as UFOs by observers who are unfamiliar with the sky...ie objects such as Venus, Iridium flares, sundogs, balloons, meteors etc.

On several occasions over those 40 years I have observed objects in the sky that I could not identify. A few years back, while observing the First Quarter moon in a 90mm refractor, I noticed a tiny object subtending about 5 arc sec transit the moon from E to W in about 30 seconds. The object was dark and well defined as oval shaped. As the object moved it was clearly seen to be changing shape slightly. My guess is that the object was probably a high altitude research balloon that was partially deflated, being pushed along by the jetstream. I mention this observation to illustrate that I am not the type of observer that is quick to label any unknown object a "UFO".

However, there is one observation that I made on May 17 of 1988 from my backyard on Chicago's NW side, that I would definately classify as a "UFO". At the time I was scanning the western sky with 10x50 binoculars, attempting to locate the planet Mercury, in preparation to an observing run using my 8 inch Newtonian. While scanning in the lower Western sky, a small dark boomerang shaped object came into the field of view of the binocs. The arms of the V were inverted toward the horizon and the object was seen to yaw slightly. I immediately thought the object was a kite that some kid a few blocks away was flying, and didn't pay any attention to it, and continued scanning for the illusive planet. After a few minutes I located the planet, and prepared to swing the telescope toward it when I noticed that the "kite" had moved to a considerably higher elevation above the western horizon, and could in fact be clearly seen to be moving without optical aid. The V shape was still clearly visable in the binoculars, but not with naked eye. At this time I became curious about what the object could be, so I and went indoors to retreive a 60mm altazimuth refractor, since the 8 inch equatorial Newtonian would be to clumsy and difficult to use for tracking a moving object. I was able to aquire the object in the field of the scope at 28x and 78x. Let me just say that it wasn't a kite or any object I have ever seen or can explain. It had a tubular cross section almost worm-like in appearance. It was an odd flat blackish color that I can only describe as ash-like. I could also percieve faint reddish linaments encircling the body like the segmented sections of a worms body. The object filled about 1/4th of the field of view of the telescope eyepiece at 78x or an actual angular size of about 8.5 minutes of arc. The object continued climbing to a higher elevation until it passed overhead in a southeastern direction. While the object was climbing in the sky it passed about 1 1/2 degrees above the planet Venus, which was hig! h in the west. I lost sight of the object in the darkening dusk sky after about 15 minutes of observation. When last seen it was still headed in a SE direction about 25 degrees from zenith. When the object was overhead it took about 2 1/2 seconds to cross the 78x field of view of the stationary telescope, or a rate of movement for the object of about 14 minutes of arc per second.

In addition to myself, my son and sister in law witnessed the object.

I am probably going out on a limb even mentioning this observation, as I realize the subject of "UFOs" leaves one open to ridicule because of the fair number of wackos that get all the attention in the media. Hence credible witnesses to unexplained phenomenon tend to keep it to themselves. According to the debunkers ,few amatuer astonomers report UFO's because they know what they are seeing. This may be true. Most UFO reports are explainable as known objects that are misidentified by inexperienced observers. By definition this is not a ufo but an identifiable object.The small number of really baffling cases are often times reported by trained observers. These are the cases that should be scientifically investigated, rather than merely lumped in with "Cosmic Nonsence" by the debunkers. Amatuer astronomers DO see UFO,s, and I know I am not alone in this.