PreUfoCat update and a new book

pietro-torre-preufocat-appendice-2021-copertinaCISU research projects have always been conceived as a continuous work of collection, cataloguing and analysis. Such is PreUfoCat, i.e. the catalog of observations of aerial phenomena over Italy in past centuries) and its editor  Pietro Torre is constantly updating it.

In 2018 the third edition of “Strange Lights in Italian History” was published: a detailed collection of 3400 unusual aerial phenomena from Ancient Rome to 1899: more than 1000 pages with complete descriptions, bibliographic sources and evaluations.

Now he released a 40-pages booklet updating the catalogue with his hew findings in the last three years, adding new case histories and correcting  or integrating some already published. It is available in both digital and paper format, as a to supplement to the latest full edition (also available in both formats on the website www.upiar.com).

Another recent book on the same subject was published by regional writer and historian Eraldo Baldini: “What they were seeing in the sky” [subtitled “Comets,’prodigies’, flying objects in the chronicles and testimonies from Antiquity at the end of the 17th century (with particular regard to the Romagna and Emilian areas”], is a collection of celestial phenomena accompanied by a rich and detailed bibliography (174 pages,“Il Ponte Vecchio” Publishing Company, Cesena).

baldini-quel-che-vedevano-in-cieloVery interesting is the author’s approach in the book introduction: “It would perhaps be superficial to always and in any case liquidate the stories of some events such as fantasies, inventions and “editorial” operations: sometimes  reports of events considered as “prodigious” may in fact contain, in addition to inevitable hyperboles, misunderstandings, political and religious purposes and commercial intentions, also elements of “truth” and , albeit flavored by the wonder of pre-scientific thought, they may represent chronicles and testimonies born from something concrete”.
Baldini also underlines how a sort of barrier seems to exist between sometimes hyper-rationalist attitudes and, on the other hand, the more exotic and imaginative interpretations we are unfortunately used to. His conclusion is therefore that “A reasoned and critical mediation has always appeared difficult, even if it is impossible to think that the supporters of the most extreme UFO theories do not have reservations and doubts about the interpretation of many passages of the old texts, and at the same time that the more prepared and “orthodox” historians do not in turn prove, in some cases, doubts, and do not ask themselves questions in front of certain descriptions. (…) It would be in our opinion necessary and constructive re-read today those accounts of ancient “prodigies”, especially the heavenly ones, with a critical but open mind, without having married ideas and matured preconceived closures, with the always precious ability to ask questions”.
Those are highly acceptable considerations, which seem reflected the same assumptions in our own  way of dealing with this topic and in Pietro Torre’s whole work.

ITALY: UFO REPORTS INCREASING IN 2020

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The year 2020 saw a slight increase in UFO sighting reports sent directly by witnesses to the Italian Center for UFO Studies (CISU), as noted by CISU director Andrea Bovo,  who is coordinating the questionnaire forms collected from the organization website
During 2020, 158 reports were collected, i.e. 13% more than the average number in previous two years (139 in 2019,  137 cases in 2018). casi2019-2018
As usual, most sightings (75%) are of Nocturnal Lights, only 6% of Daylight Discs and very few cases refer to  Close Encounters, a constant trend in recent years.
Another regular feature is the large number of sightings accompanied by photo or video recordings, mostly using of mobile phones: 28% of incoming reports.

It has to be remembered that the greatest part of UFO sightings have an explanation in conventional terms following proper investigation: observations of astronomical bodies, meteoric re-entries, aircrafts or other objects (Chinese lanterns, drones, etc.) are not recognized by witnesses due to the sighting conditions or the lack of controls (consulting celestial maps or transits of the International Space Station and artificial satellites). Reports caused by “Chinese lanterns” decreased to 1% in 2020, but sightings caused by Starlink satellite trains were as many as 25%, expecially in March, April and May.

UFO Theses at the University: an Updated Database

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For many years the Italian Center for UFO Studies (Centro Italiano Studi Ufologici, CISU) and a few foreign scholars  have been systematically updating an international catalog (and collecting a copy, whenever possible) of all the university theses about UFOs and related subjects, within the Science.Cat, a project coordinated by Paolo Toselli since 1985 in order to collect a bibliography of scientific literature (articles, books and book chapters) of potential interest for the study of UFO phenomena.

The catalog, now in its fifth edition and updated to June 2019, includes 352 dissertations (from 1948 to 2018), almost all  within ​​social sciences, except for three ones in applied sciences (engineering and medicine), one in natural sciences (astrophysics) and four in architecture. 40% of the theses come from the USA, although there were none from this geographical area in the last three years.

Statistically, the most “prolific” year was 1998 (29 dissertations, 11 of which in the USA). Years 2001 (21 theses, 11 in the USA)  and 2005 (21 again, but only 4 from the USA) are close on the heels.

As of academic degree levels, there are 67 theses for obtaining the “bachelor’s degree”, 142 theses for the “master’s degree”, and 117 dissertations for the “Ph.D.”.

Only a few students continued to research the UFO phenomenon after graduation. Among those, we can quote David Jacobs, Thomas Bullard and Mark Rodeghier from the USA, Peter Rojcewicz and Shirley McIver from Great Britain, Roberto Banchs from Argentina, Ulrich Magin from Germany, Pierre Lagrange from France, Jean-Michel Abrassart from Belgium, Ignacio Cabria and Ricardo Campo Pérez from Spain, Roberto Pinotti from Italy, Robert Bartholomew from New Zealand, Jaakko Närvä from Finland. Some of them were actually involved in ufology before their graduation.

In the last 20 years, the Italian Center for UFO Studies has provided several free general and bibliographic consultations to Italian university students working on UFO-related dissertations. UPIAR publishing Cooperative has even published some of those Italian theses as a book or monograph.

toselli2-1The whole database prepared by Paolo Toselli is now available online to the general public, while it had only circulated on selected  international blogs and mailing lists in past years.

That work is constantly updated and anyone can cooperate with new entries. The CISU is also available to provide advice to students and researchers wishing to write a dissertation on the UFO subject.

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Top picture: yearly distribution of dissertations about UFOs.

In the lower photo: Paolo Toselli, CISU

CISU on Mars (15 years before InSight)

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Millions of TV viewers in front of the TV screens and on the Internet on November 26, 2018 to watch  InSight space probe landing on  planet Mars.

As usual, conspirators claimed that it was a NASA staging, that not only we never arrived on either Mars or the Moon, but even that the red planet is inhabited, with cities, seas and forests.

cisu-vt-su-marteOnly a few, however, knew that, without much clamor, the Italian Center for UFO Studies has already landed on Mars fifteen years ago, with an expedition started in 2003.

The initiative was by CISU Viterbo Section, which decided to join a NASA offer to include your name on a microchip meant to travel in space and land on that planet within the Rover module.

In June and July 2003, the Mars Exploration Rover mission launched two twin expeditions with Spirit and Opportunity rovers on board, both arrived onto the Martian ground in January 2004. From that moment on, CISU Viterbo Section has formally set foot on the planet from which, starting from 1893, millions of people all over the world have expected (and someone still expects) to see the Martians arrive on Earth.

In the meantime, the Italian Center for UFO Studies has been and remains the first (and only) Italian UFO organization to have landed on Mars  😉

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In the top photo: the Opportunity rover.
At the center: NASA certification that “CISU sez. Viterbo” was included among the names of people and associations joining the “Send Your Name to Mars” initiative.
Below:  Viterbo section of CISU (from left: Mauro Garberoli, Angelo Ferlicca, Andrea Bovo) at work.

UFOs above Parma: a new catalog

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On time for the 33rd National UFO Conference, held by CISU in Bologna on November 10th, the second edition of Cristian Vitali‘s “UFO su Parma” was published by UPIAR Publications.

The book, subtitled “Collection of UFO Reports in Parma province from 1947 to 2017″ is the updated and enlarged version of the 2015 result of Vitali’s three years work at collecting, filing and cataloguing all UFO case histories from his province.

vitali2015Compared to the first edition, this one brings from 445 to 502 sightings in and around Parma, with 34 new cases from the 2015-2017 periods and other 23 cases from previous years but not in the old catalog. Revisions and updates of 37 events were also added, in the typical “CISU style” for which the publication does not mark a project arrival but also the starting point for further investigations, in a continuing work in progress.

In addition to detailed description of each sighting, the volume contains statistical analysis and some in-depth investigations by the author, for a total of 220 pages. It can be ordered from Upiar Store website.

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In the below photo: Cristian Vitali presenting his provincial catalogue at CISU 30th National UFO Congress (Torino, 2015)

The 1978 Wave Becomes History – 33rd CISU conference in Bologna

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The 33rd edition of the annual National UFO Congress, organized by CISU, was held in Bologna on Saturday, November 10th, 2018.

As announced, the conference them was “The 1978 Wave Becomes History – Documents, Reflections and Research 40 Years Later than that Exceptional Year”. The congress was not open to the public but a closed-shop workshop for members of the Italian Center for UFO Studies and interested scholars, so to allow free and in-depth discussion.

33marzoGian Paolo Grassino opened the proceedings with an introduction entitled “Chronicle of an Unusual, Difficult, Unique Year” which consisted of a month-by-month overview of the main events (more relevant sightings, more clamorous UFO news, ufological activities, facts or society events) in Italy during 1978.

33tosellicoverA deliberately provocative paper by Paolo Toselli followed: “1978: Italy calls UFO – mass disinformation techniques?”. By cleverly  correlating the ambiguous role of some individuals (contactees, scientists, intellectuals, officials) in different moments, it raised the tongue-in-cheek question whether the wave was at least partly planned and built, for not admitted purposes. A lively discussion ensued.

33casiritagliThird speech was Edoardo Russo‘s “1978: the Invasion?”, closely centered on the figures & data of what was then and still remains the record year in Italy (as of number of sightings, landings, encounters of the third kind, articles and news in newspapers, TV services, published books). In view of the forty-year anniversary,  the Italian Center for UFO Studies completed an extensive work of updating the case histories archive and catalog in recent months, bringing from 1,800 to over 2,300 Italian sightings collected and filed for that year alone (equal to 28% of all reports up to that time). In parallel, the complete digitalization of the newsclipping archive was completed, which for that year has got to over 2,200 articles or cuttings. In addition to some monthly and weekly statistics from those two files, the trend of their time distributions was also compared, and the uniqueness of the Italian “1978 phenomenon” as compared to the rest of the world was highlighted.

Both at the end of the speech and on the following day (before CISU members annual general meeting) several suggestions were proposed for further research on/from these data. And that was precisely the intention and purpose of the conference: not a point of arrival but of departure.

In order to relieve the discussion, it was again Grassino’s turn to talk about “Close Encounters of the Third Kind: the Film”, with little known UFO background about the genesis and production of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster, the role played by astronomer-ufologist Joseph Allen Hynek and the Italian side of both items (the film and Hynek’s  Italian journey in that spring of ’78, with its queue of public conferences, interviews in newspapers and TV, publication of his book).

Four intense hours, but a strong stimulus for all the participants. The presentation slides of the papers and the whole recording of the speeches are available to CISU members, so to share the conference with those who were not able to attend.

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Pre-UFOs over Italy: 3,400 Apparitions in Past Centuries

preufocat-2018PreUfoCat is the catalog of unusual aerial phenomena over the Italian peninsula all along the centuries before 1900, coordinated by Pietro Torre. Its third edition has just been published by Upiar Publications under the title “Strange Lights in Italian History”.

torrepietroThe first edition (November 2011) presented about a thousand case histories in 260 large-format pages. The second edition (exactly three years later) had doubled the total of cases collected and reported in full, with bibliographic sources and illustrations, coming to 684 pages for a  limited edition (for collectors only) on paper, while the catalogue went out in a digital DVD edition (with a 12-page introductory paper booklet).

This third edition, arriving almost four years after the second, has risen to over 3,400 case histories, so that the 1,010 paper pages have been broken into two volumes for the limited edition (once again for collectors only, in full color), paralleling the DVD edition.

Both versions (as well as previous editions) can be purchased as usual from the Upiar Store website.

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In the central picture: Pietro Torre presenting PreUfoCat first edition at the 26th CISU conference (Turin, 2011)
Below: comparing the three editions of PreUfoCat.

Two UFO books by Nico Sgarlato

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The aeronautical journalist Nico Sgarlato succeeded in a odd record:  two UFO books by him were published within just over a month, the first ones in an already long career as a writer on technical issues.

At the end of September, Delta Publishing  announced the release of a volume titled “UFO Fighters” (80 pages, hardcover), which consists of a collection of articles he Sgarlato wrote about UFO cases hisotires having pilots in flight as witnesses , especially in the magazine “Aerei” (Airplanes) . Among these are Kenneth Arnold, Thomas Mantell, George Gorman, Frederick Valentich and Giancarlo Cecconi (Italy) testimonies, Washington, Lakenheath, Teheran, Belgium aerial encounters etc., each with a wide range of illustrations and references to the aerotechnical aspects.

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In early November, the book entitled “Roswell, New Mexico” (and subtitled “Flying disks, airplanes and secret military projects: stories and facts”, 93 pages + xvi of pictures) has been published  by UPIAR Publications about the famous story of a flying saucer crashed in southwestern USA, in those very early days when the “flying saucers” saga began. Here, too, author’s attention is mostly centered on aeronautical and military history, with an eye to the role played by intelligence in this and in some other historical cases (Mantell, Kinross, Fu-Go Ballooons, Kecksburg).

 

Nico Sgarlato (born in 1944 in Albenga,sgarlatonico where he has always lived) is mostly known as editor or editor-in-chief of several specialized periodicals (eg. Aviation & Navy, Airplanes, Aerospace-month, Airplanes in History, Aeronautics & Defense), but only a few people know he also has a ufologist curriculum dating back to his younger years and the collaboration with “Clypeus” magazine  (1967). Since 1990 he’s been  a full member of the Italian Center for UFO Studies (CISU), writing articles in its journal “UFO”.

1978 UFO invasion on show in Alessandria

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Exactly forty years ago, in the autumn of 1978, the whole Italy was overwhelmed by a real “UFO psychosis”: thousands of lights sighted in the sky and hundreds of close encounters (often with traces and humanoid beings) spread all along the peninsula in a crescendo culminated at the end of December.

But that’snot all: daily newspapers, magazines and general mass media were overflown with articles on the UFO subject, movie theaters projected Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (and “Eyes from Behind the Stars”, too), “Atlas UFO Robot” cartoon conquered the young kids from TV screens.

In order to celebrate the forty years from ’78 and the continuing presence of UFOs and extraterrestrial spacecraft in our everyday life, the Italian Center for UFO Studies (CISU) presents the thematic exhibition “The famous invasion of Flying Saucers at Bassavilla”, at the Ethnographic Museum ” Once upon a time”  in Alessandria, with free admission every day from 9 to 12 and from 15.30 to 19 (closed Sunday morning), from September 7th to 30th.

Inauguration will be held at 6 pm on Friday,  September 7th. On Sunday, September 23, at 5 pm, there will be a conference by Danilo Arona and Paolo Toselli about “Alessandria and the UFOs: 45 years of investigations”.

For information: tel.+39.0131.400.30, e-mail museogambarina6@gmail.com, www.museodellagambarina.it

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In the above picture: exhibition poster by Franco Brambilla (artist of many “Urania” cover pages) showing Dome Square in Alessandria (the “Bassavilla” born from the mind of Danilo Arona)  “invaded” by spaceships and aliens, who look like intrigued by a classic Borsalino hat.

Italian Air Force Now Admits: Military Planes Flew above Corio

by  Gian Paolo Grassino

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45 days later, the Italian Air Force released  a new and different version about the lights and loud air noises that  alerted the inhabitants of Corio and other towns in Malone Valley (province of Turin) on June 6 evening, as we have already reported.

Ufficio PIAt first, spokesmen of the Air Force Public Information Office in Rome told newspapers there were no military planes in flight, except “a Tornado training at a very high altitude, even higher than usual. None of our aircraft has flown over the area of ​​Corio at low altitude and we rule out that it might be an experimental aircraft” (as reported by Claudio Neve in Cronaca Qui daily newspaper). Or even: “The only plane training in the Turin area, at about 5 thousand meters of altitude, was a Tornado, as  verified on the radar. So it certainly has not passed just over the roofs of the houses” (Gianni Giacomino in La Stampa).

Thus, easy and unwarranted ironies followed on the dozens of people who had instead witnessed they had heard a loud and growing rumble shaking house windows and walls, and dozens outdoors or having had time to run outside  who had seen what most called two military planes.

Then two parliamentary questions were announced and presented by the honorable Francesca Bonomo to the Chamber of Deputies and by Mauro Marino to the Senate, and an inquiry was started by Public Attorney in Ivrea, Giuseppe Ferrando, announcing on June 12 that he had opened a file, charging the Carabinieri [Italian Gendarmerie] of the Venaria station to ask Air Force top echelons what had happened “with the only purpose of clarifying, if necessary, the whole affair”.

tornado-notteAs of now, no answer has yet come from the Ministry of Defense to the Parliamentary questions, but on July 21 the Public Attorney in Ivrea said that the Air Force had responded to him admitting that yes, on that night there were two aircraft military above Corio, for sake of precision two Tornados engaged in an exercise. Even the roar was real and was caused by an unspecified “technical trouble” causing “an abnormal noise”.

No reference, however, to the strong white light, first in slow motion, then stopping above the ridge, finally disappeared at the arrival of the fighters. But that was enough for newspapers and websites to title UFO Mystery Explained, No UFOs, those were Tornados or even Air Force Denies UFO Presence, when the military said nothing about the first white light (the real UFO of this story) and, if the Air Force denied something, they denied their own previous statements.

While the Attorney is going on with his investigations and members of Italian Parliament are waiting for the Government to say something, it is just the case  to point out that, once again, eyewitness were shown to be serious  and reliable. It was not a “hoax” but a sincere and precise description of what was actually there in the sky: two noisy military aircrafts at low altitude.

Starting from this first and important fact, we are now waiting to have access to the details the Air Force wrote down in order to try and understand if it was really an exercise, a training flight or some other air operation, as yet unclear. And we keep wondering what the other light was. As we have said since the first moment, that does not mean to endorse fantasy or SF-like hypotheses, but just to look for an explanation of what happened, with an open and rational mind.

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In the photos from top to down:
– a witness showing the exact spot where the light had stopped above the woods in  Corio, before disappearing when the planes arrived (investigation by Edoardo Russo, CISU);
– the Italian Air Force Public Information Office in Rome (source: U.P.I.A.M.);
– a night flying Tornado (source: N.S.M.).