As the public eagerly awaits a US government report including declassified information about alleged UFO encounters, at least one expert is skeptical.
Texas A&M University astronomer Nick Suntzeff, who has been involved with space research for almost 50 years, says he doubts the report will include evidence where an unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAP), the preferred alternative to UFO, ‘is clearly resolved.’
‘I am not optimistic that we will be shown extraordinary evidence where there is no natural explanation for what is seen,’ Suntzeff said in a recent university release, adding that most UAP images and videos ‘are usually out of focus.’
Texas A&M University astronomer Nick Suntzeff says most ‘evidence’ of UFOs can be explained by out-of-focus cameras or witnesses misjudging the size and speed of the object. Pictured: A still from a video released in May 2021, appearing to show a UFO buzzing a US stealth ship near San Diego
In a Q&A with Texas A&M, Suntzeff discussed footage of the ‘Triangle’ UAP posted online and confirmed by the Navy in April, saying other objects in the video also appear as triangles.
‘What this means is that the camera was out of focus and the camera pupil [shutter] was triangular,’ Suntzeff said. ‘It is an out-of-focus video taken with an infrared camera.’
Expert analysis has also shown the additional objects mirror the positions of the stars near Jupiter and the constellation Taurus, Suntzeff said.
‘Also, this UFO blinks in the same way a commercial aircraft does,’ he added. ‘It was taken off the coast of Los Angeles where there is lots of air traffic.’
Often what excited spectators swear is a UFO is really just the planet Venus, twinkling in the night sky. Pictured: An image from a Department of Defense video from 2015, labelled ‘Gimbal,’ that shows an unexplained object high among the clouds
Suntzeff criticized the Navy for not checking with an astronomer before releasing the video ‘because they could have quickly shown that this is an out-of-focus image.’
Another viral video of a UAP, from 2004, depicts what former Navy pilot Cmdr. David Fravor called a ‘white Tic Tac’ defying the laws of physics.
‘The problem here is that we don’t know how far away it was,’ Suntzeff said. ‘If it was high above the ocean, then the apparent motion is likely due to the airplane and not the object,’ a phenomenon called parallax.
‘You can often find answers like this,’ Suntzeff said of alleged alien spacecraft.
‘There are often simple, but boring answers.’
While even military personnel will report a UFO is a certain size and moving at a certain speed, ‘If you don’t know what the object is, you can’t know how far away it is, or how big it is,’ Suntzeff said.
Texas A&M University astronomer Nick Suntzeff is dubious the government’s impending UFO report will ‘clearly resolve’ the existence of extraterrestrial life or spacecraft
Often what excited spectators swear is a UFO is really just the planet Venus, twinkling in the night sky, he said.
He also doesn’t hold much faith in the long-held conspiracy theory that the US government has spaceships that have crashed on Earth—and even alien remains—on ice at Area 51.
‘If they do, this is the best kept secret ever,’ Suntzeff said. ‘Our government is not great at keeping secrets, and this one would be a doozy.’
And any intelligent civilization that could travel thousands of light years to Earth wouldn’t just crash their rocket, he added. ‘If they can travel that distance, I seriously doubt they would be this careless.’
Graduating with a degree in mathematics from Stanford University (where he built the school’s student observatory), Suntzeff earned a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
In the 1980s, he worked in the University of Washington’s astronomy department and the observatories at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and, relocating to Chile, conducted groundbreaking research into supernovae.
More recently he was the associate director of science at the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory and served as vice president of the American Astronomical Society.
‘Tic Tac’ UFO: US Navy pilot made visual contact with the object on November 14, 2004
At least six Super Hornet pilots made visual or instrument contact with the UFO on November 14, 2004.
The encounters, which are documented in numerous interviews with first-hand witnesses, remain a mystery, and the object’s incredible speed and movements have led to speculation that it was extraterrestrial in origin.
The original FLIR video from the USS Nimitz encounters leaked online as early as 2007.
Witnesses say that clips of the video had been circulated widely on the Navy’s intranet – used to communicate between ships in the carrier group – and an unknown sailor in the group likely first leaked it.
The clip became one of the most-touted pieces of evidence in the UFO community when the Pentagon confirmed its authenticity in 2017.
In January, Chad Underwood, the former Navy aviator who shot the famous leaked video clip, broke his silence in an interview with New York Magazine.
Chad Underwood, the former Navy aviator who shot the famous leaked video clip, broke his silence in an interview with New York Magazine in January
He said the oblong, wingless ‘Tic Tac’ shaped object was spotted off the coast of Mexico over the Pacific.
He also revealed that for about two weeks, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Princeton, part of Carrier Strike Group 11, had been tracking mysterious aircraft intermittently on an advanced AN/SPY-1B passive radar.
The radar contacts were so inexplicable that the system was even shut down and restarted to to check for bugs – but operators continued to track the unknown aircraft.
Then on November 14, Commander David Fravor says he was flying in an F/A-18F Super Hornet when he made visual contact with the object, which seemed to dive below the water, resurface, and speed out of sight when he tried to approach it.
As Fravor landed on the deck of the Nimitz, Underwood was just gearing up to take off on his own training run.
Fravor told Underwood about the bizarre encounter, and urged Underwood to keep his eyes open.
He recalls how he suddenly saw a blip on his radar before tracking it on his FLIR camera.
Underwood was flying in an F/A-18F Super Hornet as part of the USS Nimitz (above) carrier group when he encountered an ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’
‘The thing that stood out to me the most was how erratic it was behaving,’ Underwood told the magazine.
‘And what I mean by ‘erratic’ is that its changes in altitude, air speed, and aspect were just unlike things that I’ve ever encountered before flying against other air targets.’
Underwood said the object wasn’t obeying the laws of physics and dropped from 50,000 feet altitude to 100 feet in seconds, which he says, ‘isn’t possible’. He added that he saw no signs of an engine heat plume or any sign of propulsion.
The pilot refuses to speculate as to whether the object is an alien spacecraft or not, however.
‘That’s not my job. But I saw something. And it was also seen, via eyeballs, by both my commanding officer, Dave Fravor, and the Marine Corps Hornet squadron commanding officer who was out there as well.’
Suntzeff can’t rule out that our planet has been visited by creatures from other planets. ‘But we need clear evidence,’ he said. ‘A clear photo, for instance. So far, we do not have such evidence.’
The Director of National Intelligence has until June 25 to present the report, which will be available to the public.
A poll from May found that nearly two-thirds of all Americans believe extraterrestrial life exists and that the US government isn’t telling the public the full truth.
In April 2020, the Pentagon declassified three videos previously acknowledged as authentic by the Navy that captured what pilots recorded on their video sensors during training flights in 2004 and 2015.
Two of the clips were first published in 2017 by the New York Times and the third in 2018 by the To The Stars Academy, a group that specializes in unexplained phenomenon founded by Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge.