Alleged UFO hovers over Knott’s Berry Farm

A Beverly Hills, California, man visiting Knott’s Berry Farm claims to have captured a UFO in a photograph during the theme park’s Halloween Haunt event.

Ryan Boone sent the photo, which he claims is undoctored, to Los Angeles TV station KNBC. (We’ve added the arrow to the photo at right to point out the alleged unidentified flying object.) You can see the original pic on KNBC’s Web site.

Boone says he shot the photo at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, while waiting in line to ride the Xcelerator roller coaster.

“I’ve never been a believer in UFOs until I took this photo and saw it with my own eyes,” Boone told KNBC.

Commenters on the TV station’s Web site have suggested that the alleged UFO is actually just a reflection off the camera lens, but isn’t that what “they” always say when someone captures a pic of a mysterious object in the sky?

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Mysterious blue light shines over Norway

On December 9th, residents of northern Norway were surprised to see a weird blue light shining above. According to reports, the beam of light seemed to point to the sky from behind a mountain. As the light began moving in circles, forming a spiral, a brighter beam came out of the center. The phenomenon lasted for about 12 minutes.

After the light disappeared, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute was inundated with calls from people asking about what they had seen. Almost as quickly, people began speculating about what the light could have been from. Air traffic controllers who saw the light said it lasted too long to be astronomical, and it is not believed to be connected to the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.

Another conjecture was that the light came from Russian missile testing in the White Sea but the Russian Navy has denied any such testing. Experts say that if the missile exploded, the leaking jet fuel could create the odd pattern. Of course, there are some who have a few more far fetched ideas. Black hole, UFO, astronomical event or man-made light show – we many never know what really caused the odd light pattern.

Britain says no to alien welcomes

The visitors traveling the longest distances to Britain will find the phones shut off. Citing the high costs of operation, the British military has shut down its UFO hotline. So, not only will aliens not be welcomed personally, the messages reported via their crop circles will go unreported. This is the end of a half-century commitment in the United Kingdom to helping the nutty find an audience.

According to the Ministry of Defense, ditching the UFO office will translate to an annual savings of around $73,000 a year, money much better spent supporting the 9,500 soldiers the country has deployed to Afghanistan. No jobs were lost as a result of this decision, and the military isn’t taking a position on the existence of UFOs or alien life. More than 12,000 sightings were reported to the UFO office, some of which were accompanied by pictures drawn by those lucky enough to witness the arrival of little green men. None was interpreted as a threat to national security.

Many Britons are upset about the closing of the UFO hotline, which was accompanied by the deactivation of the UFO e-mail account. Roy Lake, founder of the London UFO Studies group, calls this “a threat to national security.” He tells The Associated Press, “We take this quite seriously. We know that sometimes things can be explained as natural phenomena but there could be that one thing that’s not. I think the government knows damn well what’s going on up there and they’re covering it up.”

Of course, any life form that could find its way to Earth would probably master Twitter pretty quickly, so the shuttering of the British UFO office probably isn’t a big deal. I can see it now: “Hey #Earth. Here from Mars. @Gadling reco place 2 stay? #herefromanotherplanet”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense counters Lake’s worries: “None of the thousands of UFO sightings reported over the years have ever provided substantiated proof of the existence of extraterrestrials.” He continued, “There is no defense value in investigating UFO reports.”

Nonetheless, Nick Pope sees a concern. He has helped the British military investigate UFOs and believes that the decision is “a great shame.” Pope says the program encouraged pilots and other experts to tip off the authorities to suspicious activity, saying, “That’s one thing we learned in the 9/11 attacks, the threat of incoming aircraft with transponders turned off.” Meanwhile, he seems to overlook the fact that these risks can be addressed through many other existing channels of communication.

And, if you do see a UFO in Britain, there are still plenty of organizations you can call. And, there’s always YouTube, as you can see from the clip below.

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[Photo by mujitra via Flickr]

Crop circles are back!

Remember crop circles, those strange shapes that started appearing in the Nineties in fields all across England? We haven’t heard much about them lately, but according to an article in the Guardian’s G2 magazine, this year hikers in England’s beautiful countryside should see a bumper crop. May was a banner month, and new circles are already showing up in June. The article has an interesting gallery of some of this year’s best and gives a step-by-step guide to making your own, although there are more detailed instructions at How Stuff Works.

Nobody is sure when the crop circle phenomenon actually began, but simple designs caught the attention of UFO researchers in the Seventies. Soon simple circles weren’t enough and designs became more and more elaborate. Paranormal investigators argued whether they were made by aliens, earth spirits, or dozens of other possible sources. They tried to ignore the TV interviews with artists who showed how you could flatten wheat into designs with simple tools such as a board and rope. The craze eventually spread to mainland Europe, Japan, and North America.

Some artists have even created an organization called Circlemakers and boast of their work on their website. Not only have these guys done the typical circles and designs, they’ve also done ads for Shredded Wheat, Nike, and Hello Kitty.

This hasn’t stopped organizations such as the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group from studying what they say is an unexplained phenomenon. They claim that while evidence such as post holes or confessions by artists prove most crop circles are man made, a minority of circles defy explanation, an argument that is tantamount to saying that while we have documentation for the construction of most medieval cathedrals, there are no blueprints or payrolls for other cathedrals and therefore they must have been made by aliens.

But that is neither here nor there. The truth is not as mundane as the skeptics insist or the believers fear–in fact the truth is even more amazing than UFOs or Earth Powers or whatever. Dedicated groups of artists have, usually for no fame or money, imprinted complex works of art onto the landscape under the cover of night. England has always been a culture deeply tied to its landscape and hiking is one of the most popular activities here. Most of its ancient monuments such as Stonehenge or Silbury Hill are in fact modifications of their natural surroundings. As England becomes more urban, the English are losing touch with the landscape. The artists who make crop circles are bringing their country back to its roots. It’s an amazing cultural movement that is giving the country beautiful works of art rooted in tradition yet with a futuristic twist. They should be applauded.

I once got to examine a crop circle near West Kennet Long Barrow. Circle makers like to make their designs near ancient sites, which is pretty easy considering the countryside is full of them. This circle was a simple pattern, a big circle with some radial designs. Being on the hill leading up to one of England’s most impressive megalithic ruins added to the atmosphere and made the visit more memorable. As the hiking season gets going, I’m starting a new series called English Country Walks. If I come across more crop circles, I’ll be sure to take photos and share them here!

UFO spotted in Manhattan … sort of

UFO?A UFO was sighted last night at around 4 AM EST in Manhattan … maybe.

The report comes from a 22 year old “John Smith” (who wanted to remain anonymous due to academic probation), who claims that he saw an object flying above nearby buildings out his apartment window at approximately 4 AM.

“It was like a lit up hockey puck, only large enough to carry maybe two guys. There were two rows of blue lights, and at the very bottom it had an eye, like an actual eyeball that opened and closed. It stopped briefly and told me it was a Pisces. I ran to get my roommate, but when we got back it was gone.”

Mr. Smith admits he was on drugs at the time of the sighting but “nothing you can’t get at most delis.”