A UFO…from 1883?

In 1883, José Bonilla took several photographs of objects crossing in front of the sun. After more than a century of speculation, scientists believe they have finally identified these objects. Were they high flying geese? A series of old UFOs? Or was it a force of epic proportions…a force that nearly destroyed the Earth?


First things first. As many of you know, I released my first novel yesterday. It’s an adventure thriller along the lines of Indiana Jones or books written by Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, or Steve Berry. If you haven’t already done so, please consider picking up a copy of Chaos at one of the following locations:

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords * Paperback

 An Old UFO Sighting…from 1883?

Now, on August 12, 1883, an astronomer named José Bonilla was studying sunspot activity at the Zacatecas Observatory in Mexico. Suddenly, he noticed something strange. Dark objects seemed to be crossing in front of the sun. Bonilla worked fast and managed to take a couple photographs of the phenomenon.

In 1886, these pictures were released to the public via the magazine L’Astronomie. Taken as a whole, they were “dubbed the first photo of a UFO – a series of 447 objects that looked ‘misty’ and ‘left behind a similar misty trace.'” However, the magazine’s editor was more skeptical and attributed the images to high-flying birds, insects, or a dust cloud rather than an old UFO.

What was this Old UFO?

Recently, a team of scientists led by Hector Javier Durand Manterola at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México proposed a new theory to explain Bonilla’s strange images. Namely, they believe the objects were parts of a “highly fragmented comet.”

Using Bonilla’s observations, Manterola estimated that the objects in question measured anywhere between 151 – 2,608 feet across and passed at a distance of 334 -5,009 miles above the Earth’s surface. If true, then it means that this gigantic body “came close to hitting the Earth – with a similar mass to the object that killed the dinosaurs.” (Assuming, of course, that an asteroid or comet actually killed the dinosaurs in the first place).

“The only bodies in the Solar System which are surrounded by a bright mistiness are the comets, so it is appropriate to suppose that the objects seen by Bonilla were small comets.” ~ Hector Javier Durand Manterola, Maria de la Paz Ramos Lara, and Guadalupe Cordero

Not everyone agrees. There were no reports of a meteor shower at the time. And the annual Perseid meteor shower “was no brighter than usual.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

As far as I can determine, the evidence pointing to a comet is pretty skimpy (as is the evidence pointing to an old UFO). It appears that Manterola’s team made its determination based primarily on the “bright mistiness” of the objects. Then they proceeded to analyze the objects as such.

All in all, the theory is plausible. And I tend to think that comets have impacted Earth at a greater rate than history generally assumes (possibly even causing the Black Death). But the lack of an exceptional meteor shower raises significant questions that are difficult to answer. Regardless, if Bonilla’s 1883 sighting was a fragmented comet, we can be thankful it didn’t come any closer to Earth. Otherwise, well, we might not be here right now.

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