Date: September 20, 1977
Location: Petrosavodsk, Russian Federation
Early risers in Petrosavodsk saw a bright light suddenly appearing amid the clouds at about 4:05 a.m. The star-like light came nearer and descended in a spiral trajectory, and soon looked like a ball of fire. Soon, it looked like an reddish-orange hemisphere surrounded by a bright zone. During the next few seconds, hundreds of thin rays of light, like thin arrows, were showered upon the earth. The thing now looked like a big jellyfish with golden tentacles, shining in beautiful colors.
Photograph of the UFOs of Petrosavodsk, above the Onega Lake, in the early morning hours of September 20, 1977. This photograph was also published in the newspaper Pravda. (credit: Hesemann)
Type of Case/Report: StandardCase
Hynek Classification: CE1
# of Witnesses: Multiple
Special Features/Characteristics: Sound, Physical Trace, Mass Sighting
Source: Michael Hesemann, 1998
In 1978 the Soviet party paper Pravda paper announced, without a suggestion of doubt "... An intensely radiant 'star' which looked like a shining jellyfish, stood above Petrosavodsk. It moved slowly towards Petrosavodsk, throwing rays of light on the city. There were thousands of beams and it looked like heavy rain. A little later, the beaming came to an end, the source of light changed its brightness and moved towards Onezskoe lake. On the horizon were gray clouds, and when the object went in to these, a number of semicircles and circles of pink light appeared. The manifestation lasted 10 to 12 minutes."
Naturally every speculation was avoided, and also the term "UFO" was not used. In spite of that, the report gave a good, though short impression of what had happened exactly one year before in Petrosavodsk—and what had been meanwhile examined with painstaking thoroughness by a commission of experts especially set up for that purpose.
It had happened on September 20, 1977. Early risers in Petrosavodsk (185,000 inhabitants), the capital of the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Republic, saw a bright light suddenly appearing amid the clouds at about 4:05 a.m. The star-like light came nearer and descended in a spiral trajectory, and soon looked like a ball of fire. It then reduced its speed and finally hovered for about 6 minutes in one spot. If anyone had not noticed it before, they noticed it now, for it made a terrible noise like the howling of a siren. The howling stopped and the object started moving silently towards the town. Soon, it looked like an reddish-orange hemisphere surrounded by a bright zone, in which there were many points of light like stars that twinkled and disappeared. The light began to pulsate. A beam of light came out like a telescope from the bottom of the object, vertically downwards, followed by a second, less bright beam. After a time, both the beams disappeared.
During the next few seconds, hundreds of thin rays of light, like thin arrows, were showered upon the earth. People who had, until then, watched the spectacle fascinated, now broke into a panic. They ran around the streets, throwing themselves to the ground. Some workers in the harbor thought that it was an American nuclear attack and shouted "This is the end!" "Tass" correspondent Nikolai Milov, who interviewed hundreds of people soon afterwards, said "People looked as if they had suddenly become sick. They gave the impression of being mentally disturbed. People who had been sleeping said that at this moment they had been suddenly awakened and had had an unpleasant feeling. Some suffered from nightmares and depressions. Most of them said that they had felt 'electric currents' inside themselves."
The thing now looked like a big jellyfish with golden tentacles, shining in beautiful colors. The white glow around the hemisphere had now shrunk to a shining ring. The beams of light came down to earth in a slight curve. They drilled thousands of holes in the asphalt and in window panes. Some of the people estimated the diameter of the object at about 300 feet. They said that it came down, closer and closer, and finally hovered above the harbor. By now it was shining so brightly that it hurt the eyes to look at it. Then a smaller and brighter object in the shape of an electric bulb detached itself from the jellyfish and flew over the roofs and between the houses along the street. Some of the people claimed to have seen this "bulb" returning to its mother ship and disappearing into it. A doctor said that while he was looking at the object his car had broken down. The air was filled with the smell pf ozone,
Yuri Gromov, director of the meteorological station of Petrosavodsk, hatched the phenomenon and said: "The body gradually assumed the shape of an elliptical ring. It finally moved towards the bank of clouds above Onezskoe Lake, burned a red hole in the clouds and disappeared into it." The whole show had lasted for about 12 minutes. Whatever it was, at least the meteorologist Gromov ruled out the possibility of its being a ball of lightning or an aerial reflection. And at that time there were no aircraft or helicopters in the air space above Petrosavodsk. Gromov said: "In my opinion it was either a UFO, the messenger of a higher intelligence with crew and passengers, or a field of energy that came from a UFO."
During the next couple of weeks, over 1,500 letters were sent to the authorities and to the "Tass" agency, expressing worry and concern: "How safe is it to stay in Petrosavodsk?" or "Is a journey to the Karelian capital dangerous?" or "How high is the radioactivity?" All these letters as well as the eyewitness reports in the archives of "Tass" were confiscated by government officials. All further references to this topic were forbidden, and scientists investigated the case in secret. Vasil Sakharchenko, the publisher °f the magazine Technique and Youth, who had good connections with government sources, said, "The Commission of Academy of Sciences has found that the holes in the stones and window-panes give the impression that the glass had been melted—The holes are the size of a coin." The window of a factory in Petrosavodsk, perforated in such a way, were sent to Moscow for analysis. The results of the analysis were given out only towards the end of 1981, by Dr. V. G. Azhazha during a lecture.
"In many of the windows of the houses in the town of Petrosavod.sk, there , peared holes the size of'2 to 3 inches in diameter, whose borders showed signs of melting. Circular pieces of glass of the panes of inner windows were missing or lay on the ground or the window sill. The analysis was interesting. Under the electron microscope, they discovered a crystalline structure on the surface of the non-crystalline glass. They said it was normally impossible, but it was there. It remained a mystery. The only possibility was that mysterious objects had been active."
Years later, samples of these glass pieces were also shown to experts in the West. In 1978 the astronomer Dr. Dale Cruikshank and the sociologist David W. Swift of the University of Hawaii were allowed to see the glass pieces at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow. They confirmed the existence of a crystalline structure at the edges of the holes, as did the chemist Prof. Manfred Kage of the Institute for Scientific Photography at Schloss Weissenstein near Stuttgart, who later examined one pane with a number of holes.
The sensation caused by the Petrosavodsk incident compelled the scientific establishment to take action. The president of the Academy of Sciences formed a special commission to be led by the academy member W. Migulin. The commission took up the job of investigating the case, albeit with little enthusiasm. After a superficial study they came to the conclusion that the holes were the result of a "Still unknown natural atmospheric phenomenon, possibly in connection with human technology, for instance a rocket launch." As a matter of fact, during the time in question, at exactly 4:03 a.m., a rocket had been launched carrying the spy satellite Cosmos 955 at Plesetsk, about 200 miles east of Petrosavodsk. But it is obvious that this rocket could not have been the cause of the phenomenon: the shining jellyfish was sighted at first west of Petrosavodsk, and it moved underneath the clouds, long after the rocket had passed through the stratosphere. Of course, no rocket leaves behind thousands of holes in glass and asphalt. And as to what kind of atmospheric phenomena it could have been, nothing was said. All that had been established was that it was not an extraterrestrial object because it should not have been one.
Fortunately, Migulin confessed his own personal dissatisfaction about the matter in an interview with the Soviet journal The Week: "I confess that the insufficient investigation of this case is our fault. Many serious scientists try their best to circumvent speculative problems. The story of science shows that little or no knowledge exists regarding such problems, simply because their investigation carries with it the danger of losing a lot of time, and even more than that, one's reputation. Neither I nor my colleagues were, therefore, particularly enamoured with the task of examining this case when ordered to do so by the President of the Academy."
The investigation was conducted by researchers of the Leningrad Arctic and Antarctic Institute, the Geophysical Institute of Obrinsk, and a number of geologists, meteorologists and experts from the Air Force and Navy. Irrespective of what it was, they were at least able to trace the route of the mysterious object almost without a gap. Between 3:06 and 3:10 a.m., police officers in the Finnish capital Helsinki had reported sighting "a bright ball of fire, " which hovered over the airport for 4 minutes, and then moved eastwards. This was also confirmed by the radar at the control tower of the Helsinki airport. A little later the author Limik at Namoyevo, 20 miles northwest of Petrosavodsk, saw it through his telescope. He described the UFO as a lens-shaped object shining violet and surrounded by a shining ring. It had bright pulsating rays of light coming out of it "like the tentacles of a Medusa" (jellyfish). At 3:30 a.m. fishermen on Onezskoe Lake near Primosk saw a bright light in the sky which was surrounded by a kind of haze. At 4:00 a.m. employees at the observatory at Pulkovo saw the ball of fire in the north, as did a pilot in a passenger plane flying from Kiev to Leningrad. After its appearance over Petrosavodsk, they sighted the disc above Yandevar, south of the Karelian capital. At Polovina, 15 miles east of Petrosavodsk, people saw a cloud changing in color at 4:40 a.m. as if it had been lit up by a source of light inside it.
Case ID: 636
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