Summary: It was the LITS (‘light-in-the-sky’) in Hessdalen that attracted the attention of UFO researchers from Norway and Sweden in the early l980’s, and since then many others from around the world. The Hessdalen LITS were the first to be subjected to scientific scrutiny using a whole host of hi-tech equipment. Hessdalen really was the scene of "Science vs. The UFO".
While tales of alien abduction and government cover-ups are rife, little is heard of the most common of UFO sightings, that of the ‘light-in-the-sky’ (LITS). It is true that most LITS reports can be easily explained away, usually as aircraft lights, but also astronomical bodies such as bright stars and planets. But there is a small residue of such LITS reports that are not so easily explained. These often haunt certain geographical areas such as the Pennine Hills of Northern England, Marfa, Texas in the USA, and Hessdalen in central Norway. It was the LITS in Hessdalen that attracted the attention of UFO researchers from Norway and Sweden in the early l980’s, and since then many others from around the world. The Hessdalen LITS were the first to be subjected to scientific scrutiny using a whole host of hi-tech equipment. Hessdalen really was the scene of "Science vs. The UFO".
Hessdalen is a valley in central Norway. It lies southeast of Trondheim and about 30 kilometres northwest of the town of Roros. The whole valley stretches 12 kilometres in length and has only around 200 inhabitants. The valley is special for one very unusual thing; mysterious lights.
The First Appearance
In December l981, unknown lights suddenly started to appear in the skies above Hessdalen. These lights could sometimes stand still for more than an hour. They were also seen to move around slowly before stopping, and sometimes they were observed travelling at a fast rate of speed. At one time the lights were tracked on radar and were estimated to be travelling at approximately 8,500 meters per second.
These lights were observed just about everywhere and more often than not they were below the horizon down in the valley and not high up in the sky. It has to be said that the vast majority of the lights were reported to be below the tops of nearby mountains. No one in Hessdalen could offer an explanation for these strange lights.
The Shapes of the Lights
The lights themselves appeared to have several different shapes. This was something that became quite apparent when the lights were photographed. The main shapes were; bullet shaped, with the sharp end down, a round football shape, and an upside down Christmas tree shape. There were other shapes but the above three were the main ones.
The colors of the lights were mostly white or a yellow/white. Sometimes a small red light could be seen amongst the white. On a few occasions the lights were made up of every colour in the rainbow. The lights could be observed several times a day, but they were seen more during the night. At the most they were observed four times a day. There were more reports of the lights in the winter rather than the summer. One reason for this might be the fact that in summer Hessdalen has almost perpetual daylight.
The Colors of the Lights
The lights could be split into three groups:
1. Small and strong white or blue flashes which could show up everywhere in the sky.
2. Yellow or yellow/white lights. These lights were, more often than not, observed in the valley and below the horizon. Sometimes they were just above the rooftops and even down on the ground. They could appear stationary for more than an hour before slowly moving off around the valley, and sometimes they could show extremely fast acceleration and very fast speeds.
3. Several lights together at a fixed distance from each other. Mostly these were yellow or yellow/white lights with a red light at the front. These lights could move slowly around the tops of the mountains.
The reports of the strange lights carried on throughout l982, but suddenly in the spring of l983, sightings of them dropped rapidly. By the summer of l983 there were no reports of the lights at all. However, in the autumn and winter of l983 the sightings began again but in far fewer numbers than before. Things changed somewhat in the autumn of l984 as the sightings began once more to increase.
As no official institute with governmental support in Norway seemed to be interested in these strange lights, five individual researchers began their own research project: Project Hessdalen. Their aim was simple, to discover what the lights in Hessdalen were. The project consisted of a working committee which had the responsibility of running the project, and an advisory committee to help the working committee in the theoretical part of the project. The advisors were also there to act as an "expert" group to answer questions from others involved in the project.
Project Hessdalen Begins
Project Hessdalen managed to obtain good contacts in a number of institutions in Norway including the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, The University of Oslo, the University of Bergen and also the University of Trondheim. Some of the Project’s team had made contact with these establishments in the past in the course of other research.
The UFO research groups of both UFO Norway and UFO Sweden along with many volunteers began their field studies of the Hessdalen lights in January l984. A wide variety of sophisticated instrumentation was to be used in order to try and get to grips with the unknown lights. Such instrumentation included a battery of cameras, radar, spectrum analyser, geiger counter, and much more.
No sooner had the field study began in snow-bound Hessdalen valley than the project began to obtain some positive results. On January 27, l984, the lights were seen by project members and on radar. At 5:32 pm an, oblong-shaped light was observed. The light was observed moving away over the mountains and out of sight. The light had a white and red color to it which blinked at uneven intervals. On January 28th, at 3:49 pm, something was detected on radar but nothing was seen with the naked eye. On January 29th, there was again an echo on the radar but again nothing was seen by the eyes of the gathered observers. On February 1st, numerous radar returns were made but again the lights remained elusive to the ground observers. Later that night an oblong-shaped light was observed by 11 people and it was also photographed. Throughout the remainder of the project numerous observations of the lights would be made and they were photographed on many occasions.
A similar exercise was attempted again in the winter of 1985, but due to extremely bad weather conditions it was not possible to repeat the success of the l984 project. American UFO researcher, the late Dr J. Allen Hynek, who was at one time a consultant to the official United States Air Force UFO study Project Blue Book, visited the l985 Hessdalen project. It was to be one of his last field trips before he died later that same year. Dr. Hynek described the project as "a UFO laboratory" and was extremely impressed by the results of the l984 project and of the efforts of all those involved.
Since that time Project Hessdalen has been discussed and debated in many countries around the world. The lights, although still there, are not in such profusion as they were in l984. Some equipment still monitors the area and the researchers involved still hope to set up camp in the Hessdalen valley once again should the lights return in large numbers.
It has been speculated that the strange lights could be related to some kind of weather phenomenon, or to lights produced by faults in the earth’s crust termed "earthlights". Some believe that a solid structure lies behind the lights, but no one knows for sure what they are. They remain truly unidentified.
In the spring of l994 a group of 20 scientists attended a workshop in Hessdalen which lasted for four days. These included Professor Boris Smirnov from the Institute of High Temperatures in Moscow, Russia, Professor David Fryberger from the Stanford Linear Accelerator in the USA, and Professor Yoshi Othsuki from Waseda University in Japan. All agreed that the Hessdalen lights were "real" and not illusions of any kind and that they were worthy of further scientific study. UFOs had been promoted into the scientific premier league.
UK based researcher Paul Devereux who is part of the Project Hessdalen consultancy team and was at the for day workshop in l994 continues to work closely with Project Hessdalen leader Erling Strand. Both have ventured far and wide to research similar types of light phenomenon in other parts of the world.
Today, 17 years after Project Hessdalen, where UFO Norway and UFO Sweden joined forces to complete one of, if not the most complete scientific study of UFO’s conducted by any civilian UFO group, sightings are still being reported. The local population still regularly report sightings direct to UFO Norway. Local people have reported both lights-in-the-sky and apparent structured, cigar-shaped UFOs. Recent sightings (year 2001) include a report by Mr. F. Moen on April 13th. In a valley west of Hessdalen his son observed a fast moving light for over 20 minutes. Throughout the sighting the light continued to change color as it moved about the sky. Earlier in the year, on March 28th, Mr. Tor Gaserud was driving towards the town of Roros when he observed a blue-green light close to the mountain ridge. The light was observed for around 20 seconds. Right at the beginning of the year Mr. Peder Gronas and his grandson, Bjarne Lillevold, were driving towards Hessdalen when they observed a bright light just above the mountain. Whatever these LITS are, they continue to be observed in and around the Hessdalen region as these few sightings clearly show.