Will-o’-the-Wisp: A Curious Nocturnal Illumination with a Troublesome History

It was, arguably, one of the most infamous moments in the history of UFO studies. Following a rash of sightings over Michigan that began in March 1966, Professor J. Allen Hynek, astronomer and scientific advisor to the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book investigation into UFOs, offered an explanation for what Michiganians who had observed strange lights in the night sky might have actually been seeing. Swamp gas. It was a day that would be remembered in infamy among UFO proponents, and Hynek would never fully live it down, despite going on to become one of the most well-regarded scientific proponents of the existence of unidentified flying objects. The fact that then-Congressman Gerald Ford took personal issue with what he called Hynek’s “flippant” remarks no doubt played a role in solidifying the date in the minds of hopeful UFO enthusiasts, many of whom would never grant Hynek a full reprieve for passing such judgment on UFO witnesses. Even today, the term “swamp gas” is still fairly well recognized in the context of UFO studies on account of Hynek’s famous faux pas. This, despite the fact that the phenomenon he had been referencing is quite real and, with little doubt, actually…

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Will-o’-the-Wisp: A Curious Nocturnal Illumination with a Troublesome History

Updated: July 22, 2021 — 10:27 am