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I didn't save the newspaper article, so I got this download from PressDisplay.com which sabotages my narrow blog format but never mind:
It is one of the worst pieces of pseudo-astro-journalism I can recall, a photograph of a natural phenomena, published alongside claims that "UFOs" are active locally. It's not the first time the Chronicle has published the ridiculous claim by local "UFO enthusiasts" that Campbelltown is a "hot spot" for "UFO" activity. If it's true, why didn't the "investigative journalist" tell us where these objects are supposed to be hiding? In the Botanic Gardens? Mawson Park? Fisher's Ghost Restaurant perhaps?
The sundog photograph was quite a good one but the reader who sent it in clearly preferred it to be an alien spacecraft. He even followed it up with a letter this week on the "hot spot" issue. My letter in response to the earlier article then follows.
I was not speaking for MAS but I signed myself as a Member. For the record, the wikipedia sundog page is >here<.
There are two major concerns with the original article.
This reeks of not wanting the facts to ruin a good story and it reminds me of a previous "UFO" story which was verified as balloons rather than aliens but the story was still published. It sadly undermines MAS efforts to educate the community about the night and day sky.
The first concern is that it promotes a group of local people who constantly like to describe Campbelltown as a "UFO hot spot". Well, they are entitled to their own irrational opinions but they never provide any credible evidence; and when a photograph is produced of something which they cannot explain, they rush it off to the local media, as they have before, without trying to verify it first, implying it is an "Unidentified Flying Object".
Wrong on all three words. It was not "Unidentified"; nor was it "Flying"; nor was it even an "Object"! It was just light refracting through ice crystals in the sky.
The photograph was actually one of the clearest and most identifable that I have seen from these people. Unfortunately for them it was clearly and unambiguously an atmospheric sundog.
The second concern is that a journalist can fill half a page with suggestive and unresearched tripe about "UFOs", accompanied by a photograph of a well-known atmospheric phenomenon which he did not even try to explain. The tone of the article was to imply that we are being zoomed over by alien space-craft, which we are not.
I don't like to shoot the messenger and perhaps this journalist was simply writing what he was told to write - but how much better would this article have been if the headline read: "Reader Snaps Unusual Sundog Near Horizon" and the journalist had quoted reputable scientific explanations of the event?
The Chronicle is in regular contact with members of the Macarthur Astronomical Society, including the President; the Secretary; a former President; and a former Secretary (myself) but did not contact any of us to ask for a rational explanation. The same journalist had been in contact with our former president only a few days earlier but had not sought his opinion on this.
By all means keep an open mind, Mr. Smith - but when there is no credible evidence for aliens spending their holidays on our planet, please don't show your ignorance (and your "closed opinion") by posting an image of a natural event to support your preconceived conclusions. Try googling 'atmospheric phenomena' first - or better still, contact someone at MAS through the website www.macastro.org.au or on Facebook or send an e-mail to: email@example.com