Research and Investigation into Anomalous Light Phenomena
on and over Lake Ontario, Ontario, Canada

The Astronautical Theory for UFO Encounters

Astro-navigational links
with correlated tracks - A Pilot Study

Copyright ©T.R. Dutton, C.Eng.

October 1999

All Rights Reserved

1. Introduction to the Theory

Thirty years’ objective analysis and global synthesis of reported UNIDENTIFIABLE aerial objects, collected from a period of more than a century, resulted in the formulation of an Astronautical Theory for UFO Close Encounters. The logical process by which this was achieved and the subsequent proving activity are summarised below:-

Technical analysis of selected British UFO reports during the period 1967 to 1973 had emphasised the physical reality of the craft being described by witnesses. Furthermore, an overview of the affected sites indicated that specific areas had been selected for close scrutiny during each period of activity. The objects had often been seen to descend from the sky and to return into it, with performance capabilities far beyond anything achievable by man-made craft. These observations implied that, since they had not been humanly-contrived, the artefacts had originated from an extra-terrestrial source. A database of selected cases, reported world-wide during the period 1885 to 1971, was then used to try to identify modes of operation in space which could have been linked with the observed aerial activity. This exercise was begun in 1973 and, by 1980, there were indications that a programmed surveillance and exploration activity had been carried on throughout that historical period.

Further development during the 1980s resulted in definition of the programmed activity in the form of an Astronautical Theory for UFO Close Encounters. (Reports defined by Dr. J Allen Hynek [Ref 7.1] as Close Encounters (CEs) were preferred data, because the location of the observer could be regarded as being virtually the same as that of the object being described.) Well-established approach and departure tracks in space were identified --- and those tracks were found to be orientated celestially in any of four precisely defined ways. Key navigational reference points on the Earth’s equator were also identified, as were the pre-set angular speed of transit and the East-to-West direction of the approaching (albeit hypothetical) delivery and retrieval spacecraft.

The four celestial orientations, plus the other characteristics just described, opened up the possibility that the timings of future events at any location beneath the favoured tracks, might be predictable. If this were to be tested by data not already in the database, then a positive result would, also, prove the validity of the global theory. A PC database was then created and special programs written to facilitate this proving work. Almost 900 test cases later, the Theory must now be considered to be well and truly proven. In addition, direct observation groups, using the timing predictions, are reporting very high success rates.

2. Further observations and development

The four celestial orientations, mentioned above, consisted of two sets of spacecraft approach, or departure, tracks fixed relative to the stars; and two other sets connected with the Earth’s terminator, either at Sunrise or at Sunset. These latter sets moved round the sky, following the Sun, during any year.

Close scrutiny of ten Close Encounter cases (which had also involved reported encounters with alien creatures) revealed that, during the days of those occurrences (1952 - 1988), major planets were positioned in the sky such that they were aligned with at least one set of star-related tracks. This led to the speculation that perhaps the planets (and, possibly, the Moon) were being used as navigational markers to facilitate the trips to and from the Earth. Clearly, much more processing would be required to check whether this feature was present on all other significant occasions. Furthermore, it raised the question of whether similar alignments would be found for the Sunrise and Sunset tracks.

The need to know where the sunrise and sunset orientated tracks intersected the Ecliptic Plane (the plane in space in which the Sun appears to move during a year, and which is approximately shared with the major planets) created more work. It was realised that the Sun-related tracks model, derived from the processing of the original data, linked those tracks directly with the Sun only at the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes. In fact, the defined tracks were keyed to the celestial meridian passing through the intersection of the terminator and the northern-most point on a 53 inclined track, on any day of the year. A program then had to be created to calculate where the 53 sunrise and sunset tracks intersected the Ecliptic, before work could commence on the planetary alignments exercise. Tracks with other inclinations to the equator would then intersect the Ecliptic to the left or right of the nominal 53 intersection position in the sky, within a range of displacements of approximately +/- 1.0h of Right Ascension (R.A.).

3. The Pilot Study

When the ‘stand-alone’ program had been written and tested, it was incorporated into the Correlated Tracks Database programs for each decade from 1950 onwards. Trial runs were then carried out for the years 1957, 1977, 1990-93 and 1995.

This choice was made to explore the effects of noticeable movements of the outer planets over the overall timescale and the year-to-year effects of changes in the positions of the inner planets. The search for aligned planets was carried out in the following way:-

Firstly, the program was run so that every track serving a UFO event (ie. that had been found to correlate with the timing of that event) was processed again. If that track had been identified as being linked, say, to the sunset terminator, then the azimuth intersection (R.A.) of a sunset-related track with the Ecliptic was printed out. The Opposition intersection position in the sky was also output. This procedure was followed for tracks with any of the other three orientations.

Next, using the output data from this program, commercial astronomical software (Expert Astronomer) had to be run and searched, visually, for planets and other solar system bodies lying in the intersection zones on the day and year of each UFO event, for each of the years given above. This turned out to be a long, tedious and testing exercise.

The numbers of processed and correlated UFO events for the chosen years, and the number of associated astro-links, were as tabulated below:-

In this table, the activity days apply only to those cases which were found to have astro-links associated with the tracks identified by the previous processing. ‘Cases without astro-links’ gives the number of cases excluded and not affecting the figures given in the rest of the table.

The number of track orientations always exceeds the number of qualifying processed cases, because the program tries to identify two tracks per event --- a closely-correlating track, which could be a delivery or retrieval track, and another track possibility within one hour of the reported time, which could have played a complementary role. The number of possible links with solar system bodies (astro-links) generally exceeds the number of track orientations because, on a considerable number of occasions, Conjunctions and Oppositions were indicated. This influence on the totals was, to some extent, offset whenever several events had occurred on the same day and had shared common astro-links.

After having processed all 274 track orientations and identified 333 alignments with solar system bodies, the next problem was to decide how to interpret the results. A table, listing all the correlated bodies and giving the number of times a given body had been aligned with each of the four track orientations, seemed to offer the most easily-understood presentation. It is presented here as Table 2.

4. Interpretation of Table 2

The four Track Orientations are given as headings - 11:00h RA, 21:30h RA , Sunrise and Sunset, respectively. Each heading has below it a column for each of the seven years considered - seven columns altogether, for each orientation. The list of solar system bodies, down the left-hand side, is a complete list of all objects found to be in, or approximately in, alignment with the tracks. To be considered to be in Close alignment, a body had to be within approximately 0.3h RA (4.5, azimuth) of the target position. Bodies being situated further away from the target position were allowed to be up to 1.0h (15, azimuth) displaced, especially, if the track inclination was other than 53, but they were usually well within those limits.

Referring to the totals given in the table, the outstanding ones are shown underlined. They may be underlined because, either, the numbers of occurrences were large, or, the number of ‘Close’ alignments was a high percentage of the total for a particular body.

The Moon seemed to have been referenced in all track orientations, with a total number of 22 references throughout the years considered.

The Sun had been aligned only for 21:30h and Sunset orientations.

Mercury had been referenced 29 times, but mostly by 21:30h and Sunset tracks.

Venus showed up in all orientations, but with 11:00h RA tracks being the least often aligned.

Mars seems to have been referenced mostly by 21:30h RA and Sunset tracks; Jupiter by all but Sunrise tracks and was favoured by Sunset tracks.

Saturn had been referenced only by Sunset tracks.

Uranus was least referenced by Sunrise tracks. It was linked with 21:30h tracks 11 times during 1977. (NB. That total does not only reflect the almost-stationary position of Uranus in the sky during any given year. It also reflects the number of times a 21:30h track was identified with the events of that year.) The total number of references (27) is considered to be significant. Neptune features only marginally for all orientations.

Pluto, although having only one Close reference, nevertheless featured 18 times.

The most unexpected outcome of this exercise turned out to be the many times that minor planets and comets were found in close alignments. The minor planets Ceres , Pallas, Vesta and Juno, were all featured, Pallas being of least significance. Ceres was referenced in 1977 and 1993 by all but 11:00h RA orientated tracks and, overall, featured 18 times, 11 of those references being close alignments. Vesta had been referenced 16 times in total during four of the selected seven years, linked only to 11:00h RA and Sunset tracks. Juno featured during six of the seven years, variously, in all orientations. It was referenced 26 times, 17 of those being in the ‘Close’ category.

During scanning with the astronomical software, a number of well-known comets seem to feature often in the target areas of the sky, Gale being the one most frequently signalled. It featured during the years 1957, 1977 , 1992 and 1993, and 33 alignments were noted. 28 of those were ‘Close’ alignments, of which 19 were accumulated during 1993 and were linked to tracks with 21:30h RA orientations. Of the remaining six comets referenced, Hartley2 seemed to have featured most often, but only with 21:30h RA and Sunset orientations. It had featured in scans for every year, except 1990. A total count of 22 alignments, with 12 in the ‘Close’ category, made this comet’s presence difficult to dismiss.

5. Assessment

5.1  Important Considerations

The results of this study have to be assessed taking account of the degree of probabillity of track alignment with each of the solar system bodies highlighted. There are two considerations, viz. whether the tracks considered are fixed in space or move with the Sun during the course of any year and, also, the direction and rate of movement of the aligned body.

With the exception of Pluto, the major and minor planets move along paths close to that followed by the Sun. Mercury and Venus, being closer to the Sun than Earth, appear to move round the sky with the Sun. The planet Mars, the Minor Planets (in the Asteroid Belt), Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto appear, from the Earth, to travel through only limited zones of the sky during the course of any year. Whilst Mars, being the closest of these, moves through approximately one-third of the sky, the apparent movement of the others gets progressively less with increasing distance from the Sun. The latter three (outermost) planets are so distant that they appear to be virtually fixed against the background of stars during any given year.

Comets have less well defined orbits, which are usually very elongated ellipses, and the frequency of their appearance depends on how often they sweep close enough to the Sun to produce their characteristic visible plumes of vapour and dust. Their orbits are generally inclined relative to the paths of the Sun and planets in the Ecliptic Plane. The astronomical software used in this exercise gives the predicted position of each of the long-established comets on any given day of each year, whether or not that comet is close enough to display a visible plume. It does not take account of more recently identified comets, such as Hale-Bopp. This means that, if the comets are genuinely linked with outbreaks of UFO activity, the picture presented here is far from being complete.

Following onto the close approach of Hale-Bopp, a JPL photographic analyst discovered that a sequence of Hubble Telescope photographs of the comet seemed to show that it had had several highly-mobile small companions during that short period of time. As these supposed fragmentary ‘satellites’ of the comet did not appear on any other photographs taken, their reality has not been accepted by cometary experts (Ref. 7.2).

One of the asteroids (or Minor Planets) called Ida also featured in Ref. 7.2. A photograph taken by the space probe Galileo shows the 35 miles long, potato-shaped, asteroid to be in possession of a small spherical companion. It has been assumed to be a satellite of Ida and has been labelled ‘Dactyl’. It remains to be seen whether Dactyl is still accompanying Ida or whether the recording of their association was (possibly) an important fluke.

5.2  Possible Implications of the Results

The above considerations serve to demonstrate that extreme caution must be exercised when attempting to assess the possible implications of the results of this study. However, it is also important to remember that this Pilot Study was undertaken as a first exploratory step towards the general validation, or negation, of indicators provided by ten Close Encounter cases, which were recorded during the period 1952 - 1988. Those indicators were alignments of planets and, sometimes, the Moon with the fixed (star-orientated) tracks which seemed to feature on the days of those ‘high-strangeness’ reports that had involved unidentifiable craft accompanied, sometimes, by alien creatures.

The processed events database used for this study is a general record of all high-strangeness UFO events gathered from the period 1950-1999, many of which do not fall into the same category as those providing the initial indicators. In fact, relatively few of the events processed involved alien creature reports or the prolonged period of amnesia which characterised those of the initial set. However, they have all qualified for inclusion in the database because they have been found to correlate well within the constraints of the Astronautical Theory. They include, for example, everything from Close Encounters with craft (whether or not alien creatures were involved), reports of aerial discs , saucers, triangles, etc., and inexplicable lights-in-the-sky reports.

Given such a wide-ranging set of data, it has to be acknowledged that some of the reports may be invalid and only correlated well with the Theory by accident --- so, some allowance must be made for this possibility. In view of the general success in finding alignments during this exercise, it might be permissible to surmise that only the seven exceptional events were invalid data --- but the validity of the other correlating events must first be assessed before that conclusion can be drawn. The Table 2 results will now be considered in some detail.


The Moon

The Moon moves round the sky once every lunar month and, consequently, comes into conjunction and opposition (R.A.alignment) with each of the other planets and minor planets twice per month. It also cuts through each track line twice every 28 days. This means that the chances of lunar alignments, both with tracks and with other solar system bodies, are very high. In view of this fact, it is quite surprising to find alignments with the Moon featuring so little in Table 2. This might mean that we can regard lunar alignments as being of little consequence; but when 15 out of the 22 identified alignments were of the ‘Close’ variety, this is a difficult conclusion to draw. The best assessment seems to be that the position of the Moon may, at times, be referenced for navigational purposes.

The Sun

The Sun appears to move once round the sky each year and, in doing so, passes through each of the star-related track sets twice during its annual journey. It aligns exactly with the sunrise and sunset tracks only at the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes and between those dates is only in approximate alignment, if at all. This state of affairs is reflected in Table 2. 8 of the 12 (all good) alignments were associated with the 21:30h tracks. This seems to have been a significant result since Sun alignments occurred in all but two of the seven years considered. It seems to imply that the Sun may be used as an aiming point from some distant source in the sky which is aligned with the 21:30h RA set of tracks.


Mercury revolves round the Sun approximately three times during each Earth year. This means that the planet is in conjunction with the Sun approximately six times per year - leading to the same number of times per year when it might share track alignments with the Sun. This could account for the 9 approximate alignments with 21:30h RA tracks recorded. Being often displaced some short distance from the Sun, Mercury could be expected, also, to align frequently and equally with sunrise and sunset tracks. Table 2 shows that it appears, overwhelmingly, to have been aligned with sunset-orientated tracks for all the seven years - which must be considered to be a significant result.


Venus comes into conjunction with the Sun once per year and at other times is situated on either side of it, to the East or to the West. Therefore, it is ideally placed to align with sunrise and sunset tracks at dates between the equinoxes. Being linked with the Sun, it may also align with the star-related track sets four (or more) times per year. Table 2 shows that Venus had lived up to these expectations. The overall count of 20 close alignments, out of a total of 24, indicates that this planet could feature from time-to-time in the navigational procedures adopted.


Being one of the outer planets, with an orbital period round the Sun of just less than two Earth years, the variations in its apparent motion among the stars, from Earth,are quite large. The positioning from year to year is progressively different. The possibilities of alignment with the, fixed, star-related tracks and/or the sunrise and sunset-related tracks might vary from year to year. Table 2 shows that 21:30h RA tracks had referenced it 7 times out of 15, with 6 of those being close alignments. These events occurred during years 1957, 1990, 1991 and 1993. Presumably Mars did not occupy the alignment positions for this fixed orientation during the remaining years. The fact that the planet was referenced so few times by the terminator-related tracks (Sunrise and Sunset) seems to imply that, unlike Mercury and Venus, it has not been favoured for activities linked to those tracks.


This brilliant planet takes almost twelve Earth years to travel once round the Sun. During a typical year its position in the sky, when viewed from Earth, varies by only 2.0h RA, approximately --- which means that only very occasionally, as years pass, it will align with the fixed star-related tracks. However, it could align with terminator track options, once or twice per year. Given these circumstances, the alignments with Jupiter shown by Table 2 must be regarded as being probably significant. Strangely, although it shows up very well in the Sunset columns, references to it are completely absent from those for Sunrise-tracks.


Like Jupiter, Saturn is one of the big visual targets in the Solar System and, therefore, it could be expected to be used for navigational purposes whenever it aligned with any of the four track options identified. Unfortunately, Saturn’s period round the Sun is almost 30 Earth years --- so this planet moves through even less of the sky per year than Jupiter.

Alignments with any of the star-related tracks during only one year could be regarded as being fortuitous, rather than significant. The Table 2 record shows that Saturn featured only as a Sunset-related marker for five of the 7 years examined, and not very significantly.


Uranus moves round the Sun once every 84 years. During any year, its motion in the sky is less than 0.5h RA. The comments made about Saturn apply equally-well here. Table 2 shows that it aligned with identified 11:00h RA tracks during 1957, 1990 and 1991, for a total of 9 times, 5 of those being in the ‘Close’ category. It was also referenced by 21:30h RA tracks 11 times during 1977 - and 10 of those were close alignments. Its links with the terminator tracks, given their greater opportunities for encountering the planet, seem to be incidental.


Neptune takes almost 165 years to move round the Sun - so, in any year it seems to be almost stationary in the sky against the fixed stars. In recent years Neptune and Uranus have been situated close to each other in the sky - therefore, both planets might have been expected to have been referenced in, more or less, equal numbers of times throughout the period 1990-1995. This seems to have been borne out by the results. Overall, Neptune has not been referenced appreciably.


This planet follows a highly eccentric orbit round the Sun. The orbit is inclined at 17.2 to the Ecliptic Plane and the path followed by Pluto cuts across the orbit of Neptune. The period of rotation round the Sun is some 248 years. Pluto is also a small target for navigational purposes, having a diameter which is only about five-eighths the diameter of the Earth. Nevertheless, it could have been referenced 18 times, even though only once, closely. Its involvement is problematical.



This is the largest of the Minor Planets in the Asteroid Belt. It has a diameter of 760 km. and orbits the Sun every 4.6 years. The orbit’s inclination to the Ecliptic is 10.6. Being so small, it is not an obvious visual beacon to aid astronavigation, so its alignments with the celestially-defined UFO activity tracks might be only incidental. Even so, as Table 2 shows, it was signalled 18 times, 11 of those being close alignments, for three of the four track orientations, the exception being 11:00h RA. This raises the question as to whether the smaller bodies of the Solar System are sometimes used as convenient and suitably-aligned staging points on journeys to and from Earth, an idea which seems to be substantiated by all that follows.


Pallas, the joint-second largest minor planet, has a period of 4.61 years and an orbit inclination of 34.8. Perhaps its very inclined orbit was responsible for its not being signalled significantly during this exercise.


Vesta has the same diameter as Pallas, but being closer to the Sun, it has an orbital period of 3.63 years. The inclination of the orbit is only 7.1 relative to the Ecliptic Plane - and this could have had some influence on the results obtained for it in Table 2. It was aligned 16 times, but only 7 of those were close alignments. However, 6 of the latter were recorded for Sunset-tracks from the total of 9 for the set with that orientation, which could indicate that Vesta was found to be a useful staging point for such operations during 1957, 1977, 1993 and 1995.


This is the smallest of the referenced minor planets, having a diameter of only 200 km. The inclination of the orbit is 13 and the period is 4.36 years. Juno was referenced 26 times during this study, variously for all orientations, and there were 17 close alignments. The fact that it was found to be in alignment with Sunset tracks 13 times during 1993 and twice during 1995, seems to indicate, as with Vesta, a preference for its use as a staging point for Sunset-orientated operations.


Comets, whether or not displaying plumes, being very small targets, figured unexpectedly in the alignments registered. The frequent referencing of some of those considered below can be, perhaps, only regarded as further indications that they may be used as convenient staging points, as has been speculated, previously, in Para. 5.1. The long-term comets follow very elongated orbits which are inclined steeply to the Ecliptic Plane. Their points of origin seem to lie somewhere within the plane of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Given these circumstances, to be found among track-alignment bodies close to the Ecliptic, a comet has to be close to cutting the Ecliptic whilst following its inclined path round the Sun. The number of times this occurs in a given period of years will depend on the orbital period of that comet. Since the long-term comets have periods of between 10 and more-than 100 years, they cut through the Ecliptic at intervals of years which are half their orbital periods. In such circumstances it could be expected that the chances against any comet aligning with the fixed star-related track orientations on the Ecliptic Plane would be very high. The terminator-linked tracks, which effectively sweep all round the sky in any year, might be expected to fare better, but the presence of a comet close to the Ecliptic would be the prerequisite feature. The alignments of the comets listed in Table 2 are considered below.


This comet had 22 alignments, 12 ‘Close’, registered during the seven years (thirty-eight years’ time-span) considered, a surprisingly large number. It seems to be a strange coincidence that it was found to align with 21:30h RA tracks during 1957, 1977, 1991 and 1992 - and with Sunset tracks during all years except 1957 and 1990. Some of these alignments can be attributed to the opposition of the comet to the Sun in intervening years, but the number of counts is still quite remarkable.


The results for this comet cannot be considered to be significant.


Encke scored highly with terminator-linked tracks but, during any of the chosen years, did not align with the star-linked ones. From Table 2, it showed up especially-well with the Sunrise-linked tracks and, overall, was aligned during the years 1957, 1977, 1991, 1993 and 1995.


During the astronomical software scans, Gale featured frequently, especially during scans for 1993. With the 21:30h RA orientated tracks it featured 19 times. Table 2 shows this to have been a significant percentage (46%) of the total of all 41 alignments with that orientation registered for that year. To add to the possible significance of this comet, it also scored 6 (close) 11:00h RA alignments and 3 Sunset ones during 1977. The overall score of 33 was the highest recorded for any of the qualifying bodies, and it was accumulated during the years 1957, 1977, 1992 and 1993.


Machholz logged up a score of 9 alignments overall, only 4 of which could be categorised as being ‘close’. It performed best as an 11:00h RA marker during the years 1977, 1992 and 1993 --- which may be of some significance.


The results for this famous comet were not remarkable, other than that 2 of its 3 terminator track alignments were of the ‘close’ variety.

6. Overall Review and Conclusion

As the discussions in Para 5.2 have adequately demonstrated, this is a difficult exercise to assess. The overall result (Table 2) has demonstrated that the reported events, over the period of years considered, have definitely favoured the track orientations 21:30h RA (106 counts) and Sunset (126 counts). The favoured solar system bodies for the former orientation are shown to have been the Sun, Venus, Mars and, occasionally, the Moon. Alignments with the outer planets can only occur when those slow-moving bodies are in the required zones of the Ecliptic, but there are some indications that they may be referenced in those circumstances. (This applies equally to 11:00h RA tracks.)

During Sunset-orientated operations, it seems that all the major bodies may have been referenced from time to time, as might be expected, and Mercury seems to have figured largely, with 12 close alignments out of 17 in total. Strangely, Mercury was referenced only once as a Sunrise-related marker, so this seems to point towards there being a significant bias.

The overall bias against the Sunrise-related option, which Table 2 clearly reveals, is the result of that option’s not being signalled very frequently during the initial event-processing stage. That applies, similarly, to the smaller numbers of 11:00h RA links than those for the 21:30h RA orientation. But, even so, the evidence suggests that alignment with planets could be generally arbitrary in both Sunrise and 11:00h RA operations --- even though Venus showed up well as a Sunrise option.

The featuring of minor planets and comets in this exercise raises the question as to whether such bodies might feature regularly in the operations being investigated --- and, if so, are some of them ‘preferred’ bodies. Since they are not necessarily good visual markers, it has been suggested in Section 5 that they might be used as convenient and aligned staging points on journeys to and from Earth. Transient photographic evidence of small companions associated with the asteroid Ida and Comet Hale-Bopp might provide support for that idea.


In summary, the pilot study just described has provided ample evidence that the positioning of solar system bodies could play a key navigational role during some of the surveillance operations being carried out from extra-terrestrial sources. It has also given insights about the bodies that have been most favoured for the various operations. These insights may help to indicate, during any year, which track orientations are likely to be adopted and so aid the use of the timing predictions graphs already in widespread use. The overall rules so far discovered do not help with Sunrise and 11:00h RA predictions, but should help improve 21:30h RA and Sunset predictions, by indicating which days of any year can be regarded as being favourable for direct observation work all over the world.

©1999 T. R. Dutton

7. References

7.1  J. Allen Hynek "The UFO Experience - A Scientific Inquiry"
Abelard-Schuman Ltd, 1972

7.2  ASTRONOMY (magazine) - August, 1998

7.3  S. Alan Stern Southwest Research Institute

7.4  "Baby Bopps?" p.24

7.5  William K. Hartmann - "The Great Solar System Revision" - p.44

Global UFO Activity
A Study of Tactical Techniques

T.R. Dutton - Lake Ontario Analysis