Photo of barrage balloon from America from the Great Depression to World War II, at the Library of Congress.
Today in Odd History
UFOs Over Nuremberg (April 4, 1561)
Today in Odd History, an eerie battle raged in the skies above Nuremberg, Germany. It began at dawn, as dozens, if not hundreds, of crosses, globes and tubes fought each other above the city. It ended an hour later, when "the globes in the small and large rods flew into the sun," and several of the other objects crashed to earth and vanished in a thick cloud of smoke.
According to the Nuremberg Gazette, the "dreadful apparition" filled the morning sky with "cylindrical shapes from which emerged black, red, orange and blue-white spheres that darted about." Between the spheres, there were "crosses with the color of blood." This "frightful spectacle"was witnessed by "numerous men and women." Afterwards, a "black, spear-like object" appeared. The author of the Gazette warned that "the God-fearing will by no means discard these signs, but will take it to heart as a warning of their merciful Father in heaven, will mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that he avert His wrath, including the well-deserved punishment, on us, so that we may, temporarily here and perpetually there, live as His children." In the same year, a Lutheran clergyman on progress in Nuremberg wrote: "...God the Almighty has ... placed in the heavens many horrible and hitherto unheard of signs... We have seen far more signs now than in any other year. The sun and the moon have been darkened on a number of occasions. A crucifix in the sky was seen, as were biers and coffins with black men beside them. Further, rods and whips and many other signs were seen in a multitude of places... and scarcely a year has passed of late without an eclipse of the sun or moon..."
All across Europe, people were seeing strange things in the skies. In 1520, two burning suns were seen in Prussia, and a burning beam that landed, then rose into the air and became circular. A number of Renaissance paintings show discs and tubes and other objects hovering in the sky, some of them glowing with their own light. A student in Basel, Switzerland reported that just after dawn on August 7, 1566, "many large, black globes were seen in the air, moving before the sun at great speed and turning against each other as if fighting. Some of them became red and fiery and afterwards faded and went out."
Although many consider these accounts to be records of UFO activity, others seek more rational explanations for them.The Basel incident took place during the Perseid meteorshower; even some skeptics, however, wonder whether the Perseid could have produced such huge rocks that they would appear as "large, black globes." A 1591 woodcut from Nuremberg shows the aurora borealis shining above the city, much like the crosses and globes of the 1561 visitation. Ergot poisoning from the mold that grows on damp rye causes vivid hallucinations; it has been linked to the witch hysteria of the 15th century, which included sightings of witches riding their brooms across the sky. Ball lightning is often cited as the true cause of UFO events. Carl Jung, in his book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, calls UFO sightings visual rumorsvisible symbols of the collective unconscience. True believers, of course, accept them as evidence that we are not alone.
More about UFOs in history:
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