Comet Over City Is Just Balloon 

Source: Nashville (TN) Tennessean       January 8, 1948  (page unknown) 

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            The brilliant object seen late yesterday afternoon in the western sky directly above the sun was a balloon, according to Nashville astronomers and weathermen.

            The object, which puzzled local citizens and sent Nashville astronomers hurrying to their telescopes, was termed a balloon catching the sunlight by Dr. Carl K. Seyfert, astronomer at Vanderbilt university, after thorough examination. Weather bureau officials agreed with Seyfert’s diagnosis, but said it was not one of their balloons, while an observer from the WSM radio tower also expressed the opinion it was a balloon.

            Telephone calls to The Nashville Tennessean described the phenomenon as a round object which seemed to be made of glass. One man said it looked like a gold star and a woman said she had been watching it all afternoon and thought it was a glass disc.

            “Maybe another flying saucer,” she said.

            Several of the witnesses were of the opinion that the object, which gave off an extremely bright light, was composed of a glass-like substance. Others believed they had sighted a daylight comet.

            Seyfert said he at first believed it to be the planet Venus, which often is bright enough to be seen in daylight, and later also thought it was a comet. Observation through the telescope, however, showed a rope hanging from the object, which was bulbous at the top and narrowed to a fine point, and knots or small objects which might be weather instruments attached to the rope.

            Weather bureau officials said they send only a single balloon into the sky each morning about 8:30 or 9 a.m., which rises to a height of 60,000 feet, then bursts and drops the instruments to the ground. Weather balloons are not customarily pear-shaped and do not ordinarily remain at a uniform level, they said.

            L. E. Rawls, who saw the object through a telescope from the WSM  tower on Franklin road, said his telescope magnified it 100 times and there was no question as to its being a balloon.

            Rawls estimated the height to be about 6000 feet, but Seyfert said he thought it to be about five miles high.

            Latimer J. Wilson, local astronomer, expressed himself as undecided as to its true nature. He said it was shaped like an electric light bulb and seemed to be transparent. He said it turned yellow about 4:50 p.m., red at 5:05 p.m. and completely disappeared by 5:12 p.m.

            Other observers reported it was moving toward the south and southeast when last sighted, shortly after dark last night.

            Old superstitions were aroused, in addition to the revival of last summer’s talk of flying saucers, and many persons preferred to cling to metaphysical and mystical interpretations, rather than accept the “balloon” verdict.

            “Strange!” exclaimed some of the older folk, and when no satisfactory explanation for the balloon’s being there could be found, they added: “I thought so!”

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