'Project Blue Book' season 1 episode 6: Are the 'green fireballs' meteors or is the UFO investigation getting murkier?
The new episode of Project Blue Book aims at debunking 'The Green Fireballs', but if you though those were mere meteors, we've got news for you!
Spoiler alert for 'Project Blue Book' season 1 episode 6: 'The Green Fireballs'
History's ongoing series 'Project Blue Book' has managed to garner a wide fanbase and ample rave reviews for mingling facts with nuanced fiction revolving around the titular real-life investigation that went on in the 50s. Following the story of Dr. J Allen Hynek (played by Aidan Gillen on the show), the series centers around the sudden uprising in reports of mysterious alien and UFO sightings that had gone on around the Washington DC area, and with each episode, viewers are treated to a real-life incident surrounding the investigation primarily undertaken by the US Air Force. This week it was time for 'The Green Fireballs', a 1948 phenomenon in New Mexico after multiple sightings of "flying green lights" were reported.
Soon the incident was debunked as celestial bodies and it was later documented that there was no such sighting recorded but something tells us these lights couldn't have been just meteors.
History's archives note the sightings' reports saying that the first time anything of the sort was noticed, it was by two different plane crews, with one of them even having to swerve the plane around as the green fireball seemed to come directly at the plane. One of the pilots later described the incident saying: "Take a soft ball and paint it with some kind of fluorescent paint that will glow a bright green in the dark… Then have someone take the ball out about 100 feet in front of you and about 10 feet above you. Have him throw the ball right at your face, as hard as he can throw it. That’s what a green fireball looks like."
The easy deduction from the sightings would be meteors, and that's what most experts deduced at the time, but there are pretty solid arguments stating why those weren't exactly meteors. First of all, it is the fact that meteors cannot change course, and neither are they bright green in appearance when seen from the Earth or even somewhere in flying periphery of the object. At the same time the now declassified files of the titular investigation, as revealed by History, states that "when a crew of intelligence officers, led by Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, head of the University of New Mexico’s Institute of Meteoritics, plotted the fireball’s flight path and scoured the area a meteorite would have hit, they found nothing—no meteor fragments, no debris, no craters, no evidence of fire."
So how can one explain what went on with these 'will-o'-the-wisp' randomly appearing in the night at around 2 am? From ionized ball lightings to Civil War spacecraft and nuclear fallout debris from the Second World War that had happened not so long ago, speculation and panic were rife with several of these different types of mysterious sightings in the sky going on at the same time. Physicist Dr. Stephen Hughes wrote in a paper that "sometimes when something shoots through the atmosphere, like a meteor, it could be creating a conductive pathway from the ionosphere—a whole ocean of plasma above the Earth—down to the ground. The air becomes electrified.” And this could have led to the oxygen getting ionized, thus inducing the green light.
At the same time, Edward J. Ruppelt, director of the U.S. Air Force Project Blue Book UFO investigations, and the same man on whom the current show's character Michael Malarkey (Michael Quinn) is loosely based on, wrote in his book 'The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects' (1953) that these balls were actually extraterrestrial probes by the US enemy, Russia, and were "projected into our atmosphere from a 'spaceship' hovering several hundred miles above the Earth."
Till date, much along the lines of History's 'Project Blue Book' showing Dr. Hynek trying to divulge the mystery behind these green fireballs, no conclusion has been found on the sightings from 1948; but at the same time, passing off the fireballs as mere meteors would definitely be wrong too!
'Project blue Book' airs on Tuesdays at 10/9c only on History.