President Jimmy Carter’s Sighting of a UFO

I hadn’t heard of this until Kucinich mentioned it at the debate:

President Jimmy Carter’s widely-reported “UFO sighting,” which he made public while Governor of Georgia, was in fact a misidentification of the planet Venus. Several errors of identification within Mr. Carter’s report demonstrate that the eyewitness testimony of even a future president of the United States cannot be taken at face value when investigating UFO sightings.

The incident occurred in Leary, Georgia, about forty miles from Plains, on the evening of January 6, 1969. Mr. Carter was the local district governor of the Lion’s Club, and had come to Leary to boost the local chapter. While standing outdoors at approximately 7:15 pm, waiting for the Lion’s Club meeting to begin, Mr. Carter reported seeing a single “self-luminous” object, “as bright as the moon,” which reportedly approached and then receded several times. Mr. Carter reports that his “UFO” was in the western sky, at about 30 degrees elevation. This almost perfectly matches the known position of Venus, which was in the west-southwest at an altitude of 25 degrees. Weather records show that the sky was clear at the time of the sighting.

No other object generates as many UFO reports as the planet Venus. Venus is not as bright as the moon, nor does it actually approach the viewer, or change size and brightness, but descriptions like these are typical of misidentifications of a bright planet. Every time Venus reaches its maximum brilliance in the evening sky, hundreds of “UFO sightings” of this type are made. At the time of the Carter UFO sighting, Venus was a brilliant evening star, nearly one hundred times brighter than a first-magnitude star.

(via Bad Astronomy)

What’s The Scariest Novel You’ve Read?

I always felt like this was a bit of a tricky question since there were plenty of books that scared me when I was younger but no longer would. So I’m never sure if I should give an answer to something I was recently scared reading or something that just scared the daylights out of me at any point in my life. So I’ll answer it both ways.

I remember reading The Haunting of Hill House back in middle school and not being able to sleep for a long time after. I don’t really remember being particularly scared of any Edgar Allen Poe stories but in awe of the way he so easily set moods. And The Shining was by far Stephen King’s scariest book. Helter Skelter was easily one of the scariest non-fic books I’ve read.

Books or stories about supernatural happenings no longer scare me. In fact, I think the last book that I read which was good enough to give me a fright was I Am Legend which I read a few months ago for the first time. The scary part of the story isn’t really the vampires, but the terror of facing an ordeal totally alone. I’ve noticed the movie has given the main character a dog as a companion which defeats the underlying theme of the book although I’m guessing they put the dog in as a device to which he can direct his thoughts.

So Cynics, what’s the scariest book you’ve read?