the case of the legendary nuremberg ufo

Ufologists love to talk about the rumored alien battle over Nuremberg, Germany in 1561. But there's no evidence it actually happened or that the cited sources ever existed.

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Bad information tends to spread on the internet, especially when that bad information has an audience willing to believe it. In this case, it’s an alleged UFO battle in the skies of Nuremberg, Germany in April of 1561 which was witnessed by the entire town. Makes perfect sense when we consider the events in question. If there’s an alien armada having a brawl in the skies above my city, I’d go out to have a look. And probably take a camera with me. Of course there were no cameras in Renaissance Germany so all we have is a woodcut and vague accounts from the Gazette of the Town of Nuremberg…

…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.”

All right, you may be thinking, we have a woodcut and a published account from a historical source. What’s the problem? The first problem is the fact that a reference to the Gazette of the Town of Nuremberg doesn’t show up anywhere other than UFO and conspiracy sites. Most towns had some sort of official record documenting major events but they weren’t necessarily gazettes or newspapers, Actually, the first modern newspaper was printed in 1605, almost half a century after the incident. Before that, news were generally delivered by sheets or pamphlets with information intended for businessmen to help them in conducting commerce.

Having what sounds like a fully fledged newspaper with an official, localized title and a local news focus before publications like that were actually thought of sounds rather odd and gives us a clue why UFO and conspiracy cites are likely to cite it while there’s no reference to it anywhere else. There’s also a question about what the infamous woodcut by Hans Glaser really shows. While it’s attributed to the incident of 1561, the actual piece is usually dated to 1566 which would give plenty of time for exaggerations and legends to work they way into any unusual event Glaser may have heard of.

Finally, there are many examples of famous artwork which supposedly shows UFOs or alien spacecraft to our modern eyes, but are actually far more likely to be religious symbolism. To say that an artist’s work shows a UFO is a purely subjective judgment, especially when the art is as abstract as Glaser’s woodcut.

# astrobiology // alien contact / hans glaser / ufo / ufology


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