The Fascination Behind Comets and UFO’s — Elenin versus Hale-Bopp

One of the most interesting things we here at Common Sense Conspiracy have noticed during the past several months of intense speculation about the comet Elenin’s approach is the striking similarities it shares with another

Comet Hale-Bopp was a celestial event for the ages, much more impressive than Elenin.

famous comet, Hale-Bopp.  Dubbed the “Great Comet of 1997,” Hale-Bopp was one of the brightest ever seen.  In fact, it was visible by naked eye for a staggering eighteen days.  Like Elenin, it was discovered by amateur astronomers in 1995.  The names of these two skywatchers is the name of the comet.  To illustrate just how much these guys were amateurs, consider that Bopp didn’t even own a telescope.  Bopp found the comet by viewing it with the naked eye and then comparing it to star charts to eventually conclude that it was indeed a comet.  Astronomers quickly did the math on Hale-Bopp and determined that it would reach perihelion (the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Sun) on April 1st, 1997.  It was predicted that the comet would be exceptionally bright, and when the day of reckoning arrived, Hale-Bopp exceeded expectations.

A plotting of Hale-Bopp's orbit approaching perihelion.

Like Elenin today, the two years between Hale-Bopp’s discovery and the date of perihelion were met with much paranoia.  The year after it was discovered, another amateur astronomer, Chuck Shramek of Houston, Texas, studied the comet extensively and eventually took a CCD (charge-coupled device) image of it.  CCD digital imaging is a major development in this technology that allows much more exposure of light in a photograph than normal equipment.  The results set off a wave of hysteria; the comet was accompanied by an elongated object.  Shramek used computer programs to cross-check this finding with star maps and found it to be an unknown object travelling along with comet Hale-Bopp.  He then proceeded to call in to the Coast to Coast AM radio show (a program that frequently deals with subject matter such as this) and reported to a national listening audience the presence of a “Saturn-like” object tagging along with the comet.  Much like today’s adventures with Elenin, the UFO community quickly pounced on the finding and declared that an alien spacecraft was accompanying the comet dangerously close to Earth.

Also similar to Elenin was the rebuttals of this claim.  Many well-known, qualified astronomers contested Shramek’s findings, citing that there was indeed a star in that location and that the amateur astronomer’s computer programs were simply not calibrated correctly.  Art Bell, the host of the Coast to Coast AM radio show, fueled the fire by claiming that he had concrete evidence and even a photograph of whatever was alongside Hale-Bopp.  At the height of the hysteria as the comet approached in March of 1997, a cult called Heaven’s Gate committed a mass suicide apparently revolving around their beliefs that through dying they would be teleported to the alien spacecraft.  The religious cult already believed that the Earth was about to be wiped clean and started anew, and when the comet theories began, they full-on accepted this as the moment they had been waiting for.  39 people committed suicide simultaneously just a month before the comet would pass perihelion without incident.  According to the leader of Heaven’s Gate, the only way they could escape the mass extinction that was about to occur was to kill themselves before it happened.

Thankfully, there have been no mass suicides attributed to the comet Elenin (so far at least), but it does bring up an interesting case study about this apparently repeating behavior.  Why do these comets, like Hale-Bopp and

Medical examiners remove the body of Wayne Cooke, the leader of Heaven's Gate who committed suicide separately from the cult on May 6, 1997.

Elenin, that pass relatively close to us in astronomical terms, incite so much pandemonium.  Twice now history has repeated itself.  While Elenin is not going to be anywhere near as spectacular as Hale-Bopp was in 1997 at its brightest, still the UFO community continues to latch onto comets as the preferred method of an alien civilization travelling to our solar system.

The best guess we at Common Sense Conspiracy can present after looking at tons of data regarding both comets is that people think that since comets are somewhat mysterious and come from deep space that it is a likely mode of travel for extraterrestrials to visit our celestial neck of the woods.  However, the physics behind this are terrible.  For example, let’s look at it from the opposite perspective.  Let’s suppose that Earth had the technology to piggy-back on one of these comets as they passed and use its gravitational field to tow it along on a interstellar journey.  It’s a great concept and fun to think about.  However, there are some problems that still make it very unrealistic.  While tagging along with a comet like Elenin might take a manned spacecraft for one hell of a ride, the realities of space travel remain in place.  The distance between us and the nearest star is just too far to make it reasonable.  No human would live long enough to get to the destination, and a return trip would be unthinkable.

Flip the logic.  So, for an extraterrestrial civilization to have the ability to latch onto a comet such as Elenin or Hale-Bopp and use it as a motor to propel it to worlds such as our own, they would also have had to figure out how to stop the aging process so that those along for the ride might survive long enough to get here.  Or they would have had to figure out a way to travel faster than the speed of light themselves, leaving them no real reason to need a comet to provide their engine in the first place.  Others try to insinuate that they might be using the comet as a camouflage to invade our solar system behind a natural phenomena so as to intrude without alarming us.  This is also ridiculous if you really think about it.  A civilization that advanced would surely have no qualms about us finding them out.  We here on Earth have developed all sorts of stealth flying techniques, and these are just limited to Earth travel.  Imagine in the vastness of space how even a huge UFO vessel would still be able to easily sneak up on us if it so wished.  In this scenario, the comet actually works against it, trumpeting their arrival.

Stay safe people.  We will get through this, and Common Sense Conspiracy will continue to be your lifeline to the facts.  In the meantime, we should all take a second to ask ourselves why this phenomenon keeps happening.

What is the fascination of UFO enthusiasts with these comets?  Please weigh in with your opinions.

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