In ufology, a close encounter is an event in which a person witnesses an unidentified flying object (UFO). This terminology and the system of classification behind it were first suggested in astronomer and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek's 1972 book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry.[1] Categories beyond Hynek's original three have been added by others but have not gained universal acceptance, mainly because they lack the scientific rigor that Hynek aimed to bring to ufology.[2]

Sightings more than 150 metres (500 ft) from the witness are classified as daylight discs, nocturnal lights or radar/visual reports.[3] Sightings within about 150 metres (500 ft) are subclassified as various types of close encounters. Hynek and others argued that a claimed close encounter must occur within about 150 metres (500 ft) to greatly reduce or eliminate the possibility of misidentifying conventional aircraft or other known phenomena.[4]

Hynek's scale became well known after being referenced in a 1977 film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is named after the third level of the scale. Promotional posters for the film featured the three levels of the scale, and Hynek himself makes a cameo appearance near the end of the film.

Hynek's scale edit

Hynek devised a sixfold classification for UFO sightings.[5][6] They are arranged according to increasing proximity:

Nocturnal lights

Lights in the night sky.[7]

Daylight discs

UFOs seen in the daytime, generally having discoidal or oval shapes.[8]


UFO reports that have radar confirmation—these supposedly try to offer harder evidence that the objects are real, although radar propagation can be occasionally discredited due to atmospheric propagation anomalies.[9]

Close encounters of the first kind (CE1)

Visual sightings of an unidentified flying object, seemingly less than 500 feet (150 m) away, that show an appreciable angular extension and considerable detail.[10]

Close encounters of the second kind (CE2)

A UFO event in which a physical effect is alleged; this can be interference in the functioning of a vehicle or electronic device, animals reacting, a physiological effect such as paralysis or heat and discomfort in the witness, or some physical trace like impressions in the ground, scorched or otherwise affected vegetation, or a chemical trace.[10]

Close encounters of the third kind (CE3)

UFO encounters in which an animated entity is present—these include humanoids, robots, and humans who seem to be occupants or pilots of a UFO.[11]

Bloecher subtypes edit

UFO researcher Ted Bloecher proposed six subtypes for the close encounters of the third kind in Hynek's scale:[12]

  1. Aboard: an entity is observed only inside the UFO.
  2. Both: an entity is observed inside and outside the UFO.
  3. Close: an entity is observed near to a UFO, but not going in or out.
  4. Direct: an entity is observed—no UFOs are seen by the observer, but UFO activity has been reported in the area at about the same time.
  5. Excluded: an entity is observed, but no UFOs are seen and no UFO activity has been reported in the area at that time.
  6. Frequence: no entity or UFOs are observed, but the subject experiences some sort of "intelligent communication".

Extensions of Hynek's scale edit

Close encounters of the fourth kind (CE4)

A close encounter of the fourth kind is a UFO event in which a human is abducted by a UFO or its occupants.[13] This type was not included in Hynek's original close encounters scale.[14]

Hynek's former associate Jacques Vallée argued in the Journal of Scientific Exploration that the fourth kind should refer to "cases when witnesses experienced a transformation of their sense of reality", to also include non-abduction cases where absurd, hallucinatory or dreamlike events are associated with UFO encounters.[15][unreliable source?]

The film The Fourth Kind makes reference to this category.

Close encounters of the fifth kind (CE5)

A close encounter of the fifth kind refers to human-initiated contact with extraterrestrial life forms or advanced interstellar civilizations, claiming direct communication between aliens and humans.[13] Close Encounters of the fifth kind (ce5) was first coined by Steven M. Greer.[16]

In a CE5 event, individuals or groups use specific protocols to establish communication or interaction with extraterrestrial beings. These protocols primarily involve the use of contact meditation and use of sounds or signals. Close encounters of the fifth kind is also referred to as human initiated close encounter.[17]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Hynek, Allen J. (1998) [First published 1972]. The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-1-56924-782-2.
  2. ^ Clark, Jerome (1998). The UFO Book. Detroit: Visible Ink Press.
  3. ^ Hynek, 1972, 1998, p. 6
  4. ^ Hynek, 1972, 1998, p. 20; see also the program UFO Hunters episode "Alien Contact" aired on 23 April 2008 on the History Channel.
  5. ^ Steven J. Dick (28 December 1999). The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science. Cambridge University Press. pp. 309–. ISBN 978-0-521-66361-8. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  6. ^ Goldsmith, Donald; Tobias C. Owen (April 2001). The search for life in the universe. University Science Books. pp. 521–. ISBN 978-1-891389-16-0. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  7. ^ J. Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry, Ballantine Books, 1972, p. 41.
  8. ^ J. Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry, Ballantine Books, 1972, p. 59.
  9. ^ J. Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry, Ballantine Books, 1972, pp. 80-1.
  10. ^ a b J. Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry, Ballantine Books, 1972, pp. 98-9.
  11. ^ J. Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry, Ballantine Books, 1972, p. 158.
  12. ^ Hendry, Allan (August 1979). The UFO Handbook: A Guide to Investigating, Evaluating and Reporting UFO Sightings. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-14348-6.
  13. ^ a b "What're close encounters of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth kind?" S.P.S. Jain. The Times of India. 22 March 2003. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  14. ^ The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry. 1972. ISBN 978-1-56924-782-2.
  15. ^ Vallee, Jacques. "Physical Analysis in Ten Cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Material Samples Archived 2010-07-06 at the Wayback Machine." 1998. Journal of Scientific Exploration. Vol. 12, No. 3., pp. 359-375. URL accessed 23 August 2009
  16. ^ Greer, Steven M. (1999). Extraterrestrial Contact: The Evidence and Implications. Crossing Point Inc. ISBN 0-967-32380-0.
  17. ^ Hernandez J.D., Reinerio; Schild, Rudy; Klimo, Jon (2018). Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness & Contact with Non Human Intelligence (Volume One). The Dr. Edgar Mitchell FREE Foundation. ISBN 1-548-72116-6.