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Spiders blamed for mass UFO sighting

Players and fans at a football (soccer) match were shocked and perplexed when a UFO moved slowly over the stadium.

This incident occurred back on October 27, 1954 in Florence, Italy. Ten thousand fans were packed into the Stadio Artemi Franchi for the match. Then, just after half time, the crowd fell silent as the unidentified object appeared over the stadium. Even the players stopped and gazed at the unusual aerial object.

One of those players, Ardico Magnini, recalls, “It was something that looked like an egg that was moving slowly, slowly, slowly. Everyone was looking up and also there was some glitter coming down from the sky, silver glitter.” He continues, “We were astonished we had never seen anything like it before. We were absolutely shocked.”

Other witnesses describe seeing multiple cigar-shaped UFOs that were “moving very fast and then they just stopped.”

Stadio Artemi Franchi. (Credit: Narayan89/Wikimedia Commons)

Stadio Artemi Franchi. (Credit: Narayan89/Wikimedia Commons)

“At the time the newspapers spoke of aliens from Mars,” says Roberto Pinotti, president of Italy’s National UFO Centre. “Of course now we know that is not so – but we may conclude that it was an intelligent phenomenon, a technological phenomenon and a phenomenon that cannot be linked with anything we know on Earth.”

The material witnesses saw falling from the sky when the UFO(s) were present is a strange sticky substance that has been reported in other UFO cases, and is most often referred to as “angel hair.” According to the BBC, multiple witnesses collected samples of this material and delivered it to the Institute of Chemical Analysis at the University of Florence. Spectrographic analysis revealed that it contained boron, silicon, calcium, and magnesium. Aside from its composition, researchers were unable to determine what it was.

But one person claims he can explain this “angel hair” stuff and the 1954 UFO sighting with one word: spiders.

James McGaha, astronomer and director of the Grasslands Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, comments, “When I looked at this case originally I thought perhaps it was a fireball, a very bright meteor breaking up in the atmosphere. They can be cigar-shaped with pieces breaking off. But it became fairly apparent that this was actually caused by young spiders spinning webs, very, very thin webs.” He explains that migrating spiders “use these webs as sails and they link together and you get a big glob of this stuff in the sky and the spiders ride on this to move between locations.”

James McGaha. (Credit: Grasslands Observatory)

James McGaha. (Credit: Grasslands Observatory)

McGaha is a noted skeptic who relishes the opportunity to explain away any and all UFO sightings, because, after all, the “UFO phenomenon is nothing but myth, magic and superstition,” according to him.

Pinotti disagrees with the spider theory for a variety of reasons. He points to the analysis done on the “angel hair.” The BBC points out, “Spider silk is a protein – an organic compound containing nitrogen, calcium, hydrogen and oxygen – not the elements reportedly found in the samples.” Philip Ball, a science writer and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, agrees that the spider theory is thin. “Magnesium and calcium are fairly common elements in living bodies, boron and silicon much less so – but if these were the main elements that the white fluff contained, it doesn’t sound to me as though they’d come from spiders,” he explains.

Oh. And then there were the 10,000 witnesses who watched the UFO(s) “moving very fast and then they just stopped.”

It’s unlikely that this sixty-year-old mass UFO sighting mystery will ever be definitively solved. And, based on witness testimony and scientific analysis, it’s also unlikely that spiders are a realistic possibility.

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About Jason McClellan

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Jason McClellan is a UFO journalist and the producer/co-host of the web series Spacing Out! He is also the web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and a co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. As a founding member of Open Minds, Jason served as a writer and editor for the now defunct Open Minds magazine. He has appeared on Syfy, NatGeo, and, most recently, he co-starred on H2's Hangar 1: The UFO Files. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook.

4 comments

  1. avatar

    You will never convince a skeptic there is anything in the UFO subject unless they are lucky enough to see one themselves, Mr Mgaha is very wrong in his assuptions that its all magic and myths, as I have been a witness on two occasions in the uk, and anyone will tell you that has seen them the memory never goes away!!

  2. avatar

    Back in the day, “angel hair” droppings were often associated with UFOs. When has a case like that been reported since the 1950s? Just another meme that’s gone out of fashion, I guess. Are the UFOs evolving or just our shared beliefs about them?

  3. avatar

    It’s very funny that skeptics are suddenly knowledgeble in everything that’s not their field of expertise, while they would climb in the highest tree when someone would unauthorised venture upon their own.
    Since when knows an astronomer about spiders? Isn’t that more like the field of biologists?
    Why don’t we simply laugh out loud at their pathetic ‘explanations’?

  4. avatar

    I LOVE WHEN GUYS LIKE MCGAHA JUST TOTALLY DISMISS THE PHENOMENON, IT’S JUST TOO WEIRD FOR THEIR STUFFINESS TO GET PAST SO RATHER THAN DISCOVER SOME UNCOMFORTABLE AND CLEARLY STRANGE CASES, JUST DO THE SCIENTIFIC THING AND DISMISS! SAD THAT MEN THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO ENDEAVOUR SCIENCE WITH UNBRIDLED CURIOSITY ARE SO SMOTHERED BY THEIR OWN INVISIBLE CONFORMITY THAT THEY

    AT THE SAME TIME, HOWEVER, IT’S NO WONDER SERIOUS SCIENTIFIC (MAINSTREAM) INQUIRY IS ABSENT…EVERYONE THAT HAS ANY LEVEL OF INTEREST IN THE PHENOMENON NEAR UNIVERSALLY TREATS THE SUBJECT AS ALMOST A SUBJECT THAT HAS ALREADY SOLVED ITSELF…UFO’S MUST BE NUTS & BOLTS CRAFT PILOTED BY STRIKINGLY SIMILAR YET FAR ADVANCED BIOLOGICAL HUMANOIDS FROM SOME OTHER PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE. IT’S PREPOSTEROUS AND YET HERE WE HAVE CLEARLY INTELLIGENT MEN LIKE FRIEDMAN WHO JUST CAN’T GET PAST THE RIDICULOUS PRESUPPOSITION THAT IS THE E.T.H.

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