NSAT Photographs: The Continuing SagaBy Ralph Howard, MUFON Georgia State Director
The photographs published with this article were captured on the digital camera of a visitor to Providence Canyon, Georgia. In a report to MUFON, the photographer’s husband said nothing was seen by the naked eye. Yet, something did show up in the photos. As you can see, the “object” even seems to change position from one photo to the next. Evidently, it was gone in the very next image taken in the sequence (not shown).
These images are examples of so-called “NSAT” photos. NSAT stands for “nothing seen at the time,” and an amazing number are sent to MUFON each month. This may be brought about by the public’s belief that cameras can unintentionally capture evidence of UFOs. The public rightly thinks MUFON should see photos that may show “something.”
Unfortunately, with no visual corroboration of anything by any witness, the NSAT photo cannot serve as supporting evidence for UFO sighting. In fact, there is no actual UFO “sighting,” and typically we cannot determine anything at all about what is shown in the photo.
In the Providence Canyon report, the crucial fact (provided in an email exchange) was that the photos showing the rod-shaped “thing” were the first two of a three-shot burst. Since the camera was in burst mode, the images were captured less than one second (likely much less) apart.
We have seen many photos like this.
NSAT photos have included images of windblown trash, debris, birds, bats, bugs, toy balloons, seeds, etc. We have even seen a windblown hat and a fluttering piece of silvery gum wrapper.
In this case, the simplest explanation for the “object” photographed is an insect. Indeed, it appears that a bug flew in front of the camera at high speed. It’s course took it from the middle-right of the first mage to the upper-left of the second. This all occurred at sufficient distance from the camera that the couple did not notice it. The bug’s fast movement across the frame explains the pixel smear.
If we had some data (bug distance from camera, angular width of the field of view, and so on) we could work out the velocity, size of the bug, and other values. This is, of course, not possible when nothing is actually witnessed.
With NSAT Photos, one can Never say ‘Never’
One of the most famous UFO photos on record is, despite my nay-saying, an NSAT photograph. That image is the McRoberts photo from 1981, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The couple involved in that case saw not a thing at the time. Nevertheless, the image of a classic, clear-domed “flying saucer” appeared near the top of the mountain she was photographing.
Former NASA scientist Dr. Richard F. Haines performed a thorough scientific examination of the photograph and the circumstances around it. He concluded that the cause of the photograph was of an unknown origin. That photograph remains strong evidence, and has never been explained.
An NSAT photo might well capture something of an unknown origin. It is far more likely that any such photo will be a recording of a mundane object or light source. As in every UFO investigation, without witness testimony, there is little hope of reaching a solid conclusion.