1853 UFO Sighting Over Tennessee College


As day dawned June 1, 1853, students at Burritt College in Tennessee noticed two luminous, unusual objects just to the north of the rising sun, in what became one of the oldest UFO sightings in USA.

One of the objects was described as a moon, the other as a star. While the moon-like object began to grow smaller until it vanished from sight, the other grew larger and then appeared to change form, first into a globe and then into an elongated shape that was level with the horizon. The smaller light then became visible again, and increased rapidly in size, while the other object shrank. The two objects continued fluctuating in a similar fashion for the next 30 minutes. Professor A.C. Carnes recorded the account in a letter he wrote to the Scientific American:

The first then became visible again, and increased rapidly in size, while the other diminished, and the two spots kept changing thus for about half an hour. There was considerable wind at the time, and light fleecy clouds passed by, showing the lights to be confined to one place.

The students sought answers for what they had seen from Carnes and other professors on campus, but no one could offer a satisfactory explanation. Carnes himself theorized that it could have been electrical energy of some kind, while Scientific American speculated that it could have been atmospheric moisture in the clouds. Officially, however, the incident is still unexplained and remains a mystery.


3 thoughts on “1853 UFO Sighting Over Tennessee College

  • September 21, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    If the first photo is circa 1853, why is there a sign on the building that says “Beware of cars”?

    • September 23, 2016 at 10:24 pm

      Well spotted 🙂 We could not find any photograph from the event and we use another one.

  • March 10, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Based on the information supplied what was seen would have to be what are commonly called sun dogs, I type of illusion created by temperature inversions at different heights producing reflection. The so called Nuremberg air battle of 14 April 1561 is an example of this kind of illusion.


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