On 12 August 1883, photographs were taken by astronomer Jose A y Bonilla at the Zacatecas Observatory in Mexico of objects crossing the face of the
The Jose A y Bonilla photographs (12 August 1883)
In 1885, the French publication “L’Astronomie” published an observation by Jose A y Bonilla, the director of the Zacatecas Observatory in
Mexico, northwest of Mexico City. Bonilla’s account included the following:
“On August 12, 1883 at 8am, I was starting to outline the solar spots when all of
“a sudden I caught sight of a small luminous body, which was entering the scope of
“the telescope, standing out on the paper I used to reproduce the spots, and wandering
“over the solar disc, projecting itself like a shadow almost circular.”
“I had hardly recovered from my surprise when the same phenomenon happened again
“and at such short intervals that within 2h. I was able to count up to 283 bodies crossing
“the solar disc.”
Bonilla took several photographs which he sent to “L’Astronomie”.
Claims to fame
Several researchers have referred to these photographs as “the first UFO photographs”.
During 2003-2007, Isaac Koi reviewed a sample of 963 UFO and SETI books and noted the frequency with which various UFO cases were discussed. The Great
Falls film featured in a list of the top 10 photographic cases (in terms of frequency of discussion). This incident was the eighth most frequently
discussed UFO photographic case in the study, with 32 discussions being noted.
Editors of “L’Astronomie”
In a note following Bonilla’s article, the editors of “L’Astronomie” comment that:
Lore and Deneault
- The observation “is not easy to explain”
- However, the editors “believe that objects in question are birds, insects, or high atmospheric dust, anyway, corpuscules belonging to our
In their book “Mysteries of the Skies” (1968), Gordon Lore and Harold Deneault comment that the speed of the objects would “seem to exclude
either insects or birds” but also suggest that “the number of objects would tend to argue against Bonilla’s having [seen] anything so exciting
as extra-terrestrial vehicles”.
References to discussions in books
- Kenneth Arnold and Ray Palmer in their “The Coming of the Saucers” (1952) at pages 119-120 (in Chapter 8) of the Amherst softcover edition. [2
- Lionel Beer in “Phenomenon” (1988) (edited by John Spencer and Hilary Evans) at page 20 of the MacDonald hardback edition (Part 1, in the
unnumbered chapter entitled “The Coming of the Saucers”). [1 page discussion]
- William Birnes in his “The UFO Magazine UFO Encyclopedia” (2004) at pages 43-44 (in an entry entitled “Bonilla, A Y”) of the Pocket Books
softcover edition. [2 page discussion]
- Frank Edwards in his “Flying Saucers – Serious Business” (1966) at pages 17-18 (in Chapter 1) of the Bantam paperback edition, at pages 23-24
of the Mayflower-Dell paperback edition. [2 page discussion]
- Charles Fort in his “The Book of the Damned” (1919) at pages 223-224 (in Chapter 16) of the Devon hardback edition (in “The Complete Books of
Charles Fort”) at page 233 of the Sphere paperback edition. [2 page discussion]
- John Spencer in his “The UFO Encyclopedia” (1991) at page 49 (in an entry entitled “Bonilla, Jose A Y”) of the Guild hardback edition (with
the same page numbering in the Avon softcover edition) at page 58 of the Headline paperback edition. [1 page discussion]
- Gordon Lore and Harold Deneault in their “Mysteries of the Skies” (1968) at pages 55-57 (in Chapter 4) of the Prentice-Hall hardback edition.
[3 page discussion]
- Harold Wilkins in his “Flying Saucers on the Moon” (1954) at pages 217-219 (in Chapter 9) of the Peter Owen hardback edition, at pages 210-212
of the Ace paperback edition published under the title “Flying Saucers on the Attack”. [3 page discussion]
For further references, see the entry dated 1883.0812 in Isaac Koi’s Core Chronology (“KCC”).
Bonilla photograph in various sizes
Relevant webpage on the Perceptions website
Relevant Discussion Threads on ATS
“Added: Bonilla UFO photographs (1883)”