Thursday, February 14, 2013

Was The Turkey UFO a Cruise Ship? Not Likely And Here Is Why

Was the Turkey UFO actually a cruise ship?

This post examines the theory offered by various sources that the Kumburgaz UFO, captured on camera over the Sea of Marmara between 2007 and 2009, was actually the bridge of a cruise ship. Some people consider this explanation silly and ridiculous, meanwhile others support it. I took a closer look at this theory and came away with some interesting results. 

 There are two methods I used to check if this claim could be true.

1. Use the Moon as Reference to Measure the Unknown Object's Distance Above the Horizon - When the moon is filmed in the same frame with the unknown object it is possible to measure the UFO's altitude. If the object is too high then it would rule out a cruise ship as a possible explanation. Likewise if it matches the height of a cruise ship it would support the theory.

2. Automatic Identification System or AIS Vessel Tracking Data - This is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels. It is like radar for marine vessels. If a cruise ship was in the field of view at the time the video was taken then it would be listed in the database. 

This is an illustration of the object's approximate position in the sky on May 17, 2009 as it appeared from the witness location in Turkey.

 How this was determined is explained in detail below.

However supporters of the cruise ship theory such as website and claim it was a ship in the far distance just above the horizon exposing only the bridge. See the image below which was taken from their website.

If that were the case the object in the video would be extremely low to the horizon (1- 2 degrees max), however it was much higher above the sea at 7.9 degrees, which viewed over a long distance away is actually a significant height. The further objects are away from the camera the smaller they appear. A cruise ship that far away, as forgotmori claims, would appear as if it were on the horizon or barely above it. The following analysis shows that the unknown object in the Turkey UFO video dated May 17, 2009 was too far above the horizon for that to be possible.

Method Used To Measure The Unknown Object's Elevation

The video contains several scenes showing the moon and the unknown object in the same series of frames. This makes it possible to do a triangulation of the Kumburgaz UFO's elevation in the night sky by using the moon's position combined with the help of astronomy software. In fact the moon can be used to measure many things in the sky. See: Calculate the altitude of an object using the moon

The May 17th segment of the 2009 footage has several minutes containing the moon and the unknown object filmed together. The clarity of video is good enough to make an accurate measurement.

 The images for this analysis were taken directly from the 2009 footage:

The first step was to determine the moon's lunar position at the time of video. For this I downloaded Stellarium an open source planetarium software that shows exactly what you see when you look up at the stars. Stellarium shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope. It allows you to rewind time and view the stars from any location. I entered the correct latitude and longitude of the witness location at the Yeni Kent Facility in Turkey for the year "2009, May 17, 3:07 am."

The software displayed the moon's degree of altitude at 12.3 degrees above the horizon when viewed from Latitude 41.041 and Longitude 28.420 on 5-17-09 at 3:07 am as shown below.

Next determine the unknown object's elevation.

Explained below:

The moon is always equal to one-half a degree or two moons would always equal one degree. This is a common method used by astronomers and sky observers. Using the moon's diameter, which never changes, I was able to calculate the approximate degree of elevation for the Kumburgaz UFO by starting at 12.3, 11.3, then 10.3 and so on.

When drawing a horizontal line at a right angle the object is approximately 7.9 degrees.
When adding an azimuth grid to a screenshot from the video the result is the same.

This is a solid indication that the unknown object in the video was much higher above the horizon than initially thought. If it were simply the top of a cruise ship seen at a great distance then the ship would be enormous in size larger than any ship ever seen sailing the earth.

The examples below demonstrate further that the unknown object was too high above the horizon at various fields of view. These illustrations were prepared with the astronomy software Stellarium. For demonstration purposes an object is inserted at 7.9 degrees elevation. The conditions are exactly as they appeared when viewed from the witness location on 5-17-09, at 3:07 am (UTC +3 Eastern European Summer Time). The zoom level decreases with each one.

Note: This analysis can be reproduced by anybody by following the same steps.

Field of View 37.2 Degrees

 At 37.2 degrees FOV it is obvious that the object was too high in elevation above the horizon to be the bridge of distant cruise ship viewed from such a long distance away.

In each of these illustrations the UFO is positioned at the 7.9 degree elevation line both with and without the azimuth grid turned on.

Field of View 47.3 Degrees

 If a cruise ship was this close the unknown object would still be a good distance above it.

 Field of View 44.7 Degrees


If a cruise ship was passing this close to the camera, which is highly unlikely because the routes don't match, the unknown object would still be far above it. Furthermore, even if a ship did pass this close, it would be so obvious, and seen in the video, that there would be no debate. The visibility was clear at the time yet around the outer edge of the craft is only black of night. Were are the running lights, windows, or life rafts?

Field of View 53.5 Degrees

Field of View 62.5 Degrees

Flawed Arguments Of The Magical Flying Cruise Ship Theory

Pseudo skeptics that support the cruise ship theory commit several fallacies. 

- Examine only 5% of the video throwing out 95% of the data.

- Complain "the objects never move" then turn around and suggest it was a passing cruise ship. Don't cruise ships move? Which one is it? You can't have it both ways.

- Ignore the witness testimony of the various people who saw this in person. Never mention that witness testimony is acceptable in court.

- As Stanton Friedman said: "don't bother me with the facts my mind is already made up".

Part Two 

Check Automatic Identification Service System

Note: This part is inconclusive. AIS information services greatly improved after 2009 since the IMO made them mandatory. Unfortunately this data is from 2009 when the frequency of vessel reports were about one per hour versus in 2014 they report multiple times per hour.

The second thing I checked Is the Automatic Identification System or (AIS). The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automatic tracking system used by vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data. The International Maritime Organization requires AIS to be fitted aboard all ships of gross tonnage >= 300 for international voyages. AIS transponders automatically transmit the position and velocity of the ship at regular intervals via a VHF radio built into the AIS. The position and velocity originate from the ship’s GPS.

The website is the most well known ship tracking service although there are several. The website displays real time tracking of ship positions throughout the world, but requires a fee to access historical AIS information. They track large vessel positions such as cargo, passenger, container, oil tankers, yachts, and  cruise ships. 

AIS data recorders normally are displayed in standard UTC. For local time in Turkey add 3 hours or (UTC +3) to the time to get the correct local Turkish time.

Note: Turkey was in Eastern European Summer Time (EEST; UTC+03:00) during the 2009 sighting. (UTC) or Coordinated Universal Time or is the basis for time in many places worldwide and many timekeeping devices use this 24-hour time standard. Time zones around the world are expressed as positive or negative offsets from UTC. 

The location of the "Yeni Kent Facility" in Turkey is Latitude  41.041 Longitude  28.420. This is were the video was taken from.

The Automatic Identification System information posted below includes reports from May of 2009. Each log displays "UTC date/time","Unix UTC timestamp","lat","lon", and marine vessel call sign. The original logs are in standard UTC time. Adding 3 hours (UTC+3) to the time would be the correct local time in Turkey. Next I plotted each ship into an overhead map with Google Earth using the local time format. The time frame window used for each date corresponds to the time when the videos were taken. This should give a good overall scene of the vessel traffic in the area while the footage was taken by Yalcin Yalman in Kumburgaz.

May 13, 2009 AIS Information 

 Objects filmed 2:20 am and 3:58 am
AIS time queried 2:00 am to 5:00 am (UTC +3) 
Coordinates Searched: N 46, S 36, W 20, E 40 
5-13-09 AIS Log

May 13, 2009 Vessel Information Map

Using I searched the type of ship associated with each call sign. I then put together another overhead map listing each ship by type.

May 13, 2009 By Vessel Type

There were 9 interesting vessels reported to AIS stations during the time window. 5 passenger ships, 1 cruise ship, 2 yachts, and 1 sailing vessel.  

There was one cruise ship reported as moored at 4 am in the Bosphorous Strait and not in the Sea of Marmara at the time the video was taken (2:20 am or 3:58 am). There is no indication of a cruise ship or yacht being in the area of the camera's view when the video was taken.  You can study the AIS information yourself and if you find anything interesting please comment below. 

 Expanded View

May 15, 2009 AIS Information

Objects filmed from 4:59 am to 5:32 am
AIS time frame queried 4:00 am to 6:00 am (UTC +3)
Coordinates Searched  N 47, S 35, W 20, E 40

5-15-09 AIS Log

May 15, 2009 Vessel Information Map

May 15, 2009 By Vessel Type

There were 3 passenger ships, 1 cruise ship, 1 yacht, and 1 sailing vessel reported to the AIS receivers in the area during the time frame. There was one cruise ship that reported AIS between 4:00 and 6:00 am but it was moored in the Bosphorous Strait. Several other vessels were detected but not in the range of the camera. There does not seem to be any indication of a cruise ship sailing past the witness location. 

Expanded View

May 15, 2009
AIS information between 4:00 am and 6:00 am UTC+3

AIS Information for May 17, 2009

Object filmed at 3:07 am
 AIS time frame queried 2:00 am to 4:00
Coordinates Searched  N 46, S 36, W 22, E 36

5-17-09 AIS Log

May 17 Vessel Information Map


May 17, 2009 Vessel Types

During the 5-17 video there were 7 passenger ships, 2 yachts, 1 sailing vessel, and 1 cruise ship reported to AIS receivers during this window. None of them in range of the camera or sailing past the witnesses.

More Blog Posts:


  1. Excellent effort on the analysis. Too bad we still don't have enough information to determine with any certainty whether the object was a UFO ( alien craft ) or something manmade.

  2. Wow, thanks so much for taking the time to create this. Very thorough!