Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

UFO photos: Dom Romão

The image was sent to the Brazilian UFO discussion group “BURN“, with the following report:

“I manage a company that makes ‘photo business cards’, and we usually take a photo of the businesses so that the cards have their photos. It was shortly before 4 PM in October, when my wife and I went to take photos of the ‘7 Corações’ business to make the card, when we captured the UFO. … When I told that to some friends, they said it was a joke, which lead me to contact the Air Force. I called the airport and asked to talk with the traffic controller officer [in Brazil air traffic is managed by the Armed Forces]. When I told I had a photo of the UFO they detected on radar he tried to dismiss me. When I showed I was not going to agree with his dismissals he gave me the number of CINDACTA [the main institution responsible for air traffic]. … When the man realized I was serious, he asked me to wait and went to speak with his commander, and I heard him saying, ‘We can’t do anything, he already knows all about it’.”

Pretty standard, even boring story. And as his UFO image also showed what looked like a rectangular block around the alleged object, it all seemed like a crude hoax to some. The surprising thing is that it wasn’t. At least the photos weren’t hoaxed, that is.

A forum member, Rosangela Maria Villar, decided to investigate this X-File. She simply called the phone number that can be seen in photo and talked with the owner of “Casa 7 Corações”. The answer was quick and simple:

Dear friend Rosangela,
This strange object is the chimney of the neighbor pizzeria. I positioned myself in the same place to verify it. The whiteness obfuscates the chimney itself, and only it’s ‘hat’ appears.
Sincerely, Karla

In fact, another image of the series did show up the whole chimney reflected on the roof of a parked car. Case closed, simple as that.

But there are interesting things here. First, the fact only the top of the chimney showed up. That was due to saturation and the low quality of the camera, as the sky was brighter than the maximum value the camera could capture, it simply captured a plain white all over. That included the lower part of the metallic chimney, as well as part of the roof of the place. This effect is behind many alleged UFO photos, as wires and other supporting means apparently vanish, leaving us with strange “flying” objects.

More interestingly, let’s remember that rectangle around the “UFO”. That wasn’t a hack Photoshop job. That was a JPEG artifact, where the blocks of the image compression done by the camera became more apparent. Every JPEG image may show those artifacts, and on these Internet days where every image end up as JPEG images, it’s very common for enthusiastic Internet debunkers to yell “hoax!” when they are only seeing JPEG artifacts that may be present on authentic images.

Then we also have all that unbelievable story about the Air Force, which I guess you probably thought was bull anyway. Fact is, the man who told that story gave his real name and business, and yet all suggests he simply imagined that unimaginative story.

Because, after all, that UFO was the chimney of the Dom Romão pizzeria. That would make a nice X-Files episode.

See: O “OVNI” da Pizzaria Dom Romão (in Portuguese)

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