Close encounter

Close encounter

In ufology, a close encounter is an event in which a person witnesses an unidentified flying object. This terminology and the system of classification behind it was started by astronomer and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek, and was first suggested in his 1972 book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry.[1] He introduced the first three kinds of encounters; more sub-types of close encounters were later added by others, but these additional categories are not universally accepted by UFO researchers, mainly because they depart from the scientific rigor that Hynek aimed to bring to ufology.[2]

Sightings more than 500 feet (160 m)[citation needed]from the witness are classified as "Daylight Discs," "Nocturnal Lights," or "Radar/Visual Reports."[3] Sightings within about 500 feet are subclassified as various types of "close encounter." Hynek and others[4] argued a claimed close encounter must occur within about 500 feet to greatly reduce or eliminate the possibility of misidentifying conventional aircraft or other known phenomena.

Hynek's scale achieved cachet with the general public when it informed elements of the 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is named after the third level of the scale. Posters for the film recited the three levels of the scale, and Hynek himself makes a cameo appearance near the end of the film.


Hynek's scale


A sighting of one or more unidentified flying objects:

  • Flying saucers
  • Odd lights
  • Aerial objects that are not attributable to known human technology


An observation of a UFO, and associated physical effects from the UFO, including:


An observation of what Hynek termed "animate beings" observed in association with a UFO sighting.[6] Hynek deliberately chose the somewhat vague term[original research?] "animate beings" to describe beings associated with UFOs without making any unfounded assumptions regarding the beings' origins or nature. Hynek did not necessarily regard these beings as "extraterrestrials" or "aliens." Additionally, Hynek further expressed discomfort with such reports, but felt a scientific obligation to include them, at the very least because they represented a sizable minority of claimed UFO encounters.

Bloecher subtypes

The UFO researcher Ted Bloecher proposed six subtypes for the close encounters of the third kind in the Hynek's scale[7].

A: An entity is observed only inside the UFO
B: An entity is observed inside and outside the UFO
C: An entity is observed near to a UFO, but not going in or out.
D: An entity is observed. No UFOs are seen by the observer, but UFO activity has been reported in the area at about the same time
E: An entity is observed. But no UFOs are seen and no UFO activity has been reported in the area at that time
F: No entity or UFOs are observed, but the subject experiences some kind of "intelligent communication"

Subtypes D, E, and F may be unrelated with the UFO phenomenon.

Extensions of Hynek's scale


A human is abducted by a UFO or its occupants. This type was not included in Hynek's original close encounters scale.[6]

Jacques Vallee,[8][unreliable source?] Hynek's erstwhile associate, argued that a CE4 should be described as "cases when witnesses experienced a transformation of their sense of reality," so as to also include non-abduction cases where absurd, hallucinatory or dreamlike events are associated with UFO encounters.


Named by Steven M. Greer's CSETI group, these purported encounters are joint, bilateral contact events produced through the conscious, voluntary and proactive human-initiated or cooperative communication with extraterrestrial intelligence. This is very similar to some "contactees" of the 1950s who claimed regular communication with benevolent aliens.[citation needed]

The nature of this bilateral, deliberate communication between the intelligent source and the subject is generally claimed to be (but does not have to be) telepathic.[original research?] The subject generally does not claim to be psychic. Contrary to popular belief, not all subjects in this category identify the source as being of extraterrestrial origin, but simply as otherworldly (or as being not of this world).


On Michael Naisbitt's website, a sixth proposed CE scenario is described as UFO incidents that cause direct injury or death.[9][unreliable source?] This category was not included in Hynek's scale, and is furthermore redundant[original research?]: a CE2 in Hynek's scale specifically included UFO encounters that leave direct physical evidence of any kind.


The Black Vault Encyclopedia Project proposes a Close Encounter of the Seventh Kind as mating between a human being and extraterrestrial that produces a human-alien hybridisation, usually called a Star Child.[10][unreliable source?] This concept similar to ideas promoted by ancient astronauts theorists like Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin and Robert K.G. Temple, in that extraterrestrials interacted with, perhaps interbred with and influenced ancient human beings in the past.[11]

This concept of CE7 is at odds with Hynek's original concepts, however[original research?]. Hynek's CE3 specifically avoided describing UFO occupants as "aliens" or "extraterrestrials", contending that there was not enough evidence to determine if beings associated with UFOs had an objective physical reality, let alone to confirm their origins or motives.

See also


  1. ^ Hynek, Allen J. Da Capo Press. 1972, 1998. The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry ISBN 9781569247822
  2. ^ see Jerome Clark, The UFO Book, Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1998
  3. ^ Hynek, 1972, 1998, p. 6
  4. ^ Hynek, 1972, 1998, p. 20; see also the program UFO Hunters episode "Alien Contact" aired on 23 April 2008 on the History Channel.
  5. ^ not included in Hynek's original classification scheme.
  6. ^ a b The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry (1972), ISBN 978-1-56-924782-2
  7. ^ Hendry, Allan (August 1979). The UFO Handbook: A Guide to Investigating, Evaluating and Reporting UFO Sightings. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-14348-6. 
  8. ^ Vallee, Jacques. "Physical Analysis in Ten Cases of Unexplaind Aerial Objects with Material Samples." 1998. Journal of Scientific Exploration. Vol. 12, No. 3., pp. 359-375. URL accessed 23 August 2009
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Von Däniken, Erich (1984). Chariots of the Gods. Berkley Pub Group. ISBN 0-4250-7481-1. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • close encounter — noun A direct personal confrontation with an extraterrestrial being (also figurative) • • • Main Entry: ↑close …   Useful english dictionary

  • close encounter — /kloʊs ɛnˈkaʊntə/ (say klohs en kowntuh) noun an encounter with an extra terrestrial being, usually specified as: 1. close encounter of the first kind, an experience of something connected with the visit of an extra terrestrial being to earth, as …   Australian English dictionary

  • Close Encounter —    An encounter with a U.F.O. There are several types classified in Dr. J. Allan Hynek s book The UFO Experience …   The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology

  • close encounter — noun A supposed observation, or observation of evidence, of extraterrestrial beings or their craft …   Wiktionary

  • close encounter of the first kind — close encounter of the first (or second, etc.) kind used to describe encounters involving increasing degrees of complexity and apparent exposure of the witness to aliens, with the first kind being a mere sighting and the fourth kind being… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Close encounter of Cussac — The Close encounter of Cussac is the name given to an event which happened to a young brother and sister in Cussac, Cantal, France in August 1967. They reported a UFO sighting and encounter with alien beings. Contents 1 The testimony 2 The… …   Wikipedia

  • Close Encounter of the Third Kind —    Seeing the occupants of a U.F.O.    Extensions of the Close Encounter ratings not created by Dr. Hynek include the following …   The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology

  • Close Encounter of the Fifth Kind —    Communication with an alien, either through speech, psychic abilities or channeling …   The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology

  • Close Encounter of the First Kind —    Seeing a U.F.O. within 137 meters (150 yards) of your location …   The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology

  • Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind —    An abduction by an alien …   The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology