The July 11, 1991 solar eclipse photographed by myself at Cabo San Lucas


Basic astronomy ignored

Updated February 2003

Tim Printy


During the total solar eclipse of July 11, 1991, several videos were taken of a strange "object" that materialized near totality and then "left" shortly after totality. This was highlighted on Unsolved mysteries and The Best UFO evidence on video tape. This event was supposedly observed by millions of people. Mysteriously, astronomers located in Mexico City failed to report it in scientific journals. Additionally, there are no photographs of totality (wide-angle view) that show this object. Finally, the object was only visible during the time about 30 minutes before and after totality. There is a possible culprit but first let us examine what the UFOlogist state it was.


The videotapes show a bright object "hovering" in the sky. At one point a cropped image shows the object apparently moving around and leaving some sort of gaseous trail behind it. It is often referred to as a metallic. Also in the videotapes, the object appears to be a discrete object and not a pinpoint source. The video camera seems to show a dark edge on one side of the "craft". It was very mysterious and eerie, right? WRONG!!!


When one looks at the videotape that was cropped and showed the object moving around and leaving a trail, it is easy to recognize video artifacts. The camera was not stable and minor motion caused the artifacts. The object was stationary and it was the operator of the camera, which produced the "gaseous trail". These artifacts were due to the saturated pixels on the CCD. One can see this effect by just pointing a video camera at a bright star/planet and then jiggling the camera. There is no mystery to the "gas trail". The people who are presented as experts to analyze the video are nothing more than pro-ETH con-artists. Had an independent group of analysts looked at the video, a completely different answer would have been received.


The statement that the object was metallic is nonsense. It could easily have been plastic, wood, or paper too. They have no proof that it was metallic at all. Besides, an interstellar craft would have to be made of something other than metal to withstand the rigors of interstellar travel. The fact that the object was illuminated by reflection or internally is the cause for this belief.


Because of the cropping of the videos and the small amount of wide-angle views, it was not easy to confirm the object. The reports stated that it was seen all over the Mexico City area during the eclipse. I was wondering why a bright object would go unnoticed by all the thousands of astronomers, who were there to observe the eclipse. I saw the eclipse from Baja and saw no unusual objects. I even looked for comets or any unusual bright stars in the sky. My knowledge of the sky is more than adequate to recognize something bright and unusual right away. I know that there were plenty of astronomers in Mexico City with this same knowledge. There were numerous bright stars and planets in the sky that day. Both Jupiter and Venus were to the east of the sun. The lack of any reports by amateur and professional astronomers about unusual objects in the sky over Mexico City is something to be considered.

Below is an image of the sky for July 11, 1991 (Using the program Starry Night Backyard) during totality showing many stars/planets that were visible to the unaided eye. I remember in Baja, I was able to see Orion's belt clearly meaning that stars of magnitude +2 were visible. However, I also remember that video cameras being used in the late 80s/early 90s were not able record anything fainter than +1 in a dark sky. Many of the videos would be unable to record many of the fainter stars shown in the below diagram.

Of course Venus is the prime target for our UFO. It was only a few degrees from the first magnitude star Regulus. In the television program, The best UFOevidence on videotape, we were treated to numerous videos of the solar eclipse UFO. The videotape of Luis Lara showed a star to the upper left of the "UFO" in the correct position. Even more revealing is that Mars also shows up in the correct position of his video. Unfortunately, just as he was zooming in, the television program I recorded this from faded back to Lara. However, I saw enough to identify Venus, Regulus and Mars all in the correct configuration. This was a definite indicator that this UFO was Venus. Since this was "mistaken" to be a UFO, it can also be assumed that the same mistake was made on the other tapes. The Breton tape shows a wider angle and it showed at the top, what appeared to be the planet Jupiter. The alignment of Venus and Jupiter are correct. Once again, we get a quick fade to Brit Elders before one can examine closely what is presented. I could not identify Regulus but it appeared that this was before totality and Regulus/Mars would not be as easy to see as the brighter Venus and Jupiter. The coincidences involved with these two tapes are undeniable. This is VENUS! The other videotapes are not as clear and are too far zoomed in/cropped. If the originals were checked and giving a full viewing, I am confident the results would be more convincing.

I watched the same scenario portrayed in the SIGHTINGS Video by Paramount (SIGHTINGS:THE UFO REPORT). Although it claimed to be scientific, it was not so. Not anywhere is Venus mentioned. Lee Elders got into the game this time. He stated the object was visible for over 30 minutes surrounding the time of totality. No mention of motion and the object apparently mysteriously appeared before totality and disappeared shortly after. Sounds a lot like Venus. Although some tapes would not show Regulus and Mars (they were much fainter than Venus), one tape showed the three again. This is the one of Padre Ferrer. The announcer seemed to even indicate Regulus was a UFO too because he used the plural term. Just before it zoomed in close, Mars was again visible at the top. In this video, the sky was dark enough and there was a high enough zoom to identify all three. Videos with less sensitive CCD's or taken prior to totality, with sky not so dark, had difficulty showing Regulus and Mars. On the television show UFO Hotspots, the announcer erroneously stated that Regulus was Venus, therefore eliminating the Venus theory! With this kind of logic and distortion, it is amazing that anyone can refer to this as a scientific investigation. I am convinced that the planet Venus is the source of the UFO in almost all of the videotapes.

I recently obtained a copy of Messengers of Destiny in order to make a better appraisal of the videos that were shot during the eclipse. I had assumed that the best videos were already shown in the other shows but I was told the best were on Messengers of Destiny. As a result, I shelled out some cash for a used copy of the tape. Below is a table of all the videotapes shown of a UFO during the eclipse and what these tapes show.

Video Description
UFO in wide angle with brighter object above it towards sun. The brighter object closer towards the sun is clearly Jupiter and the UFO is in the location where Venus should be.
Padre Manuel Ferre
None given
Southern quadrant of Mexico City
UFO in clouds with star to upper left. This is in the same configuration as Venus and Regulus.
None given
UFO with two stars close and to the upper left. This is in the same configuration as Venus, Regulus, and Mars.
Across town from Lavorde
Wide angle view of UFO with two stars above it. Adjacent to the left side of the UFO appears to be a star although this is tough to tell with the camera jumping about in a wide-angle mode. This alignment seems consistent with the alignment of Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury. The star to the left of Venus would be consistent with the position of Regulus.
Laura Hernandez
None given
NE quadrant of Mexico City
Wide-angle with gap in clouds revealing UFO. Later the video shows her zoom in on the bright object "she thought was a planet" (Messengers of destiny). Video seems to be in agreement with Venus.
Miguel Torres
Central Mexico City
UFO in clouds. The UFO, when zoomed in and enhanced, is shown to be "emanating bursts of color" (Messengers). These intensity changes are nothing more than changes in brightness/color as the light clouds move over the object refracting the light in different ways. This explains the changes in color and intensity. The UFO can not be positively identified but its appearance and apparent location in the sky indicate it too is Venus.
Jorge de La Torres
None given
Southern Outskirts (Cerro de la Estrella)
Low bright object. This is not Venus and the clip is very brief and is frozen quickly although it seems to be given a frame by frame advance with the apparent motion to the left. The direction seems to be to the north. This is the same direction as the international airport. There is no reason to doubt that it could have been the landing lights of a distant plane.
Antonio Flores
None given
None given
Wide angle shot of low bright object that seems to be something other than Venus because the horizon is visible. It is starlike and may be the bright star Sirius or Canopus. Without more information, no firm confirmation of this object can be made.
Eduardo Meuia
None given
UFO with two stars to left (the second star being fainter and further away). Consistent with the positioning of Venus, Regulus and Mars.
None given
UFO shown in daylight faintly. Later shows UFO in the dark. This is consistent with the visibility of Venus during the eclipse. Writing in Sky and Telescope, Dennis Di Cicco stated, "Also, eastward from the Sun lay the planets Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus. Sites in Mexico, with their exceptionally clear skies and the high elevation of the Sun, were excellent for viewing these objects during totality. There are dozens of reports of people finding brilliant Venus a half hour and more before totality--not surprising, since the planet can be found in full daylight if one knows where to look." (Di Cicco 594)
SE quadrant of Mexico City
This is the infamous "hyperjump" of the UFO. The UFO seems to jump from one section of the screen to another. The video shows strange artifacts that appear like glare streaks or artifacts on the lenses that do not move. The clip is cropped and only shows one second of video. A likely explanation is that this was simple rapid motion of the camera as demonstrated by Rob Irving in his 1998 article for Fortean Times. The reason for the lack of movement by the faint shadows may have to do with these shadows being internal to the camera. The clips shown are highly enhanced and if one could see the entire original sequence a better determination can be made.
None given
SW quadrant of Mexico City
This only shows a closeup of UFO. No other details to make a clear determination. Appears to be Venus.
SE quadrant of Mexico City
The camera jumps about showing the eclipsed sun with a bright star below it and then the UFO. The alignment is consistent with the Sun, Jupiter, and Venus.
None given
NE quadrant of Mexico City
Closeup of UFO. No other details to make a clear determination. Appears to be Venus.

Contrary to what I was told, there was nothing really new in this tape. Sure, I got to see more of the "UFO" on July 11, 1991 than before but most of them showed the same object. Many of these were brief and extreme closeups of the UFO making it difficult to determine if it were Venus or not. However, many were consistent with the alignments of stars/planets with Venus. Regulus was clearly recorded in many of the videos but the degree of zoom and the sensitivity of the video camera may have prevented its capture on other tapes. Additionally, Mars was a half magnitude fainter than Regulus making it a more difficult target. The absence of such objects from some of the tapes does not eliminate Venus especially in the case of wide-angle shots that show Jupiter and the sun for reference. Finally, Jaimie Maussan stated that all of the objects did not move and were seen at the same time in the same part of the sky, "same time, same attitude, just hovering there..." (Messengers). Although he later proclaims the star configurations are different, he did not bother to examine the zoom levels and the potential configurations as I have shown above. The observation that there was no major motion visible of the UFO again indicates that the UFO was astronomical in nature and Venus, being the brightest object visible, is the most likely culprit.

The use of a zoom and crop are examples of the worst case of UFO deception that can be presented. Another example of deception is Britt Elders going on TV and stating that there were no "stars" in this location and they had checked three computer programs. We must remember that Venus is a planet! She either is too stupid to recognize a planet or is being extremely deceptive and can state they forgot about looking for planets. The fact it was visible in the same area of the sky over a wide range of locations indicates the object was very high in the sky. Actually, 45 million miles is pretty high! The size of Venus on this date was 35 seconds of arc and roughly 40% illuminated. This indicates it would appear as an extended object vice a pinpoint. The 40% illumination would give the appearance of a domed disc or half disc. This may or may not have been apparent in the videos because Venus's overpowering magnitude would not allow the phase to become completely visible. The "shadow" on one side of the "disc" is a common artifact produced by the videotape of Venus. The below video capture I made of Venus showing the same dark "shadow" on the planets right side (Venus is slightly out of focus in this extreme zoom).

However, do not take my word for it. This comes from the "The Lone Star (TX) MUFON Reporter"

"Two months ago, the Houston UFO Network (HUFON) presented to its members a portion of a videotape entitled "Messengers of Destiny," produced by Lee Elders for Genesis lll Productions. "Messengers" purports to have hard the evidence for the existence of UFOs -- videotapes taken by hundreds of individuals showing a daylight sighting of what appears to be a solid, structured, metallic craft hovering over Mexico City during the total solar eclipse of 1991."

...Wanting to show off my new "find" to my less fortunate fellow members to the west, I phoned Stuart of Austin MUFON. "Why, no!" she said, "We haven't seen it yet, but Ron Johnson told us quite a ago that there was nothing to it."

...He had already seen the video and knew the impact it would have on untrained observers, like me unless he could first explain to the group exactly what it was they were being shown. Much like the Lone Ranger, Ron Johnson rode to the rescue that morning. As I was to learn, such is the dedication of this talented researcher. Ron explained that in daylight, a computer-enhanced, stationary object - such as videotaped and witnessed by hundreds of individuals during the 1991 solar eclipse in Mexico City - was nothing more than our old friend, the planet Venus!!

...If you know where to look, and it's not too close to the sun, a person can see Venus during the daylight hours -- information the field investigator's class had just covered, page 59 of the Field Investigator's Manual. (I have watched the tape again since Ron's explanation, and nowhere in "Messengers" is the planet Venus ever mentioned (My emphasis). If its proximity to the sun presented even the slightest possibility of the object's misidentification by the observers, that fact should have been addressed by the film's producers/investigators.)

Ron then showed us a videotape of Venus he had taken from his backyard just after sunset the day before. He explained that when a small bright object is recorded against a blank, featureless background, the videocamera's circuitry will place a thin, black line beneath the object as a means of separating it from the background.

The recorded scene zoomed from a wide angle view of Ron's backyard, up to the sole bright object in the sky - Venus. As predicted, below the bright object was a black line. This black line is always below the object, no matter what the position of the camera. At that point, the scene of Venus jumped slightly on the monitor. There was the bright dot with its black line at the bottom, but as the scene widened back to a wide angle of Ron's yard, the yard was upside down!

...The event described in "Messengers of Destiny," never happened. Rather, the object had been there all the time -- the planet Venus. This also explains why it was stationary and seemed to disappear during the conclusion of the eclipse as the sky began to brighten." (Abercrombrie)

In one last interesting use of Venus as some form of UFO, the Elders bring in a video from Japan to establish a connection with their eclipse UFO. Strangely, the date given is November 23, 1991 and no moon is visible in the initial video clip. Suddenly the "documentary" jumps to another clip that shows the UFO with the moon. The narrator states that as the sky darkened, the UFO was there with the moon. The indication is this was an evening apparition. However, the moon phase clearly shows a waning crescent moon, which is indication of a morning event. More interesting is that on the night of November 23, the moon was mostly full and not a crescent moon meaning the dates were wrong. The first tape may have been a video taken on November 23 during morning twilight but the subsequent tapes can not be on November 23rd. On these sequences the configuration of the moon with the UFO bears a remarkable resemblance to the configuration of the moon, Spica (which is faintly visible in the video about halfway between the two) and Venus on the mornings of December 2 and 3, 1991. These videos are definitely of Venus but you never would expect to hear the Elders mention this. Instead they use it to demonstrate how their Mexico City UFO is moving about the world raising cosmic awareness.

Ironically, the Mayans were great observers of Venus and many of their ceremonies revolved around the cycle of Venus. They would never mistake the appearance of Venus. The ancient Maya and Aztecs would have shaken their heads in disbelief as to how such an "advanced" civilization could mistake Venus as something else.


Not only do the Elder's state that Venus was a UFO, but they also make a profound statement that the Mayans predicted the arrival of the UFOs! Exactly when did the Maya predict such an event? The Elders state there are several ancient documents that state this. However, is there any basis for such a claim?

In the video we are treated to the following description:

The legends of the eclipses known as suns are recorded on the sun rock incorrectly called the Aztec calendar. According to the inscriptions, the first sun ended with devastating wind, the second with fiery rain, the third with darkness. The fourth sun terminated with water, recognized by most cultures as the flood. The fifth sun exited with the destruction by earthquakes that devastated Mexico City in 1985... The 1991 total solar eclipse announced great changes as illustrated by this grotesque figure representing death. It also marked the beginning of the sixth sun, the sun of Quetzalcoatl, the legendary bearded fair-skinned god who is attributed with social, technical, and agricultural enlightenment of pre-Hispanic America and who promised to return. The sixth sun due to its historical movement trajectory and duration marked the end of cosmogonic obscurity giving credence to the prophecy given in the year 755, that the sun of 1991 would usher in a new era of not only earth changes but also cosmic awareness.... (Messengers)

Later Lee Elders lets us know that the Dresden Codex states, "Mother Earth, the End of the Jaguar Knights, the beginning of a new era that will rise on the ashes of the one before" (Elders). According to this line, Britt Elders has interpreted this to mean, "It said that this eclipse would be the harbinger of two things; "Cosmic awareness through encounters with masters of the stars"; and "Earth Changes". It would be the death of Ignorance, and the Birth of a New Light" (Rodgers). How the first statement can be interpreted to say the second is not known since the Elders rarely, if ever, give details. They seem to expound on new age mysticism trying to link statements from various documents in order to create some strange prediction to meet their needs. Are their statements correct? Are these source documents accurate? The credibility of the Elders is important to understand how accurately they represented the UFOs shown in the videos.

After the Spanish invasion of Mexico, many of the documents for many of the civilizations were destroyed. Probably the most impressive documents were those of the Mayan codices. Each Codex was made of a paper like tree bark on which the Mayans recorded many events. There are only a few surviving codices in the world and each is named for the location in which it presently resides. The name for the Dresden Codex is applied to it's present day location in Dresden, Germany. This Codex is an astronomical table that documents the cycle of Venus, the moon, the sun, and other planets. The important section of the document for this discussion has to do with an eclipse prediction table. It lists dates for eclipses through one complete cycle of 405 lunar months (11,960 days - just under 33 years). This cycle is to be reused over and over again. Unfortunately, the Mayans were not 100% accurate and their cycle was off by 0.11 day. This means that every cycle introduces an error of 0.11 day and one day approximately every 300 years. Although the codex was apparently written hundreds of years later, the cycle is set to begin in 755 AD. The Elders state this is when the July 11, 1991 eclipse is predicted along with arrival of the aliens. However, by the time the prediction reaches 1991, the cycle has introduced an error of over 4 days! Therefore, the Dresden codex, while very accurate for a primitive civilization, does not accurately predict the July 11, 1991 eclipse. More importantly to note is that the table is not for a specific eclipse but the entire cycle of eclipses. This is not what the Elders are presenting in their video. The July 11, 1991 eclipse is not specifically called out in the codex at all.

The ability to predict eclipses and astronomical events is nothing new for ancient civilizations. The Greeks and Chinese also figured this out before the Maya. Any culture, which observes the heavens the way these civilizations did, will note the cycle of the heavens. They will also note that only under certain conditions an eclipse will occur and enable predictions. The Mayan mythology revolved around the heavens. To be able to predict these events were critical for their priests. It would be bad news for a priest who could not predict an astronomical event like an eclipse, planetary conjunction, or critical moments in the Venus cycle. This is what the Dresden codex was specifically designed.

Another case of the Elders confusing ancient texts is their description of the "sun rock". Recall that they stated it was mistakenly referred to as the Aztec calendar. All scholars refer to this stone as the "sun stone" created by the Aztecs in the fifteenth century. How did the Elders manage to refute the idea that the Aztecs created the stone? The stone is printed with the language and mythology of the Aztecs and not the Maya. Perhaps the knowledge may have originated in the Mayan civilization but it does not mean that the sun stone was not created by the Aztecs.

According to the Elders, the sun stone describes six suns. They are wind, rain, darkness, flood, earthquakes, and, of course, cosmic awareness. However, their reading of the sun stone is incorrect. According to Aztec scholars, the actual reading of the stone shows only five suns and these do not match well at all with the Elders interpretations. The first sun on the stone is the Jaguar sun, where the world ended with Jaguars eating all the giants that lived in that Epoch. The second sun, is referred to as the wind sun (or sometimes called the sun of darkness), where the world ended with terrible cyclones. The third sun is the rain of fire sun. At the end of this Epoch, Volcanoes and fiery rain destroyed the earth. With the fourth sun, we discover the Elders finally getting something right. In this Epoch, the world ended in floods. The last sun, the present one is signified in the stone as the sun that will end in Earthquakes. How the 1985 earthquake indicates the end of this sun, is hard to understand. The Elders states that the sixth sun starts in 1991 and the suns changing is indicated by an eclipse. There was no total eclipse in Mexico City in 1985 and exactly what sun existed between 1985 and 1991? Strangely, we are given no explanations by the video and are simply expected to accept this. Nowhere in the sun stone is there any mention of a sixth sun and the Elders do not show us where this is stated on the monolith. Since there is no sixth sun on the sun stone, the Elders create one out of imagination and affix it to the solar eclipse.

In another mixing of legends, the Elders refer to the sun of Quetzacoatl? Interestingly, the Aztecs used Quetzalcoatl and not the Maya, who used the name Kukulcan. The Elders have mixed and matched myths of two different cultures and add some new age nonsense to it in order to create their myth that a sixth sun was predicted to occur on July 11, 1991 with the arrival of aliens and cosmic awareness. It has now been over a decade and no great awareness of aliens has occurred. The Messengers of Destiny/Masters of the Stars/Voyagers of the sixth sun prediction is nothing but a new age myth designed to make money! 

Pure Bunk for sale

Despite a wealth of evidence that Venus was the likely culprit in many of these videos, the Elders went out of their way to create a story that describes alien visitation. The mixing and matching of Mayan and Aztec myths and then trying to make some form of prediction made by the Maya is another case of the Elders trying to deceive the viewers of real facts. The Mexico City eclipse UFO story is nothing but a new age myth generated by a couple of con-artists, who rely on the viewer to be uninformed and willing to believe the most ridiculous claims.

Works Cited

Abercrombie, Andy. No Title. The Lone Star (TX) MUFON Reporter. 15 May 1993

Di Cicco, Dennis. "The Great Eclipse of 1991." Sky and Telescope December 1991: 589-595.

Elders, Britt. Mexican skies full of UFOs. On-line. Internet. Available WWW:

Messengers of Destiny. Videocassette. Compiled by Lee Elders and Jaimie Maussan. Genesis III. 1993.

Rodgers, Richard. Stories from the skies: An inteview with Britt and Lee Elders. On-line. Internet. Available WWW:


Additional on line sources

Aztec calendar by Fanya S. Montalvo

Mayan Astronomy by Michael Finley


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