Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Hill Star Map - Badly Out of Date

Given some recent astronomical discoveries, I thought it time to revisit the Hill abduction and the connection to Zeta 1 and Zeta 2 Reticuli. These stars were identified by Marjorie Fish as the home of the aliens who abducted Betty and Barney Hill decades ago and have become so embedded in UFO lore that it is accepted with no proof whatsoever. But the information and criterion used to
Hill Star Map 
create the three-dimensional models Fish used to identify the home world of the aliens is now badly out of date.

In creating those models, Fish made ten assumptions. I had always worried about some of those, especially the one that arbitrarily eliminated the red dwarf stars. I worried about including only main sequence stars that were near matches for our sun but rejected those younger, larger main sequence stars. I didn’t like the assumption that a spacefaring race that visited one type of star would visit those stars of a similar type but ignored those that were too different.

Now, I understood her reason for rejecting those red dwarves. There were just too many of them and if they were included, then the model would be so cluttered that the pattern in Betty Hill’s star map would be found repeatedly. Since it was considered unlikely that red dwarves would have anything of interest to a spacefaring race, such as planets that could support life, they were rejected. Fish wrote, “For example, they would not be likely to bypass five red dwarf stars to stop at the sixth, if all six were approximately equal in size, spectra, singleness or multiplicity, etc.”

Marjorie Fish interpretation of the Hill Star Map
Well, if you can actually understand the motivations of an alien race, that might have some relevance… or, if all those things were basically equal, but the sixth happened to have a planet with some rare mineral or was a planet that was orbiting in the so-called “Goldilocks” zone, then that might draw their attention.

According to Fish, that if these aliens were visiting double stars as suggested by another interpretation of the Hill map they would be expected to visit others. Fish wrote, “Since Atterberg’s pattern [one of those who proposed an alternative to Fish’s model] include a number of relatively close doubles (61 Cygni, Struve 2398, Groombridge 34 and Kruger 60), there should also be a line to Alpha Centauri – but there is not.”

As many learned in school, other than the sun, Alpha Centauri is the closest star to the Earth, except that it isn’t actually the closest. That honor goes to Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf that might be gravitationally linked to Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, which is a double star. The point here, is that we have a red dwarf that might be seen as part of the Alpha Centauri “system.”

Why bring all this up now? It was just announced by astronomers that they had found a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri that was in the “Goldilocks Zone.” According to an article in the New York Times, “One astronomer likened it to a flashing neon sign. ‘I’m the nearest star, and I have a potentially habitable planet!’”
There might be problems with this planet. It orbits its sun in something like eleven days, according to one source, but if it is in the Goldilocks Zone, it would have liquid water on it and that might be a very good reason for a spacefaring race to visit it while bypassing a half dozen other red dwarf stars.

This might be the best reason yet for rejecting the Fish interpretation of the Hill map. Some of her basic assumptions are in error. She couldn’t know why aliens might visit one star and bypass another. Maybe the one system was filled with dead planets and no water… or important minerals. Maybe the next is filled with things that interest that alien race.

And while I’m on this kick, how about this? I have always been worried about the assumption that the sun was on the map, connected by the lines. Why? Maybe this is their first time here and they were surprised to find a technological civilization. Or maybe the alien leader just grabbed the first map he had, figuring that this terran civilian would have no idea what she was seeing, so it didn’t matter. Or maybe her memory of the map was off so that we now have a distorted view. Or, for the skeptics out there, maybe she just “dreamed” this up because she first “remembered” the map during a dream.

For those interested, I believe it is time to reevaluate the Fish interpretation of the Hill star map, which I have actually been saying for years. There are now too many problems with it for us to continue to consider it reliable. (This also means that I must now reject one of the elements of Alien. They found themselves at the Zeta Reticuli system where the alien waits in ambush.) That little note is irrelevant but what is not is that the Fish Model and interpretation of the Hill star map is now badly out of date, is wholly unreliable because of that and must be rethought. The bottom line is the map does not provide us with any information about the aliens or their home world… we are now back to where we were before Marjorie Fish (which, of course, is not her fault).


Erickson said...

I have never understood why a two dimensional "star map" would be of any value to extraterrestrial craft.

Robert Sheaffer has written (Bad UFOs, July 17 2013) that for Fish's purpose, one favorable star needs to be excluded, and two almost favorable stars had to be selectively included: "The apparent validity of the Fish map is due to selective inclusion of data and by misdrawing the map to make it appear to match Betty Hill’s sketch.” The more we learn about planets outside of our solar system, the more it's selective nature is apparent.

While there are other competing versions, the number of possibilities of angle, scale, and selection make interpreting the "map" more of a testament to human ingenuity than anything else. It points to the danger of hypnotic suggestion rather than as proof of an alien encounter.

Brian B said...

I can't say for sure but I'm thinking our "sun" was added to this map to show a sort of local connection; as if the "aliens" we're saying "you are here" and "we are there".

Whether Betty was delusional or simply hoaxing, this seems like a logical reason for why someone might add Earth's sun to the map.

Of course I don't believe aliens pointed this out, I believe Betty subconsciously added it with the same thought in mind.

Of course, I would have thought that real aliens might have produced some sort of advanced holographic star map image, but of course they didn't. If anything, at least to me, this basically proves these "aliens" are nothing but fictional.

There's really no way that Betty could have predicted that by 2016 we would be familiar with this sort of Hollywood style holographic star map concept.

If she had, that might have been truly impressive. But instead she resorted to describing a commonly known two dimensional paper travel map, not something technologically advanced as we expected or have seen in Hollywood films.

As far as the star chart goes, I'm thinking anyone could "see" this particular formation anywhere in the night sky depending on what they used as the background source.

Currently, for those in the Northern Hemisphere, both Mars and Saturn can be seen moving through the constellation Scorpius in the SW sky.

Over several weeks now this has changed the basic "shape" of Scorpius by the fact both planets are drifting through it.

I think we might "see" patterns in anything when we chose to do so - even patterns that aren't really there, like pictures n the clouds.

Mr. Sweepy said...


So in the end, does your conclusion increase or decrease that the map is real after taking a looking at this again? You seem to be saying yes then questioning yourself.

I feel from the mathematical side, because the total number of planets, stars and more totaling in the billions, that it would be hard to totally believe the Hills wasn't tricked or the thought suggested and implanted.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hello all

I agree that the Fish-Hill star map does deserve another closer look but for different reasons.

I think we need to be cautious about over interpreting exoplanet discoveries at the moment. It is quite a remarkable feat to be able to detect these things at all but at the moment we can only identify relatively limited amounts of information on each planet. When one is said to be in the habitable zone of its star that only indicates that the surface temperatures might be in the range for liquid water depending on a whole range of other factors. For example in terms of Proxima Centauri b this would need an atmosphere with a strong greenhouse effect and at the moment we do not know what sort of atmosphere it may have.

Red dwarf stars are indeed a 'hot topic' in astrobiology at the moment but there is a lot of debate around how habitable a planet in the HZ of such a star could actually be. As they are small the HZ is close in. This could lead to tidal locking, with debatable implications for surface conditions. As another example red dwarves can go through unstable periods with intense flaring. These are just examples of factors that are currently unclear in terms of their impact on possible life.

In terms of the assumption Fish used that the stars included the Sun...this was based on the Betty Hill's understanding of what she was looking at, so including the Sun as one of the stars is I think necessary.

A key thing is that the distance estimates to many of the stars have changed since the original work. Fish originally worked with the 1969 Gliese catalogue and whilst she identified a possible correlation she did not feel it strong enough to warrant publication at that point. When the 1972 Gliese catalogue became available the correlation improved and she published. More recent data (e.g. Hipparcos data) usually gives different distance estimates. For a few of the stars (the three unconnected ones) it moves them out of contention in terms of the original candidates proposed by Fish (but there is more to this...).

A statistical issue then arose. Most of the criticism of Sagan and Soter was qualitative but I do think they raised an important point about observer perspective. The tricky bit is figuring out how to control for it.

A while back I took a look at this. I haven't published anything as it get very complicated and to do the job to publishable standard I think would need a trained astronomer and a complete 3D computer model. My tentative preliminary work suggests that this would probably give an interesting result however.


Anthony Mugan said...

I don't want to go into immense detail with this as it does all get very complicated...
you have to adjust the maps for perspective in terms of the y axis
you need to use a method that addresses the concerns raised by Sagan and Soter - in essence that can be done by looking at the probability of getting that degree of match in a 3D space (we have x and y co-ordinates so Pythagoras comes in handy at that stage of things).
You can then use modern distance estimates to construct an updated model and compare the p values from the old model to the new model.

In summary the 12 connected stars generally improve in their degree of fit. The three unconnected ones have significant changes to their distance estimates in Hippparcos data compared to Gliese 72. Curiously other stars also move conveniently into the correct distances and the right direction to provide very good matches for those three.

To continue...

Without going into detail it gets quite technical and to fully incorporate the three new candidates for the unconnected stars would I think need some specialist skills in 3D computer modelling and professional astronomical expertise that I don't have.

In summary therefore - it could well benefit from a new look and I strongly suspect that will produce a very interesting result with an improved overall correlation, but anything I've done on this is purely preliminary...but happy to post it up here (assuming I can get tables to go in ) assuming Kevin is happy with that. It wouldn't be for a couple of days as rather busy with work...speaking of which, I'd better be off!

starman said...

Even if the planet near Proxima Centauri is within the "Goldilocks zone" I doubt it has much liquid water, because of tidal locking.

KRandle said...

starman -

The point was that there is a planet in the Goldilocks Zone which could well be of interest to a space-faring race... Fish rejected red dwarfs because there were just too many of them.

Paul Young said...

Considering the sheer amount of time and effort Marjorie Fish put into translating Betty Hill's star map into a 3D model, all I can say is that she must really have had a lot of faith in the concept of hypnosis being able to give you total recall...especially considering Hill's hypnosis session was over two years after the event!

Maybe Marjorie would have been more hesitant of putting so much work into it if she had been able to have read the report by Ohio State University in 2001...


KRandle said...

Paul -

To be fair, at the time that Marjorie Fish made her models, it was believed that hypnosis was a gateway to the truth. I remember being told by James Harder that people couldn't lie under hypnosis. Anything said in that state was the truth. Given that, she probably believed that the Betty Hill's memory of the star map was an accurate interpretation.

Mr. Sweepy said...

Kevin and others,

I don't recall any other abductions where the human was given or suggested a star map? Does anyone have any stories to compare to the Betty Hill' star map stories and with details?

Daniel Transit said...


Long before the Hills had their experience(s) detailed by John G.Fuller and others, George Hunt Williamson had made extraterrestrial interpretations (suggesting links to stars and planets) of Venusian footprint designs left in the California desert (George Adamski contact with six witnesses, including GHW, most famously recounted in 'Flying Saucers Have Landed').

For extensive details, see:

George Hunt Williamson 'Other Tongues - Other Flesh'

Michel Zirger & Maurizio Martinelli 'The Incredible Life of George Hunt Williamson'

....Basic info on George Hunt Williamson at his Wikipedia entry.

Mr. Sweepy said...


Appreciated but I was asking if there was another adduction case where the same or close star map was given to another abductee? I have not heard or read of another.

So the basis of the question was this a one time event in terms of adductions and star maps? There have been several cases where rides where given but no map.

I am not asking to disprove the Hill's story but to see if there was another matching case to prove their claim.

David Rudiak said...

Kevin wrote:
"The point was that there is a planet in the Goldilocks Zone which could well be of interest to a space-faring race... Fish rejected red dwarfs because there were just too many of them."

There are other good reasons to reject red dwarfs, as Starman was just pointing out. Because red dwarfs are smaller and cooler than yellow dwarf Sun-like stars, planets have to be much closer in than Earth to be in a red dwarfs "Goldilocks zone". As a result, they eventually undergo tidal locking (like our Moon and Venus), with only one side facing their star and being blazing hot and the other side always being opposite the star and freezing cold.

The only places on such a planet that might have liquid water supportive of life would be the narrow terminator boundary between the two halves. That is not conducive to long-term evolution of life leading to advanced life forms like us. So maybe primitive bacterial and plant life-forms, and that would be about it.

(There are other tidal locking possibilities, such as Mercury which rotates in a 3:2 ratio to its year, i.e. 3 rotations for every two orbits, meaning an Mercury day would be about 60 earth days, still leaving one side blistering hot and the other very cold, with any one spot very slowly rotating from one extreme of temperature to the other, which I suspect make life arising even more improbable, except maybe at the poles.)

This Wikipedia article summarizes various problems with red dwarf planets having any life or more advanced life forms:


As a result, if aliens were looking for star systems much more conducive to advanced life like themselves, they would focusing their efforts on stars like our Sun instead of red dwarfs.

Betty Hill's recollection was the alien told her the star map represented their "trade routes", i.e. if the story was true, they weren't trading with bacteria and lichens but advanced life much like us, requiring bigger Sun-like yellow stars.

KRandle said...

David -

Is there any UFO case that you reject? Seems as if you defend everything no matter how strained the information is...

My point was, and is, that the assumptions made by Marjorie Fish must be reevaluated because of advances in our knowledge. She assumed that she could think like an alien who has space travel and could deduce their reasons for visiting certain star systems while bypassing others. She rejected red dwarfs because she didn't think there would be anything interesting there but we have now found planets (or planet) around the closest to Earth and while it is unlikely that live developed there, it might be that portions of that planet do provide something of interest. Maybe its a rest stop. Some sort of outpost... but there are points on that planet that would be capable of supporting life as we know it without great environmental changes.

I am also suggesting that much of the data she used to create her 3D models is not out of date. Distances to some of the critical stars have changed, moving them outside the ranges she needed. Or, in other words, while the effort was impressive, the work has been superseded by new information.

But again, the assumptions are made based on our knowledge which is incomplete at best and horribly wrong at worst. I say again, we need to reevaluate those assumptions and the conclusions drawn from them.

Joel Crook said...

Interested readers can find Marjorie Fish's 1974 presentation at Nicap.org: http://www.nicap.org/reports/hillmap.htm

The presentation explains her belief that habitable planets will be found orbiting stars in the F8V through K2V range. This is the range of stars which Astrobiologists [then called Exo-biologists] have focused on as the most likely candidates for intelligent life since the RAND publication of "Habitable Planets for Man" by astronomer Steven H. Dole back in 1964.

Unfortunately Fish's selections fails her own criteria. In so doing it fails as science. See here: https://zerothcircle.blogspot.com/2016/09/marjorie-fishs-map-fails.html

It is only recently that some astrobiologists have widened the parameters to include the likes of Proxima Centauri but I don't recall anyone from the SETI community claiming that intelligent live would be found on such stars. But claiming that was where the Hill's ET came from would prove problematic since the light from Proxima does not match the lights reported in the ET ships cabin.

Human's tend to light their vehicles, their homes, and their businesses with the light they are most comfortable with. Assuming that "ETs" would do the same for their alleged ship, then why was the cabin light reported as "blue" instead of orange? To see what the light of various stars would look like look here: https://zerothcircle.blogspot.com/2016/09/a-footnote-color-of-hills-ets.html

In addition the majority of mains sequence M class stars have too many "quirks" that it make it nearly impossible for Intelligent life to have evolved on a planet orbiting one.

The bottom line about Marjorie Fish's star map is that it fails as science... so does the map promoted by Steve Pearse for the same reasons. Interesting as the story was, the failure of Fish's map leaves the whole Hill abduction story back in the realm of being a tall tale without any factual, provable basis.

Paul Young said...

Joel Crook..."Human's tend to light their vehicles, their homes, and their businesses with the light they are most comfortable with. Assuming that "ETs" would do the same for their alleged ship, then why was the cabin light reported as "blue" instead of orange?"

(I've read some nonsense here, but this probably takes the cake.)

But just to go along with your theory for a second...maybe the abductors plugged in a blue lamp bulb to make Mrs Hill feel more relaxed.

Joel Crook said...

@Paul Young
Obviously you haven't red much about planetology, stellar systems, or planetary habitability. I'd suggest you read "Habitable Planets For Man". You can get a free PDF here: http://www.rand.org/pubs/commercial_books/CB179-1.html and in that book the astronomer that wrote it covered the habitability of all of the stars within 22 light years of earth and he considered that all 57 of the red dwarfs [Spec. Class M such as Proxima] were not likely to be habitable by humans.

Astro-biology and planetary habitability haven changed that much in the 52 years since its publication. They tried to widen the range of where life might be found or what Humans might be able to colonize... but they have changed the general parameters where intelligent life might be found because it is going to be roughly the places where humans can survive or could have evolved.

As for cabin lighting? Your reasoning seems sound as far as it goes. Yet supposing these ETs are "real" and they abducted the Hills, you seem to be overlooking something. Isn't abducting or kidnapping someone [if such a thing happened] a criminal activity? Why would a criminal want to make a prisoner comfortable?

If the "abductors" exist their actions [as told by abductees] seem to say they view humanity as something to be taken, sampled, inspected, and then thrown out on the highway like trash or cigarette butts. So if the abductors exist, they don't really seem to care what we think in the first place. why should we believe that they have any respect for humans when they take us when and where they can get us?

Which brings us back to the lighting. Your contention is they were "making nice". If a good percentage of the abduction stories are true, they have proven they don't much care about us "lab animals" which to me means the lighting was something for their convenience and not for the Hill's comfort. If a species was born on a planet around Proxima or similar stars, their eyes would be adapted to that kind of light. "Blue light" would make it hard for them to see just as we would have a hard time seeing in red or deep orange light.

But regardless whether the ETs of the Hills abduction are real, there is the curious fact that the U.S. Air Force commissioned the Rand Corporation sometime around 1961 to produce a report on what kinds of planet humans could live on... Why would they do so? We didn't [and still don't] have a means to go to other stars. Was the report the RAND Corporations equivalent of a $500 toilet seat? Or was there another reason? The report was published as the book noted above: "Habitable Planets for Man"

zoamchomsky said...


Dole was not an astronomer, he didn't even have a PhD. He had a BS in chemistry from a small college, a whole lot of pineapple money and a wild imagination.

You might also note that Isaac Asimov was his coauthor in the popular book version of this 1964 relict from the pulp-fiction future that was.

"Was the report the RAND Corporations equivalent of a $500 toilet seat?"

Pretty much, since it's riddled with factual errors and just a lot of speculation from a rich guy who had nothing better to do than play "genius" for his friends and family.

This book was written when Venus had oceans and Mars had lichens on rocks.

Dream On!

The Galaxy is far different from Dole's fantasy AND YOURS, Joel!

zoamchomsky said...

Paul says, "maybe the abductors plugged in a blue lamp bulb to make Mrs Hill feel more relaxed."

Here's an idea: Maybe Betty and Barney made the whole thing up over two years of continuous retelling, adding such details as they were questioned by insinuating (ie, "cold reading") ufoolergists?

In fact, that's exactly what happened!

Evert significant bit of the Hill's story is found in the 1953 movie "Invaders From Mars" only twisted by Betty's "dreams" and Barney's "Outer Limits" injection of the Bifrost alien's head.

Barney, excitedly: "They're going to capture us!"

Betty, comically: "You mean like on the 'Twilight Zone?'"

Joel Crook said...

@ Zoam

Perhaps you are confused.. I was driving a scientific stake through the Hill-Fish map and you want to question the science? Or are you questioning the idea that "habitable zones" exist and there are a bunch of fellows that have *real* science degrees that believe in them?

Let's clear something up then. Asimov did not write the RAND report. The Asimov version of the RAND report was a book entitled "Planets for Man". It did not appear in print until about 1970. It was an attempt at "popular science" but was almost as bad as some of the worst of the UFO books. Asimov [who was also a chemist] should have stuck to science fiction.

Have you actually read the RAND version of the report? It actually set the foundation for much of the later work on habitable zones. Say Kasting's "Habitable Zones around Main Sequence Stars" which was published in Icarus in 1993. http://www.as.utexas.edu/astronomy/education/spring02/scalo/kasting.pdf or "Habitable Zones Around Main-Sequence Stars: New Estimates" http://arxiv.org/pdf/1301.6674v2.pdf which also references Dole.

Current thinking seems to be that there may be habitable planets [ETs not included] on stellar systems as low as F1 on the specular scale-- the problem with going lower on the F range is that the life of the star gets shorter... Were such an imaginary creature such as ET to appear on one he might not have enough time to develop the technology to get away from a star with a lifetime of only 4.3 billion years. Personally I think the reason they expanded the search criteria is it increases their odds of "maybe" finding "something". OTOH, its been said "If we're the only intelligent life in the universe then the universe seems to be an awful waste of a lot of space."

Tarter and Turnbull's "TARGET SELECTION FOR SETI. I. A CATALOG OF NEARBY HABITABLE STELLAR SYSTEMS" [also known as HabCat] published in 2002 references Dole. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1086/345779/pdf HabCat uses F5V as its lower boundary. More data can be found here: http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habcat BTW, Manin sequence "F" stars are "bluer" than our sun.

As for RAND-- Do you even know who founded the RAND Corporation? What its mission was? Or who its only customer was at the time Dole was writing that report? Info on the Rand Corporation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAND_Corporation

You are correct that Dole had a BS in Chemistry [Cum Laude mind you...} and a bunch of graduate studies courses but he did not have an "advanced degree". Your point being? Are actually qualified to judge his qualifications or just trolling?

Dole was in charge of the RAND's "Human Engineering Group" he did do a few things. read his obit: http://articles.latimes.com/2000/apr/30/local/me-25094 I think he did more than fantasy. He also did some work on the simulation of planetary accretion disks being the co-author of the ACCRETE program written in FORTRAN and popularized by Carl Sagan in both the original "Cosmos" Book and TV series.

Dole's report was the first paper I am aware of that actually talked about "habitable zones" and how they are derived. Dole's RAND report continues to be cited.

Want to know more about this fantasy science? Try:

The Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo http://http://phl.upr.edu/ or you could even try the simple definition of "Planetary Habitability" at that ever popular Skeptic reference site, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_habitability where they even put Dole's report on the "further reading" list.

Paul Young said...

Zoan! It seems my slight sarcasm was too subtle for you to pick up on. (For your benefit, I'll lay it on thicker in future.) When it comes to the Hill's story, I'm as sceptical as you. I'd consider Betty and Barney Rubble to be more convincing witnesses than Betty and Barney Hill. And, as mentioned on an early comment on this thread, I'm baffled as to why someone like Majorie Fish would have spent years on such a painstaking task like converting the so called "star map" to a 3D model. With the sheer amount of stars out there, Betty could have slapped the dots anywhere on that piece of paper (and I expect that's exactly what she did) and Fish would have got a match sooner or later.

zoamchomsky said...

No, Paul, not at all. If anything, I was agreeing with you. I had just sat down with a Newcastle after a long day and felt like jumping in on any bit of the silly Hill story. That's all.

Yes, the Fish map is worthless, always was. That an Ohio school teacher would take the Hill's paranoid fairy tale seriously enough to be obsessed by Betty's "star map drawn from memory" addition to her story is ridiculous, and sad. You said it.

There is an observatory scene in "Invaders from Mars" where an astronomer points to a star map, as most here probably know. A case can be made that ties the scene directly to Betty Hill's account. But Fish didn't have the advantage of the PSH, and her obsession is a testament to the power the flying-saucer myth had over some minds in the 1960s.


zoamchomsky said...

Joel; The "stellar habitable zone" concept was introduced in 1953, and not by Dole who was not an astronomer.

I'm not impressed by his RAND Corp association. In 1964 all that even astronomers could do was guess about extrasolar planets. Anything that Dole got even half-way right was by sheer accident or was borrowed from others--most probably astronomers.

But the real point was why the USAF would request such a study, and your frivolous sarcastic rhetorical question and answer was the best and most correct: Because they had money to burn--none of your misanthropic conspiracy theories required.

Unknown said...

An anonymous astrophysicist did an updated analysis of Betty's star map in 2013. You'll find it on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1l_1X86dpo.