This week I spoke with Mark O’Connell about his authorized biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, called The Close Encounters Man. It is a work that not only spanned his career as an astronomer, but his association with the Air Force as their scientific consultant dealing with UFOs. You can listen to it here:
Although I had lots of questions, as usual, the time got away from us. We talked about how Hynek ended up as the scientific consultant to the Air Force’s various projects and his evolution from arch-skeptic to a point where he began to think in terms of possibility. That means, rather than rejecting all sightings that had no ready explanation as impossible because there was no such thing as interstellar travel, to the idea that some sightings had no easy explanation no matter how in depth the investigation might have been.
And, of course, there was talk of Hynek’s training as an astronomer and some of the innovations that he implemented. Although his idea of a balloon-borne telescope lifted above the Earth’s atmosphere was scrubbed by the Air Force before he could get the telescope off the ground (pun intended and yes it has been difficult to write about that without littering the commentary with puns), it was an idea before its time. While most of us know Hynek as the UFO guy, it is clear that he had a fine career as an astronomer as well.
Next week’s guest: Don Ecker
Topic: His travels through the world of UFOs and his troubles with MUFON.