J. Allen Hynek : biography

01 May 1910 - 27 April 1986

In 1977, at the First International UFO Congress in Chicago, Hynek presented his thoughts in his speech "What I really believe about UFOs." "I do believe," he said, "that the UFO phenomenon as a whole is real, but I do not mean necessarily that it's just one thing. We must ask whether the diversity of observed UFOs . . . all spring from the same basic source, as do weather phenomena, which all originate in the atmosphere", or whether they differ "as a rain shower differs from a meteor, which in turn differs from a cosmic-ray shower." We must not ask, Hynek said, what hypothesis can explain the most facts, but we must ask, which hypothesis can explain the most puzzling facts.Fuller, 1980, pp. 156–157

"There is sufficient evidence to defend both the ETI and the EDI hypothesis," Hynek continued. As evidence for the ETI (extraterrestrial intelligence) he mentioned, as examples, the radar cases as good evidence of something solid, and the physical-trace cases. Then he turned to defending the EDI (extradimensional intelligence) hypothesis. Besides the aspect of materialization and dematerialization he cited the "poltergeist" phenomenon experienced by some people after a close encounter; the photographs of UFOs, some times on only one frame, not seen by the witnesses; the changing form right before the witnesses' eyes; the puzzling question of telepathic communication; or that in close encounters of the third kind the creatures seem to be at home in earth's gravity and atmosphere; the sudden stillness in the presence of the craft; levitation of cars or persons; the development by some of psychic abilities after an encounter. "Do we have two aspects of one phenomenon or two different sets of phenomena?" Hynek asked.Fuller, 1980, pp. 157–163

Finally he introduced a third hypothesis. "I hold it entirely possible," he said, "that a technology exists, which encompasses both the physical and the psychic, the material and the mental. There are stars that are millions of years older than the sun. There may be a civilization that is millions of years more advanced than man's. We have gone from Kitty Hawk to the moon in some seventy years, but it's possible that a million-year-old civilization may know something that we don't ... I hypothesize an 'M&M' technology encompassing the mental and material realms. The psychic realms, so mysterious to us today, may be an ordinary part of an advanced technology."Fuller, 1980, pp. 164–165

In Hynek and Vallee's 1975 book The Edge of Reality, Hynek publishes a stereoscopic photograph of a UFO he took during a flight. According to the book the object stayed in sight long enough for Hynek to unpack his camera from his luggage and take two exposures. UFO researcher Robert Sheaffer writes in his book Psychic Vibrations that Hynek seemed to forget that he had photographed and published these two photographs as he told a reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail that he had never seen a UFO. The article quotes Hynek saying that in all the years he has been looking upward "He has never seen 'what I would so dearly love to see. Oh, the subject has been so ridiculed that I would never report a UFO even if I did see one - not without a witness'".


  • J. Allen Hynek. The UFO Experience: A scientific enquiry (1972) ISBN 978-1-56924-782-2
  • J. Allen Hynek, Jacques Vallée. The Edge of Reality: A progress reports on the unidentified flying objects, (1975) ISBN 978-0-8092-8150-3
  • J. Allen Hynek. The Hynek UFO Report (1977)
  • J. Allen Hynek, Philip Imbrogno, Bob Pratt. Night Siege – The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings (1987)

Early life and career

Allen Hynek (left) and [[Jacques Vallee (right)]] Hynek was born in Chicago to Czech parents. In 1931, Hynek received a B.S. from the University of Chicago. In 1935, he completed his Ph.D. in astrophysics at Yerkes Observatory. He joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ohio State University in 1936. He specialized in the study of stellar evolution and in the identification of spectroscopic binaries.

During World War II, Hynek was a civilian scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where he helped to develop the United States Navy's radio proximity fuze.

After the war, Hynek returned to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ohio State, rising to full professor in 1950.

In 1956, he left to join Professor Fred Whipple, the Harvard astronomer, at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which had combined with the Harvard Observatory at Harvard. Hynek had the assignment of directing the tracking of an American space satellite, a project for the International Geophysical Year in 1956 and thereafter. In addition to over 200 teams of amateur scientists around the world that were part of Operation Moonwatch, there were also 12 photographic Baker-Nunn stations. A special camera was devised for the task and a prototype was built and tested and then stripped apart again when, on Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched its first satellite, Sputnik.

After completing his work on the satellite program, Hynek went back to teaching, taking the position of professor and chairman of the astronomy department at Northwestern University in 1960.

Hynek's son Joel Hynek is an Oscar winning movie visual effects supervisor who directed the design of the so-called camouflage effect from the movie Predator.

Hynek's Starlight Fluctuation Studies

The following reports were created by Dr. J. Allen Hynek. These documents offer a rare glimpse into the life of Dr. J. Allen Hynek—away from his study into the UFO phenomenon.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine