August 25, 1951 was a quiet summer night in Lubbock, Texas. That evening, a handful of scientists from Texas Technical College were hanging out in the backyard of geology professor Dr. W.I. Robinson, drinking tea and chatting about micrometeorites. It was quite the brain trust: chemical engineering professor Dr. A. G. Oberg, physics professor Dr. George and Dr. W. L. Ducker, head of the petroleum-engineering department.
Which made the story of what they witnessed that night all the more curious.
“If a group had been hand-picked to observe a UFO, we couldn’t have picked a more technically qualified group of people,” wrote U.S. Air Force Captain Edward J. Ruppelt later in his definitive 1956 casebook, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.In the early 1950s Ruppelt served as lead investigator for Project Blue Book, the official Air Force investigations into UFO sightings, after working on its precursor effort, Project Grudge. The Lubbock Lights, photographed by 19-year old Carl Hart, Jr. on August 30, 1951 in Lubbock, Texas.
Sightings of the blue-green lights kept growing
Around 9:20 p.m., the university colleagues saw something otherworldly in the expansive Texas sky: a V-shaped formation of 15 to 30 blueish-green lights passing overhead. Stunned, but still using their trained scientific reasoning, they figured the lights would reappear. And they did, about an hour later, in a more haphazard formation. The scientists were all in agreement: They had witnessed something fantastic—but what was it?
The professors weren’t the only credible witnesses to the mysterious blue-green lights that night. At dusk, in Albuquerque, New Mexico (about 350 miles away from Lubbock), an employee of the Atomic Energy Commission’s top-secret Sandia Corporation—a man with a high-level “Q” security clearance—had been sitting outside with his wife. According to Ruppelt: