Close encounters of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd kind

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Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

Close encounters of the first kind, the second kind, the third kind, the ways we have to describe a UFO encounter.

Who made up this classification system?

An astronomer at the Ohio State University, the late J. Alan Hynek.

Hynek was an advisor to the Air Force and director of The Ohio State University’s McMillin Observatory.
The Air Force came to Hynek to help it investigate UFO’s.

He went from skeptic to someone who said there may be something to all this and he came up with this classification.

The First Kind: You spot something in the sky and it leaves no evidence.
The Second Kind: A UFO leaves some physical trace: burns on the ground or broken branches.
The Third Kind: You make contact with a U.F.O, you see some alien pilot aboard one or other life form.


Stephen Spielberg paid Hynek a thousand dollars to borrow that phrase for his movie title. Hynek died in 1986 at age 75 and perhaps more than anyone else, he made trying to solve the riddle of the UFO’s a legitimate scientific pursuit.

Beyond Hynek’s classification of close encounters of the 4th kind (aliens kidnap us) and the 5th kind (we’re having regular conversations with aliens.)


The International Astronautical Congress put together the Rio Scale. Rio because it met in Brazil. It measures not only what you saw but also how reliable you are, the quality of your reporting. Zero means ignore it, it’s coming from a Looney Toon and ten means let’s definitely look into this.

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