The Mysterious Sky Battle Over Nuremberg in 1561

Feb 18, 2020 11 comments

1561 celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg

Throughout history, many observers have reported seeing strange things in the sky. Some of these sightings were, in all probability, natural phenomenon or astronomical events, such as meteor showers and comets, or unusually shaped clouds mistaken for flying saucers. But what happened in the early morning sky over Nuremberg in Germany, in the 16th century, has baffled historians for the past four hundred years.

On April 14th, 1561, residents of the bustling Bavarian town of Nuremberg woke up to a frightening scene. Hundreds of little fireballs were exploding in the sky, and crafts of all shapes and sizes—spheres, triangles, cylinders and crosses—were whizzing past each other. Spheroid UFOs were seen emerging from cylindrical ships and darting across the sky erratically and clashing with each other in a colossal aerial battle that lasted for over an hour. Eventually, a large black triangular object appeared and then a large crash was heard outside of the city.

The strange account was recorded on a broadsheet, an early kind of newspaper carved on wood, by Hans Wolff Glaser, who published the broadsheet for over thirty years until his death in 1573.

A complete translation of the original German article is as follows:

In the morning of April 14, 1561, at daybreak, between 4 and 5 a.m., a dreadful apparition occurred on the sun, and then this was seen in Nuremberg in the city, before the gates and in the country – by many men and women. At first there appeared in the middle of the sun two blood-red semi-circular arcs, just like the moon in its last quarter. And in the sun, above and below and on both sides, the color was blood, there stood a round ball of partly dull, partly black ferrous color. Likewise there stood on both sides and as a torus about the sun such blood-red ones and other balls in large number, about three in a line and four in a square, also some alone. In between these globes there were visible a few blood-red crosses, between which there were blood-red strips, becoming thicker to the rear and in the front malleable like the rods of reed-grass, which were intermingled, among them two big rods, one on the right, the other to the left, and within the small and big rods there were three, also four and more globes. These all started to fight among themselves, so that the globes, which were first in the sun, flew out to the ones standing on both sides, thereafter, the globes standing outside the sun, in the small and large rods, flew into the sun. Besides the globes flew back and forth among themselves and fought vehemently with each other for over an hour. And when the conflict in and again out of the sun was most intense, they became fatigued to such an extent that they all, as said above, fell from the sun down upon the earth 'as if they all burned' and they then wasted away on the earth with immense smoke. After all this there was something like a black spear, very long and thick, sighted; the shaft pointed to the east, the point pointed west. Whatever such signs mean, God alone knows. Although we have seen, shortly one after another, many kinds of signs on the heaven, which are sent to us by the almighty God, to bring us to repentance, we still are, unfortunately, so ungrateful that we despise such high signs and miracles of God. Or we speak of them with ridicule and discard them to the wind, in order that God may send us a frightening punishment on account of our ungratefulness. After all, the God-fearing will by no means discard these signs, but will take it to heart as a warning of their merciful Father in heaven, will mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that He may avert His wrath, including the well-deserved punishment, on us, so that we may temporarily here and perpetually there, live as his children. For it, may God grant us his help, Amen.

By Hanns Glaser, letter-painter of Nurnberg

Over the centuries, historians have tried to interpret what actually happened and how much artistic license the description has suffered in the hands of Hans Glaser. There is an undeniable religious overtone in the text, especially the concluding lines that speak directly of “signs on the heaven, which are sent to us by the almighty God, to bring us to repentance, we still are.” This has led some to believe that a rare celestial phenomenon, such as a sun dog, may have been blown out of proportion by Glaser and used as a form of religious propaganda.

1566 celestial phenomenon over Basel

The 1566 celestial phenomenon over Basel.

The most remarkable thing about this account was the fact that it wasn’t the only one recorded. Just over five years after the Nuremberg spectacle, an almost identical sighting was made in the skies of the Swiss city of Basel. A pamphlet published in 1566 describes unusual sunrises and sunsets, and similar dog fights between alien crafts. The report read:

It happened in 1566 three times, on 27 and 28 of July, and on August 7, against the sunrise and sunset; we saw strange shapes in the sky above Basel.

During the year 1566, on the 27th of July, after the sun had shone warm on the clear, bright skies, and then around 9 pm, it suddenly took a different shape and color. First, the sun lost all its radiance and luster, and it was no bigger than the full moon, and finally it seemed to weep tears of blood and the air behind him went dark. And he was seen by all the people of the city and countryside. In much the same way also the moon, which has already been almost full and has shone through the night, assuming an almost blood-red color in the sky. The next day, Sunday, the sun rose at about six o'clock and slept with the same appearance it had when it was lying before. He lit the houses, streets and around as if everything was blood-red and fiery. At the dawn of August 7, we saw large black spheres coming and going with great speed and precipitation before the sun and chattered as if they led a fight. Many of them were fiery red and, soon crumbled and then extinguished.

While attempting to unravel the mysteries of an incident that happened more than four hundred years ago, I decided to look up Hans Glaser and the kind of “news stories” he published. It appears that Hans Glaser was a printer of questionable repute. Many of his woodcuts were unauthorized copies of prints made by other printers operating in Nuremberg. In 1558 Glaser received a warning from the Nuremberg city council for making such illegal prints, and thirteen years later, the council even prohibited him from publishing any articles about Cyprus.

Hans Glaser broadsheet

Hans Glaser’s depiction of aurora.

Glaser liked printing sensational stories and had a tendency to exaggerate. Many of his prints mention bizarre atmospheric phenomenon like blood rain and strange appearances in the sky, and bearded grapes. However, there appears to be some degree of truth in his reporting. Philip M. Soergel explains the bearded grapes as “a phenomenon due to mold, nourished due to persistently wet conditions at harvest time.” Blood rain is well-documented, and has been recorded since the time of Homer's Iliad. Rain drops sometimes appear blood red due to presence of dust particles, or algae spores, as it happened in India in 2015.

Hans Glaser broadsheet

Blood rain in Dinkelsb├╝hl on May 26, 1554, by Hans Glaser.

Hans Glaser broadsheet

Bearded grapes from a vineyard near Prague, by Hans Glaser.

Hans Glaser broadsheet

An obvious halo depicted by Hans Glaser.

Hans Glaser broadsheet

Appearance in the sky at Nuremberg on March 2, 1561, by Hans Glaser.

It would be unfair to single out Hans Glaser as a sensationalist. Many medieval-era broadsheets depict outrageous celestial events interpreted as signs from the Gods, but a careful observation will show us that many of these signs are natural—mostly light tricks played by the atmosphere. An article at goes to great lengths to explain the shapes that reportedly appeared over Nuremberg in 1561. These included weather events such as sundogs, circumhorizontal arcs, sun pillars, and halos. If the conditions are right, it is possible to witness all of these in the sky at the same time, as evidenced in this extraordinary photograph captured on January 9, 2015 in Red River, New Mexico.

multiple halos

Photo: Joshua Thomas/National Weather Service.

At the end of the day, we can say with confidence that the Nuremberg 1561 event was not a battle of alien spaceship but a series of unusual weather events that was given a religious tone and sensationalized by Hans Glaser, because of poor understanding as well as to feed the public’s hunger for outrageous stories.

# Wikipedia,
# AboveTopSecret,
# Philip M. Soergel, Miracles and the Protestant Imagination
# Wikipedia,    
# Gizmodo,


  1. The 1561 Nuremberg sightings were indeed UFOs but they were not fighting, just playing ball game.

  2. Clearly these were just weather

  3. how did these guys come up with the idea of flying ships or spaceships or anything? I didn't think there was anything in the skies flying at that time.

  4. These were likely Novae, stars in the locality, bursting into a new state.

    Flying tales had been around for some time. Science Fiction is not new....

    1. Only witnessed from two cities, for a couple of hours?

    2. Most of the evidence was removed and censored. These accounts were hidden and survived.

  5. What about the sounds and the part where things crashed to the ground, going up in smoke? The last part especially gets me

    1. Birth of Venus meant the photosphere of the Sun was dissolved and some of it would have ended up on Earth....

  6. Exactly. Not a weather event at all! Things were crashing burning and smoking. Sceptic idiots not willing to go witb simplest explanation as it shifts core beliefs

  7. CLOSED MINDED people don't explained what the last massive black triangular object was doing. Obviously there are gonna be DEBRIS and SCRAPS laying around and somebody's gotta cleanup up the mess. What do you think that last giant object that is different from the rest was there to do?

  8. I've always enjoyed reading about this event since I first heard from it, definitely don't enjoy the whole schizoposting that I always see accompanying it though


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