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The BETTY HILL STAR MAP and My Own Suggestions

Barney and Betty Hill were an American couple who claimed they were abducted by extraterrestrials in a rural portion of the state of New Hampshire from September 19 to 20, 1961. It was the first widely publicized report of an alien abduction in the United States.

Obviously this was attacked on all sides and claimed as a hoax by every skeptic then breathing. I have no dog in this fight – I will not argue the merits of her description of the alien group that she saw, nor the craft and its design.  I’d like to comment on a star map that she furnished after several hypnosis sessions that she undertook in order to help her recall their encounter.

Some claim that hypnosis participants are fairly easily led to one opinion or another, depending upon the qualifications of the hypnotist.  I will state that, given the enormous stress that is apparent in abductees, and then the pressure applied on them by various members of Government agencies and “friendly” investigators who are only “trying to help them”, whatever helps is fair, in my opinion.

Most of the reports I have read seem to indicate, either directly or indirectly, that Betty Hill drew from memory a map of a section of the stars that portrayed the Zeta Reticuli system.  That’s not at all true.  Neither Betty nor Barney Hill knew which system the aliens had showed to Betty, and Betty did not recognize the pattern of the stars. It was “others”, those “some researchers” who printed the “fact” that it was Zeta Reticuli being drawn.  And Zeta Reticuli is probably not the best answer, as we shall see.

It’s funny because great pains have to be applied to make her original map match those stars. So the pattern seems to have been – (1) suggest some star systems, (2) convince Betty that these matched her drawings and thus she was not “crazy” after all, and (3) then debunk your own suggestions and repeat processes one through three again.

Under hypnosis, Betty Hill described a map she was shown “by the leader aboard the ship.”
Later, she sketched it. She said she was told that the heavy lines marked regular trade routes, and the broken lines recorded various space expeditions.   The article in Wakipedia, of course, got the last part wrong – perhaps intentionally.  They mention that “dashed lines were to less-traveled stars”, and that’s not quite the same as Betty’s report of “broken lines recorded various space expeditions”.   A mention of space expeditions undertaken, by an extraterrestrial visiting Earth, and a star map of these, might make a lot of sense, depending upon the map, as I will outline below.

Though the map she saw had many stars, she drew only those that stood out in her memory. Her map consisted of twelve prominent stars connected by lines and three lesser ones that formed a distinctive triangle.

With all the attention the couple was receiving in the newspaper, the following year (1965) a map was published in the New York Times. It was a map of certain stars south of the celestial equator, and the accompanying caption read “Radio source called CTA-102, marked on the map with a cross, in the direction of constellation Pegasus, may be sending intelligent radio emissions, Russian believes.”

This is what we might call the first shot across the bows.  They decide to release something vaguely relating to a map of the source of “intelligent radio emissions from space” along with the words “Russian”. And that gets your attention. But they leave out his name, his credentials or experience, and any sources or confirmation for the idea.  This is a crystal clear attempt at disinformation.    While being visible in the Northern Hemisphere,  the Constellation Pegasus does not actually have its stars aligned in corresponding patterns that might be similar  to Mrs. Hill’s drawing.  Not at all.

Some of our accredited Astronomers seemed to feel that the map might have a sliver of truth to it, after all, and they published the report along with a request for comments or input.   In the December 1974 issue of Astronomy, the then-editors published a lead feature story titled “The Zeta Reticuli Incident.” The well-known astronomy writer Terence Dickinson, then Astronomy’s Editor, penned the article. It probably cost Terry his job, as he was gone from the magazine a few months later. Astronomy was just a year and a half old at the time, and this story set the fledgling magazine’s credibility back a long way.

But after several years the magazine’s fortunes recovered and by 1980, the time of the Voyager flybys, Astronomy became the world’s most widely read publication on the subject.  Probably because they no longer had any open-minded editors on the staff and they began regurgitating the standard answers that the scientific community and our Intelligence agencies approved of.  No more of those messy alien reports, please.

My objective, as stated above, was to examine the original map drawn by Betty Hill, which I obtained from the Hill’s original story in “The Interrupted Journey: Two Lost Hours Aboard a Flying Saucer” by John G. Fuller.  This was published by The Dial Press, New York, (C) 1966.  Yes, Stanton Friedman and others also wrote about the Betty and Barney Hill incident, but since I wished to use the originally drawn map and nothing more, I did not read them.

Under hypnosis Betty Hill recalled that she had, while inside the alien craft,  picked up a book with rows of strange symbols that the “leader” (of the extraterrestrial crew members) said she could take home with her. She also asked from where he came, and he pulled down an instructional map dotted with stars.  I’ve read in other reports that Betty mentioned the leader’s surprise when she did not recognize any of the stars on the map she saw on-board.  There’s a reasonable explanation for that which I will furnish below.

Simon began hypnotizing the Hills on January 4, 1964. He hypnotized Betty and Barney several times each, and the sessions lasted until June 6, 1964. Simon conducted the sessions on Barney and Betty separately, so they could not overhear one anothers recollections. At the end of each session, he reinstated amnesia.  When I first read this last sentence it seemed odd to me that he would “induce” or “reinstate” amnesia.  Wasn’t the idea to open up their memories?

In 1968 Marjorie Fish of Oak Harbor, Ohio, read Fuller’s book, Interrupted Journey. Fish was an elementary school teacher and amateur astronomer. Intrigued by the “star map,” Fish wondered if it might be “deciphered” to determine which star system the UFO came from.

I applaud Miss Fish for her labor in attempting to clarify the situation. But let’s examine what she did first.  First, she assumed that one of the fifteen stars on the map must represent Earth’s Sun.  Why?  If the map was already published and available on-board the craft for Betty to examine, it may not have had all of the current journey’s destinations on it.  Earth might represent one of those “various space expeditions” indicated by dotted lines according to the leader, and thus it might not even appear until new maps were created by his scientists. It might be that his map included the “known” planets; consisting of the usual trade planets plus the planets that they had previously explored and added to their maps.

But why would the “leader” seem confused when Betty did not recognize the stars on the map?  If the map did indeed represent the constellation containing Zeta Reticuli and other stars, including our Sun, as Miss Fish suggested, it would be understandable if Betty did not have any recognition of it. Because Zeta Reticuli is not visible in the night sky to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, where Betty and Barney lived (New Hampshire).

Zeta Reticuli is visible in the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere; so people in Australia might be more familiar with these stars than the people in New Hampshire, where they are not visible in the night sky.

But an even better reason as to why the leader of the extraterrestrials might be puzzled at Betty’s lack of knowledge of the stars on his sky map is very evident –  his puzzlement arose when she did not recognize Alpha Centauri, some 4.37 light years distant, or even worse Proxima Centauri, only 4.245 light years distant.  Surely a civilization that was putting their citizens on the Moon and exploring Mars would have knowledge of their nearest stars!  The trading areas that are outlined on the alien map are associated with stars that represent our nearest neighbors, so to speak.   I looked for a match to the extraterrestrial star map.  And I found one in the constellation of Centaurus.

If we need yet another explanation for the leader’s astonishment at Mrs. Hill’s ignorance of the stars depicted, perhaps it lies in the fact that two of the stars, and thereby two of their established trade routes as depicted on his maps, are included in our Crux Constellation – more popularly known by the more familiar name of  “Southern Cross”.   He learns that Betty and Barney Hill are devout Christians, and yet they don’t recognize the Cross formation in our own Southern skies?

Miss Fish was very intelligent and industrious in examining those stars that were deemed to have characteristics that could support life such as that found on Earth. I have not restricted myself in this fashion, since I have no idea what conditions each of the various extraterrestrial groups would need to survive and flourish.

By the way, the comments or opinions pages of Astronomy carried arguments for and against Fish’s star map. Notable was an argument made by Carl Sagan and Steven Soter, arguing that the “star map” was little more than a random alignment of chance points. In an episode of “Cosmos” in 1980, Sagan demonstrated that without the lines drawn in the maps, the Hill map bore no resemblance to the real-life map.  No, it didn’t represent Zeta Reticuli too closely in the end, but that’s mainly because it was not meant to!

And how Sagan can claim, with authority, that “without the lines drawn on the map it bears no resemblance” with a straight face?  Because the lines and trade routes outlined are the whole point of the alien map!  The leader was sharing the information with Betty that their group had already developed trade deals with our closest stars, and explored various others, and he was therefore attempting to leave an impression of his openness, exhibited in his willingness to share information with Betty.  Consider if Sagan himself were an astronaut on a deep-space mission.  Do you believe that he would share information about trade routes and explored versus unexplored areas with an extraterrestrial he might come across?

The Maps

Here is the map originally drawn by Betty Hill in 1964-5.  No star names are provided, the Sun is not listed, no identifying mark of any kind other than the patterns she observed. Because she had no idea of what the map represented.

And here is the map that I created, and I suggest that it provides a better match to the one Betty drew, than others which have been proposed.
Another Southern Hemisphere Constellation – Centaurus, which includes Alpha Centauri and Proxima Centauri, among others,  along with parts of  the Crux and Hydra Constellations nearby, conform to her 12 points.  I have placed numbers next to the stars indicated that match Betty’s map.  Numbers 1 and 2 are Alpha Centauri and Hadar, the very bright stars that seem to be indicated by the much larger stars on Betty’s map.

You will notice that my provided map has numbers near the corresponding stars that match what Betty Hill drew out.  Here are the individual stars depicted near those numbers:

1. Rigil Kentaurus or Tolimon, aka Alpha Centauri
2. Hadar, aka Beta Centauri
3. Acrux, the southernmost star in the nearby Crux (Southern Star) Constellation

  1. 4. Pi Centauri
    5. Gamma Crucis aka Gacrux, northernmost star in Southern Cross (Crux constellation).
    6. Ma Wei or Delta Centauri
    7. Beta Hydrae, in Hydra (Sea Serpent) Constellation.
    8. Xi Hydraw, in Hydra Constellation.
    9.  Epsilon Centauri
    10. Ke Kwan
    11.  Nu Centauri
    12. This is the distinctive three star pattern identified by Betty as being inside the triangle portion on the upper part of her map These are found in the Centaurus constellation in the same position that she drew them. They have not yet been named on most star maps but they are shown as a part of the Centaurus constellation of stars.  Since these are not included on the maps suggested by other authors, theirs fail the test of conformity in that area.By the way, the extraterrestrials wish to offer their sincere apologies for the fact that their own star map spans not one but three of our known constellations (Centaurus, Crux and Hydra) and that their trade route patterns do not follow the lines that make up the “various mythical beast” patterns that the ancient and primitive people on Earth saw in their stars, many thousands of years ago… Just Kidding.

    In closing I would like to mention another important point.  We can not now see the Southern Hemisphere constellations such as Centaurus, Crux and Hydra, that the people south of the equator can.  But that was not always the case.  While Centaurus now has a high southern latitude, at the dawn of civilization it was an equatorial constellation

    The earliest Greek writers included Centaurus in their maps and even earlier the Babylonians knew that group of stars quite well.  Due to the wobbling of the Earth on its axis, its procession through the Universe means that during certain periods of history certain stars and constellations will appear to “move” in relation to viewers on Earth.  Stars that we now see only in the southern Hemisphere were visible in the North Hemisphere in ancient times. (BC).

    The figure of Centaurus can be traced back to a Babylonian constellation known as the Bison-man (MUL.GUD.ALIM). This being was depicted in two major forms: firstly, as a 4-legged bison with a human head, and secondly, as a being with a man’s head and torso attached to the rear legs and tail of a bull or It has been closely associated with the Sun god Utu-Shamash from very early times.  Perhaps you have seen the many depictions of ancient sky gods, some of whom have this same combination of attributes – a man’s head on a 4-legged bison or bull.

    In the Sumerian/Babylonian languages:
    Mul = star, to shine, to radiate light
    Gud = bull, ox, cattle
    Alim = a Bison, heavy, important.

    And the ancient Arabic astronomers knew Alpha Centauri, the third brightest naked-eye star in the entire sky, as Al Riji al Kentauris, which translates to “the Centaur’s foot””, and this gives us the Latinized name Rigel Kentaurus.

    I hope that you have enjoyed this report, and I would like to assure you that I am always open for questions, comments or skeptical insults. Thank You.