Commonly called the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies both supports and conducts its own investigations into claims related to unidentified flying objects (UFOs), including those related to alien abductions. The organization maintains a computer database, library, and archive of UFO-related material. In addition, CUFOS issues a variety of UFO-related materials, such as books, a quarterly magazine called the International UFO Reporter, and an annual publication called the Journal of UFO Studies. CUFOS was created in 1973 by J. Allen Hynek, then the chair of the astronomy department at Northwestern University, and Sherman J. Larsen, the head of an organization of UFO enthusiasts based in Chicago, Illinois. By this time, Hynek already had a great deal of experience with UFO reports. During the 1950s and 1960s, Hynek worked on the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book, which was an effort to find an astronomical explanation for UFOs. In other words, Hynek’s job was to determine that people who claimed to have seen alien spacecraft had actually seen an ordinary object, such as a meteor, star, or planet. Soon, however, Hynek decided that, given the credibility of many of the eyewitness reports he was studying, there really might be an extraterrestrial explanation for UFOs. After Project Blue Book was shut down in 1969, he started laying the foundation for CUFOS. He also wrote a book, The UFO Experience: A Scientific Study (1972), advocating a serious approach to the investigation of UFO reports and creating a classification system for UFO sightings (which Hynek called “close encounters”). Hynek served as the scientific director of CUFOS until his retirement in 1985.
SEE ALSO: alien abduction experiences; close encounters; UFOs