by Zoë Pollock

Michael Humphrey interviews Jacques Vallee, astronomer and co-author of the new book Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times:

[W]e got to 1879 which was a time when there were no dirigibles, no airplanes, no CIA, no Air Force, no SR-71s, no secret prototypes, no Area 51 and all of that. I mean, people could certainly be fooled by meteors and comets: They didn't know what comets were; the Aurora Borealis hadn't yet been explained. Some of the cases where people describe a serpent in the sky that destroys villages, we suspect, were tornadoes. But those are fairly easy to screen out. And what you're left with is something very consistent from culture to culture.

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