SPOOKY: The Mysterious Solway Firth Spaceman


RATIONAL WIKI: On May 23, 1964, Cumbria resident Templeton took his wife and two daughters on an outing to scenic Burgh Marsh. While there, he snapped some family photos using his late 1950s model Zeiss Contax “Pentacon F” SLR camera. Templeton claimed that when the photos were developed, the local developer remarked that one contained a very mysterious background figure that appeared to be wearing a space suit. Templeton swore he didn’t see any such thing when the photograph was taken. He also swore he and his family were alone on the marsh that day. Gossip of the strange photo spread fast, and soon the photo was published in the local, and then the national British newspapers. The integrity of Templeton’s camera and original negatives were allegedly vetted by Kodak. The mystery photo rapidly gained the 1964 equivalent of viral status when world wide press picked it up, and a Ufology legend was born.[1] Neither the late Templeton nor his family ever admitted to hoaxing the story or the image, and allegedly were convinced something mysterious had been captured on film that day.

The mysterious spaceman story might have rocked on forever as one of Forteana’s greatest hits were it not for the denizens of a number of internet forums who wielded Occam’s Razor with deadly accuracy.[4][5] A photo analyst demonstrated that the “spaceman” was nothing more than an adult person of normal height with their back to the camera walking away from the child.[6] Others observed that another photograph taken that day shows Templeton’s wife, Annie, wearing a very light blue sleeveless dress. Closer examination of the original “spaceman” image reveals that the arm of the mysterious figure has a decidedly tapering, feminine curve to it. Exactly like the bare arm of a woman wearing a very light blue sleeveless dress. Her back to us, she is probably wearing some kind of white cap over her close-cropped hairstyle.[7] Enhancing the contrast of the photo further reveals the distinctive neckline and arm holes of her dress.[8]

The famous “spaceman” illusion was created when Annie Templeton inadvertently photobombed[9] the snapshot taken by her amateur photographer husband. He didn’t see her in the background due to the blind spot in his Pentacon F SLR camera’s viewfinder that only allowed him to see 70% of what the lens was capturing.[10] This is backed up by the other photo taken that day that shows his wife, again caught in Templeton’s blind spot. So Templeton’s lifelong claims were technically sincere: there was no one else with them that day, and he really didn’t see anything other than his daughter when he took the photo, and the photograph wasn’t manipulated, faked, or staged in any way. Templeton may have been honestly puzzled by the photo, at least initially. But given the improvements in SLR design over the years, it’s hard to imagine photo hobbyist Templeton never discovered his vintage camera’s notorious blind spot. It’s more likely that possible public embarrassment prevented Templeton from changing his “mystery” story once it became cemented as fact by the world wide press. And given the choice of having her husband seen in the press as either a bungling amateur photographer or someone who captured evidence of something mysterious, no doubt his wife Annie would have chosen the latter. MORE