The Paraguay River Encounter – First UFO Sighting In 1846 Brazil?

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
August 22, 2018
Last Updated
October 6, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
6 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

It might be easy to overlook the apparent mid-nineteenth century UFO encounter that appeared in the 26th November 1846 edition of the ‘Official Gazette of the Empire of Brazil” newspaper, had it not also been logged in the official files of Brazil’s UFO encounters. The incident was uncovered by UFO researcher, Antonio Huneeus, while searching the Brazilian government’s official documents, who in turn discovered a 1940s article by Edison Boaventura Junior.

A depiction of a UFO in a sunset sky

A depiction of a UFO in a sunset sky

Perhaps part of the reason the encounter enjoyed such widespread attention at the time (and since) was the main witness and writer of the original 1846 article was a decorated member of the Brazilian navy, Augusto Lerverger. Rightly or wrongly, he was seen as an upstanding and reliable witness, which he very probably was.

As we will look at later, thanks to the Internet and the many UFO researchers and enthusiasts worldwide today, we are now able to look at these events that were at one time regarded as isolated incidents alongside others of a similar nature or that occurred at a similar time. And from that, we can now see many are possibly part of continued waves of sightings all across the globe.

Military “Muscle” Mission On The Paraguay River

The incident would occur on the Paraguay River, a stretch of water that Leverger himself helped to chart and map out in the year prior. The river runs between Paraguay and Brazil’s Matto Grosso area. [1] In June 1846, Leverger was leading two gunboats down the stretch of water. Their destination was Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay in what was largely (and unofficially) a “military muscle-flexing” exercise on the part of the Brazilian government. When they were just under twenty miles away from Asuncion, though, things began to turn strange.

It was, according to the details recorded by Leverger, 5:57 am when the “phenomenon never seen before” was first occurred. The sky up until that point was clear and calm. However, out of nowhere, a “luminous globe performed with instant speed a 30-degree curve” in front of them. Apparently connected to this globe was a “light band”, along which “three bodies” were visible “whose brightness was much more lively”. Leverger would offer that the object, including the three extra bodies, “exceeded in intensity the full moon”.

Leverger would report that the three extra objects were separate from each other and of different shapes. He would describe one as “circular”, another as “an arc of a circle”, and the top object was an “irregular quadrangle”. Furthermore, a “ribbon of very faint light” would move around the object in a zig-zag motion.

Changing Shapes

Perhaps the differing shapes was the object turning on its own axis as it traveled. This is a detail, albeit usually with disc or sphere-shaped craft, that is relatively common in UFO sightings. As they continued to watch the strange object, it would change shape again. This time it would appear to be a “flat elliptical shape”. After twenty-five minutes, the object had disappeared into the distance, leaving “not the slightest sign of disturbance”.

Leverger wasn’t alone in seeing the strange craft. As well as the crew of the boat, the Brazilian Ambassador, Dr. Jose Antonio Bueno was also present. Furthermore, when they arrived in Asuncion a short time later it was apparent that many had seen the strange incident from the city.

Many people, including Leverger himself, pondered if the incident was some kind of atmospheric incident or even a meteor. However, the highly detailed description sits comfortably with contemporary descriptions of UFOs. Furthermore, the fact the object was visible for almost thirty minutes makes the meteor claims pretty much obsolete.

A depiction of a UFO over the Paraguay RIver

A depiction of a UFO over the Paraguay RIver

Other Strange Incidents Of The Mid-1840s

The incident in Brazil would have been seen at the time as an isolated, one-of-a-kind event. However, as reports continue to be loosely cataloged online from all over the globe, stretching back as far as any record exists of them, we can see there were several other sightings of strange aerial phenomena around the planet in the mid-1840s. [2]

Around a month later, on 25th August 1846, for example, in Saint-Apre in France, Dr. Moreau was returning home following a house call to one of his patients. It was 2:30 am, but the air was still warm from the summer. Suddenly, an intensely bright light enveloped him. He looked up to see a globe that suddenly opened allowing “hundreds of star-like objects” to fly into the air. This would continue for just short of five minutes before the globe, and with it, the light, vanished.

Several weeks later on 19th September, also in France in La Salette, eleven-year-old, Maximin, and fourteen-year-old, Melanie Calvat, would witness a bright and sudden flash across the skies above them as they herded cattle. It was the middle of the day, but as Melanie would state later, the light was “shining more brightly than the sun”.

The young girl called out to Maximin to see if he too could see the “beautiful light”. As she did she would recall how she felt captivated by this mysterious glow. She would even state that as she watched “something inconceivably fantastic passed through me”.  All the while, the teenager would keep her eye on the light above her. It was then she noticed a “lady” emerging out of it, herself shining brightly. The young girl claimed the woman was the “Virgin Mary” and warned of a failed harvest if the community didn’t change its ways.

Incidents From China To London

The following month in November 1846, on the Rangoon River in China, a sudden bright light appeared in front of a ship as it sailed along the waters. With the light also came a sudden heat which warmed the cold night air considerably. The main witness was the wife of the ship’s owner, who with her four-year-old child stood at the front of the ship with the captain. The light had the appearance of a “compact flame” and was witnessed by multiple people on the ship, and in the vicinity along the water’s edge.

Another strange sighting took place on the evening of 19th March 1847 over Holloway in London, [3] England. The unnamed witness, along with his colleague referred to only as “A” left Albion Road at just after 8:30 pm. The sky was a pure black overhead, with not a star visible to either man. However, not long after setting off, the two men saw what they believed to be a fire-balloon slowly coming down to land. The lower it got, though, as it continued to move to the west of their location, “its intense brilliance” assured the witness that this “was not an Earthly thing”.

As each man continued to watch, the object projected several “fiery coruscations” and took on the appearance of an “intensely radiant cloud”. The object had begun to rise a little higher again now, but so bright were the lights that they “cast a brilliant light on the houses” in the streets below. Then, a second, equally bright object appeared and joined the first one. Each hovered in the air for around two minutes before the first object “absorbed” the second. As each man continued to stare upwards in awe, the bright light faded back into the night.

A depiction of the Saratov Lights

A depiction of the Saratov Lights

The “Strangers” Of Saratov, Russia

An account that is worth including here occurred in the Saratov region of Russia, near Balashov in October 1847. Local residents would notice “four fiery columns of light” in the sky overhead. Each column sparkled between shades of blue and white and were visible for almost two hours. Then, as quickly as the lights had appeared, they vanished, leaving the area in complete darkness again.

Not long after the incident, residents of Saratov began noticing “bizarre looking strangers” walking around the area. They appeared friendly enough, although nobody could understand them, nor, it would appear, could they understand the locals. Descriptions of the strange visitors would state they looked very much like “elderly men” with “yellow-greenish faces”. While many of the men in the region, particularly older men, would grow beards, the strangers were all beardless, which also made them stand out. Most of the locals, despite their strange appearance, thought they were eccentric travelers, and for the most part, let them come and go as they pleased. They never asked for anything, nor made any trouble.

They would always disappear by nightfall, however, and would rarely spend more than a day in the same region. The local police would attempt to track down these mysterious strangers, who had found their way onto the authority’s radar through street gossip. However, they would never manage to apprehend any of them.

A Modern Sighting Of A (Perceived) “Divine” Event?

The last sighting of them was almost a year after they had first appeared. On the evening of 6th October 1848, just after 9 pm, a bright light illuminated much of the area. And a rumbling like thunder would sound overhead. Around an hour later, a “blood red colored spot” was visible, which then transformed into an “elongated form”. Suddenly, the red shape transformed again. This time into several separate columns of light, each reaching down to the horizon in front of the witnesses.  By 11 pm, the lights had vanished. There were no more sightings of the “strangers” following the incident.

If we accept the report to be accurate, there would seem to be a direct connection to the “columns of light” and the appearance, and then disappearance, of the “strangers”. This would suggest these beams or columns were transporting them from the aerial craft to the ground, and then back. Or perhaps this, like many UFO cases, might suggest a portal-like device. In this particular case, only lights were seen which then “elongated”. Might this be an opening of a gateway? What is also interesting, looking at the “columns of light” aspect of the incident once more, is that had this incident occurred in antiquity it would have clearly been seen as “divine”. With this in mind, perhaps some of those old Bible stories and ancient texts deserve another once-over.

One thing is certain, strange incidents and events appear to go back as long as our planet itself. A mind-blowing notion, no doubt, and one that adds another layer of intrigue to the UFO and alien question.

The short video below looks at five UFO sightings before the 1900s.


1 Brazil’s very first official UFO report in 1846, Antonio Huneeus, Open Minds, October 6th, 2010
2 1845-1859 UFO and Alien Sightings, Brazil, Think About It
3 Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times, Jacques Vallee, Chris Aubeck, ISBN 9781101 444726

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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