The Science Behind the Betty Hill Star Map

My guest writer today is Steve Pearse who became interested in UFO phenomenon nearly 20 years ago, leading him to conduct in-depth, science-based research on different issues, and to publish articles and books on extraterrestrials, alien abduction cases, and the reality of mythological creatures from history.  Steve is one the foremost experts on the Betty Hill star map and the theory that it portrayed the region of Zeta Reticuli.

In the world of Ufology, the 1961 case of Betty and Barney Hill stands out as the first instance of alien abduction to become widely publicized, and is still considered to be one of the best documented.  (For further information, Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, co-authored by Stan Friedman and Kathleen Marden – Betty Hill’s niece – is an excellent resource.)  There are those who tried to tear down the Hills’ narrative of being abducted by aliens commonly known as the “Greys,” and those who rushed to embrace it.  Unfortunately, those who embraced it often ended up undermining the original evidence.

One such person is Marjorie Fish, a school teacher from Ohio who was fascinated with UFOs.  She followed the Betty and Barney Hill saga, and was excited to come across a sketch of the “Star Map” that Betty Hill drew under hypnosis after the abduction; Betty Hill reported she was shown this map while on the aliens’ craft, and that the Greys told Betty that this was a representation of the star system from which they originated.  Marjorie Fish decided to do her own investigation about where the aliens could have come from.  Using several databases she “determined” the Star Map was a drawing of Zeta Reticuli.

Marjorie Fish’s Zeta theory has inherent problems, however, because her pattern of stars failed to match Betty Hill’s star map – in fact it’s a classic case of bending the facts to match the theory.  Unfortunately, because the Zeta Reticuli theory has been so closely tied to the Betty and Barney Hill abduction, many people have asserted that the failure of the former puts the later in doubt.

Betty Hill’s Star Map

Over time, the story of Betty and Barney Hill’s 1961 abduction became sensational news.  It was investigated by NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena), was investigated by Project Blue Book; Dr. J. Allen Hynek (well-known UFO skeptic later turned believer) interviewed them; and the1966 book by John Fuller, The Interrupted Journey, brought their story to the general public.  In the meanwhile, the Hills were suffering from anxiety, emotional distress, gaps in their memories and strange dreams.  They decided to undergo hypnosis therapy with Dr. Benjamin Simon to help them remember what happened that night. 

In March, 1964 while she was under hypnosis with Dr. Simon, Betty Hill mentioned seeing a star map while on the alien craft, saying she could almost draw it.  Since Betty expressed a reluctance to sketch the map in that session, Dr. Simon gave her a post-hypnotic suggestion that she draw the star map (if she could remember it accurately), instructing her not to pay attention to what she was drawing. According to experts, this is a way of getting at repressed or forgotten material and can result in unusual accuracy. 

When she returned home, Betty Hill drew the star map – about two and one-half years after she was abducted.  But can something drawn so long after the event be accurate?  Kathleen Marden, Betty Hill’s niece, has stated that her aunt had photographic memory, going on to say that the distances and prominence of the stars should be assumed to be correct. 

The Map Becomes Public

While Betty and Barney Hill were happy to speak with family, friends, church groups and UFO investigators about their abduction, they didn’t seek publicity and lived their lives as before.  That changed with the publication of John Fuller’s Interrupted Journey, which brought their experience into the public eye.  Betty’s star map was included in the book. 

It was at this point that Marjorie Fish sat down with the Star Map, consulted various astronomical databases, and came up with the theory that the aliens that had abducted Betty and Barney Hill were from the Zeta Reticuli star system. 

But the creation of her Zeta Reticuli ‘base-star’ theory required a significant alteration of the star map. Fish cut out nearly all of the space between the stars pictured. (If Betty Hill’s rendition of the star map is accurate – as claimed by her niece Kathleen Marden – there is no legitimate reason to manipulate the spatial distance between the two large nickel sized stars.)  Even worse is the fact that the ZR route to Sol/Earth is off by light years in the wrong direction.  Fish also assumed that the background stars of Betty Hill’s star map were just added for affect – she eliminated them to make her theory fit: “The background stars, with the exception of the triangle which has relatively bright stars near the surface of the map, were put in just to show there were background stars. These probably do not represent individual stars.”  The triangle feature that Betty Hill had described as “quite prominent” in her star map, was essentially eliminated by Marjorie Fish’s Z-R theory.  To make her theory fit, Marjorie Fish also made the assumption that the star map was to be viewed from an unknown slice of space looking vertically up, which means she had to use stars in multiple constellations to recreate the pattern of Betty Hill’s star map.

After six years of intensive research, Marjorie Fish presented her evidence to the 1974 UFO Symposium and announced to the world that the aliens in Betty Hill’s abduction story came from a star system called Zeta Reticuli.  There were many who had misgivings, including Carl Sagan who soundly rejected her theory – he tried to replicate the star map using her candidate stars, and was unable to validate her theory that the two large nickel sized stars were “base stars” of Zeta Reticuli. 

Despite this, Fish’s theory was well received by many, including MUFON.  Stanton Friedman (also referred to as the “Father of Modern UFOlogy), in particular, took every opportunity – television interviews, lectures, articles, etc – to expound on and promote the Zeta Reticuli theory. MUFON began treating the Z-R theory as doctrine.

Fast forward four decades to our present day, the stars that Fish selected to use in her Zeta Reticuli Interpretation were never updated. When Kathleen Marden (Betty Hill’s niece) and Stanton Friedman released their book Captured! Charles Huffer, a MUFON investigator chastised them for not updating her theory.  He discovered that two of the triangle stars were outside of the boundaries of her theory that stated that all of the stars were within 55 light years of Zeta Reticuli. (Note: This was independently discovered by the author.)  This voids her triangle.

In addition to the original problems with Marjorie Fish’s theory, recent scientific developments have put additional nails into the coffin.  In the past the Southern Hemisphere was poorly observed, and many of Fish’s selected sun-like stars have been confirmed to be both binary and variable. The worst news comes from the Astronomy, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium Astronauts blog which places the age of Zeta Reticuli at two billion years, and says that their youth may count against the possibility of higher forms of life having evolved on Zeta Reticulian worlds.

Marjorie Fish passed away in 2013.  In her obituary (brought to the attention of the UFO community by this author) it stated that because of the increased information about the Z-R system, she no longer felt it likely that her map was a match with the Betty Hill star map.  This makes it all the more confusing that the Z-R theory holds the status of sacred cow at MUFON, which has made great efforts to scientifically investigate UFO and abductee phenomena. Why hold on so tightly to this theory when its obvious failings have the effect of casting doubt on the original case?

The logical conclusion: The Greys don’t come from Zeta Reticuli….

(Note: The meticulous science-based detail Steve Pearce use’s in his analysis of the Z-R theory is characteristic of how he approaches the subjects he investigates.  This length of this article was not sufficient to include all his data, so I urge readers to continue the story with the website and books listed below.)


About the Author

Steve Pearse served in the military with the United States Army Security Agency (77th Special Operations Unit (SOU) with a highly classified Top Secret Clearance teletype crypto clearance stationed at Clark Airbase Base in the Philippines. He is now a lay scientist, book writer, and  retired business professional with over 25 years of experience in the field of credit management, and as an accounting specialist in account reconciliation of State, Federal, and Mass Merchandiser AP accounts. In additional to several articles in various publications, Steve is author of two books:  Set Your Phaser to Stun, and Earth Is Our Planet, Too!  Some of his additional research can be seen at  Contact Steve at:

Steve has been married to his wife for over 40 years, has two grown children, two grandchildren, and one dog.


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  1. So, the star map isn’t a perfect duplicate therefore it can’t be? And an astronomer who’s never seen life outside of our galaxy says Zeta must be “too young” for life, so it’s the final nail in the coffin. Thank goodness researchers like this writer exist, to keep me from researching the other accounts numbering in the hundreds, including by very high-level whistleblowers that Ebens from the Zeta system have indeed been abducting and watching us for a long time now. “Greys”, while commonly confused with Ebens, are different from them and have more malice in their intentions. With that said MUFON “holds on tightly to the theory” because of the number of these testimonies including from high-level officials like Paul Hellyer. Whether one believes these testimonies are all false or not, it’s difficult to agree Mr Pearse’s or anyone’s analysis of the star map is meticulous, if it holds to too rigorous a demand to conform to perfect recollections or “book” science only.

  2. I believe , I will always believe

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