Chuck Shramek 12/27/1950 - 05/23/2000
This morning I had a telephone call from a good friend of mine asking me if I had heard the latest. I wasn’t sure which latest he was referring to, so I told him no. "It’s all over the net" he said, "Chuck Shramek has died." He caught me by surprise. "What did you say?" I asked in disbelief. "Shramek died?" I stopped for a second. "Damn, that is a shock" I kind of mumbled. I had known Shramek for years although he and I had never "met". I first made Chuck’s acquaintance when he was a caller on my old radio show "UFOs Tonite!" Over the next few years Chuck was a frequent caller on the program. He always proved to have a great sense of humor, was erudite and generally a joy to talk to. Then the "Comet" happened.
It was November of 1996 and the huge story of the day was the Hale Bopp Comet. A beautiful and fiery display in the heavens, Hale Bopp was wowing all. One evening in November the Art Bell program received a call from Shramek. An amateur astronomer, Shramek had been "imaging" the comet with his 10" SC telescope and a CCD camera. In the photo Shramek took there appeared to be another body close to the comet that had a "ring like" form around this mysterious body. Shramek called it a "Saturn Like Object". He emailed it to Bell who quickly placed it on his website. The storm broke!
Shramek was attacked across the board from all corners of the skeptical world. Alan Hale, co-discoverer of the Hale Bopp Comet, accused Shramek of "promoting government conspiracies, promoting the work of fringe writers that include Richard Hoagland and Zecharia Sitchin."
Now let’s stop for just a second. All Shramek did was photograph the Comet and report on this mysterious object. He _never_ claimed it was anything but odd. He checked his computer database program and could not locate any star that might have been the object. He was baffled and said so. So he did what anyone who knew Chuck would expect Chuck to do, retaliate by explaining how he feels about the term "butthead astronomers!" Vintage Shramek.
The Hale Bopp fiasco ended on a not very jolly note with 39 members of an obscure UFO cult committing suicide. This sordid tale did not die down for several years and Chuck was always quick to explain what happened from his end of the spectrum. Oh yes, I should also note that Chuck was very quick to take note and report to the public NASA’s peccadillos when it concerned the truth about items like Mars, the Moon, UFOs and fabricated statements about all of the above.
Chuck succumbed to cancer on May 23, 2000. He was 49 years of age. I will miss him.
May 24th 2000
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