Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Very Detailed Map of UFO Sightings

Based on data from the National UFO Reporting Center, the map below displays over 90,000 reports of UFO sightings dating back to 1905. Each circle corresponds to a reported UFO, with the size representing the number of reports received. Thanks also to the Mutual UFO Network for allowing me to reproduce images and videos from their website.

American ufo sightings mapping image
Map of UFO sightings USA

The most reported UFO sightings
Assuming more reported sightings = more credible, these are the 10 most credible UFO sightings in recent history in the U.S.

1) Tinley Park Lights, Tinley Park, IL (10/2004) – 77 reports 

2) Cone of Light, East Coast (9/2009) – 75 reports 

3) Tinley Park Lights, Tinley Park, IL (10/2005) – 72 reports 

4) Phoenix Lights, Phoenix, AZ (3/1997) – 65 reports 

5) Blue-Green Fireball, the Midwest (7/1997) – 63 reports 

6) Tinley Park Lights, Tinley Park, IL (8/2004) – 45 reports 

7) Blue-Green Fireball, the Midwest (11/1999) – 43 reports 

8) Washginton Fireball, Renton, WA (7/2012) – 40 reports 

9) Rockford Lights, Rockford, IL (1/2001) – 25 reports 

10) Lights Over NJ Turnpike, Carteret, NJ (7/2001) – 25 reports

UFO news map
UFO comparison image
From let to right: N.America seen from orbit, UFO sightings since 1905, Density map of 24h of traffic (FAA, 2008).

Some possible explanations Illinois is involved in 6 of the 10 UFO sightings listed above, as well as several other mass UFO sightings further down the list. I thought that was interesting because when you look at the total UFO reports per capita, IL actually ranks pretty low compared with other states.

My initial thought was that it must have something to do with O’Hare Airport, the busiest airport in the U.S. through most of this period. Are there many UFO sightings around other busy airports?

ufo map
Clear UFO sightings
The five busiest airports in the U.S.

The blue markers are the five busiest airports in the U.S. Aside from Chicago, it does not appear there is much correlation between mass UFO sightings and big airports. One pattern I did notice was that many of the mass UFO sightings occur particular dates. Here is what you get if you plot the number of UFO sightings for each day of the year.

UFO chart

UFOs seem to have a penchant for firework displays. Both #5 and #8 in the list above occurred on the Fourth of July. And in both cases, the UFOs were described as “fireballs.” Aside from the obvious explanation, it could just be that more people are looking up at the sky on those nights. Take a look at these three videos of the “Washington Fireball” UFO sighting and see whether you think they are actually fireworks. Some of the bigger UFO sightings also coincide with large meteor showers or space craft launches. Though when I looked into it, the effect did not come out very strong. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know, and I will add them here. Update: A few people asked about seeing a comparison of UFO sightings vs military bases. Here is a plot of all military installations, ranges, and training areas. Though without an idea of which ones to focus on, I think there are too many to draw any real conclusions.

UFO sightings in relation to Military bases

And here is the trend of reported sightings over time. For the past 20 years, it has been growing at a pretty steady rate of about 350 additional reports each year.

Over time UFO reports