05:59 GMT18 May 2021
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    Residents of the state of New York were particularly "lucky" in spotting mysterious objects in the sky. According to the US National UFO Reporting Centre (NUFORC), reports of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena nearly doubled in 2020 to 300 compared to the previous year.

    Sighting of UFOs jumped by about 1,000 in the United States in 2020, with more and more people reporting cryptic flying objects in the sky, local media reported. The National UFO Reporting Centre (NUFORC) said there were 7,200 sightings of UFOs in the US last year. Virginia Stringfellow, a resident of the city of Rochester, NY, who holds monthly meetings of people who reportedly encountered mysterious objects, said five new people came on average to tell their stories of meeting a UFO.

    A retired police officer, who wished to remain anonymous, told The New York Times that the true number of UFO sightings might be higher as fear of being ridiculed by members of the community prevents people from sharing their experiences.

    So what is behind the surge of UFO sightings? According to ufologists it has nothing to do with "aliens'" desire to visit the Earth.

    Blame COVID-19

    Fear of the infectious disease and safety restrictions caused many Americans to relocate to rural areas, where there is little public lighting and skies are clear due to the lack of pollution, ufologists say. This detail as well as more free time due to working from home made many people spend more time outdoors looking at the sky and see things that they never noticed when living in big cities.

    Blame Elon Musk aka You See What You Want to See

    According to Peter Davenport, the director of the US National UFO Reporting Centre, the vast majority of the reports about UFO sightings and extraterrestrial life turn out to be ordinary things, such as drones, birds, falling stars, and planes. Last September, people in New Jersey got out of their cars on a highway to film what they believed was an alien spaceship. The latter turned out to be a blimp owned by tire manufacturing company Goodyear.

    Warning the video contains strong language.

    ​Many reported UFO sightings were in fact satellites made by Elon Musk's SpaceX. The company is working on a Starlink project designed to provide high-speed broadband internet across the world. It has already launched more than a thousand satellites to low earth-orbit and plans to finish the project by 2027, creating a constellation of 12,000 satellites, which many stargazers have already mistaken for "alien spaceships".

    Blame the Pentagon and Donald Trump

    Another issue that may explain the surge of UFO sightings is the decision by US Defence Department to declassify previously leaked videos, which the Pentagon said showed "unidentified aerial phenomena", as well as the Pentagon's decision to create a task force to investigate UFO sightings.

    Peter Davenport said the moves seemed like a U-turn on the government's previous stance, when authorities refused to comment on mysterious sightings or acted as if numerous testimonies of witnesses were the result of a wild imagination.

    Former President Donald Trump poured oil on the fire at the end of December when he signed a coronavirus relief bill, which among other things, had a strange provision requiring the Pentagon to brief Congress on all the information it possesses about unidentified flying objects within 180 days.

    "It's encouraging to many of us in the field of ufology that the government is willing to confirm that they are aware of these circumstances, that they are conceding that people are reporting these events", said Peter Davenport.

    Davenport said that only a small fraction of the reports the US National UFO Reporting Centre receives from people turn out to be truly unidentifiable.

    Incidentally, besides the surge in UFO sightings during the pandemic there has also been an increase in reports of paranormal activity.

    COVID-19, pandemic, United States, UFO
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