UFOs, or unidentified flying objects, have stirred our imagination for generations.
Sightings of these alleged interstellar visitors to Earth have been chronicled throughout history. However, the mania for UFOs shifted into hyperdrive in 1947, when flying saucer enthusiasts believed the remains of an otherworldly spacecraft, and even the corpse of an alien, were discovered in Roswell, New Mexico. The U.S. government said in 1994 that the remains were debris from a neoprene balloon used in a top-secret government surveillance project.
Many people who report a UFO sighting have reported the object without the use of viewing apparatus such as a telescope. Weather, among other variables, can trick an observer into thinking he or she has seen something unusual. There are thousands of UFO sightings reported every year, including several made by airline pilots and astronauts. Many sightings are compiled by the National UFO Reporting Center, which disseminates what it calls credible UFO reports.
UFO reporting levels vary by state. In states with cold winters, sightings increase dramatically during summer months, when more residents are spending their leisure time outdoors. The five states with the most reported UFO sightings per 100,000 people are all northern states, and three of them — Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine — are located in New England. By comparison, UFO reports don’t fluctuate much during the year in southern states, where weather and daylight conditions don’t vary as much.
To determine the states with the most UFO sightings, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2001-2015 sightings per 100,000 people with data from Cheryl Costa’s “UFO Sightings Desk Reference: United States of America 2001-2015: Unidentified Flying Objects Frequency–Distribution–Shapes.” 2001-2015 total sightings also came from the same source. Sightings per 100,000 was calculated using the 2001-2015 raw sightings figures and the 2017 American Consumer Survey 1-Year population estimates. Population density figures were calculated using 2017 population estimates and 2010 land area in square miles — both from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share of households without internet is from the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Consumer Survey. One of the reasons reports of UFO sightings surged at the turn of the last century was the significant increase in broadband internet access made reporting considerably easier.