Did UFO sightings spike during the pandemic, study asks.


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Could the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an increase in UFO sightings? That’s the question researchers Chase Cockrell from the University of Vermont, and Mark Rodeghier and Linda Murphy from the Center for UFO Studies sought to answer in their recent study published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration.

The researchers analyzed data from the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), the two most comprehensive UFO reporting sites in the United States, from 2018 through 2020. They compared the number of UFO reports before and after the start of the pandemic and used publicly available data for social mobility from Google Community Mobility Reports, and SARS-CoV-2 cases and deaths as indirect measures of stress and anxiety.

Their analysis demonstrated that UFO reports did increase in 2020 compared to the previous year by about 600 reports in each database. However, the researchers found no association between the number of reports and social mobility and pandemic health measures, providing no support that social factors led to increased reports.

The researchers then identified the initiation of regular launches of Starlink satellites beginning in late 2019 as a complicating factor. These launches include up to 60 small satellites at once, which are very distinctive and often easily visible. As a result, many people understandably reported these as UFOs. The analysis demonstrated a relationship between a launch and subsequent reports. After removing these reports, they retested the association with the social and pandemic-health factors, but again found no relationship.

The study sheds light on the potential impact of social factors on UFO reporting, but the findings suggest that social factors such as pandemics may not have a significant impact. The researchers recommend that future research should investigate other factors that may influence reporting.

The astronomical community is concerned about the impact of Starlink and other similar projects launching large numbers of satellites in relatively low orbits and potentially degrading astronomical measurements. The authors demonstrated that the UFO community has a similar problem.

WORDS: Scientific Inquirer Staff.

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