With Wednesday's announcement of seven Earth-sized planets around the dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, everyone is ready to go full Giorgio A. Tsoukalos. But it's not just NASA's revelation that has people feeling this way. UFO sightings at large have been rising rapidly over the last 30 years.
Statistician Sam Monfort put this into stark relief by creating visualizations of data from the National UFO Reporting Centre. As you can see below, the number of reported sightings began to skyrocket in the '80s.
The data presented comes from a single source and doesn't offer exact reasons why the rise is happening, but there are plenty of reasonable assumptions that can be made. The increased prevalence of drones, military aircraft, commercial aircraft, and satellites, among a host of other reasons, likely accounts for a portion of the rise. Additionally, the internet has made it easier to know where and how to report sightings. And smartphones have made it easier to snag a picture of your otherworldly encounter.
As Monfort breaks down the data, a few interesting nuggets rise to the surface. For instance, the number of flying saucer sightings has been declining despite the overall rise in UFO sightings. (It's worth remembering "UFO" doesn't necessarily mean people are seeing the grocery getter for little green people. A UFO is simply an unidentified object in the sky.)
An interesting piece of Monfort's visualization are the maps showing where UFO sightings are reported. Among the countries that see the most UFOs, you find Canada, Mexico, Australia, and Scandinavian nations. For many countries on the low end of the scale, internet access is probably a factor.
However, with this map, it's worth noting Monfort capped the data to keep a readable scale. That's because the U.S. has an insane number of UFO sightings. Americans report seeing UFOs at a rate 300 times greater than any other nation.
Also, hilariously, the number of UFO sightings in the U.S. spikes on July 4. But that makes sense because it's a provable fact that aliens love fireworks.
Inside the U.S., Montana and Washington state report intergalactic sedans most frequently per capita. Though, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Oregon aren't far behind. Despite the presence of "Florida Man," you might be surprised to find few reports of UFOs come out of Florida.
While the data from the NUFORC is interesting, it's
probably definitely not a sign the aliens are preparing the planet for invasion so they can lay their eggs in your chest. That's probably not happening. Err... yeah. Probably not. Right?