What is your opinion on UFOs

The question of whether there is extraterrestrial life cannot be answered with certainty. But astronomers today largely agree that, given the sheer number of Earth-like planets out there, it would be strange if Mother Earth were the only place in the universe where intelligent life was possible.

Much more controversial is the question of whether extraterrestrial life forms 14.8 billion years after the Big Bang are intelligent enough to pay a visit to the earth every now and then. In the United States, a fair number of people consider this to be an absolute given. What prompts them to report their observations of unidentified flying objects, UFOs for short, to the National U.F.O. Report Reporting Center (Nuforc) in Washington state on the west coast.

Contrary to all distance rules, it seems that there were a particularly large number of UFOs in the sky over the USA in 2020. The Nuforc reports that in the past year the number of reported sightings increased by 1000 compared to 2019 to 7200. UFOs have appeared particularly frequently in the state of New York. There the number of sightings doubled to 300. In the first three months of the current year alone, 726 UFOs were reported.

On March 31, for example, a "group of three very bright lights" was seen flying in formation in Camillus, a four and a half hour drive north of New York City. On March 28, in Troutman, North Carolina, someone observed a cigar-shaped UFO that shot over 100 meters above him and then disappeared into the clouds. And on March 25, someone claims to have sighted an entire fleet of UFOs in Sequim, Washington State.

However, it is the ufologists who dispel the obvious theory that extraterrestrials would have shown a particular interest in the earth in the pandemic year. Peter Davenport, director of the UFO reporting center, explained in the New York Timesthat only a fraction of the sightings remain inexplicable after a review. And that the increase in sightings has a lot more to do with the many city dwellers that the pandemic has driven into the countryside.

One difference is that the air is clearer in the country. There is less light pollution. And suddenly the eye is confronted with movements and lights in the sky that it would never see in the city. A shooting star or a satellite can ring the alarm bells.

In addition, the government under President Donald Trump gave the UFO observers a credibility stamp for the first time: last summer, the Pentagon set up a "task force for unidentifiable aerial phenomena". In April it had released three Navy videos of such phenomena. Under Trump, future governments were also obliged to regularly publish a publicly available UFO report. The first is due in June. That triggered a little "look in the air" boom.

For UFO hunters like Peter Davenport, it's like an accolade. Before that, the government treated people like him as if they were crazy. "But we are not."