The reports starting rolling into the National UFO Reporting Center a little after sunset on Oct. 7, 2018.
“Semi-cloaked huge light ball in Santa Rosa,” one anonymous report breathlessly reads. “Emits light swirls in circular pattern facing earth, then upwards then vanished.”
“The object fell for several minutes and disappeared at distant hills/houses,” wrote a spotter in Richmond. “We were on the freeway (I wasn’t the driver) and I was using my phone so the video didn’t catch as much as the naked eye did.”
“I am a skeptical science guy,” concluded one Walnut Creek report, “and [I] have never seen anything ever like this.”
It was strange, thrilling and terrifying. It was also the task of a member of NUFORC to go through the incoming UFO reports and, perhaps a little sadly, note, “rocket launch” next to each one.
Such is the nature of NUFORC, a database “dedicated to the collection and dissemination of objective UFO data.” In operation since 1974, NUFORC provides a 24-hour hotline and online form to report UFO activity. It has received over 90,000 reports since its inception, including hundreds from California just in the last year.
To see some of the most interesting Bay Area reports of 2018, click through the gallery above.
Spotters are asked for a few basic facts. Shape (triangle, oval and sphere are among the most common), duration of sighting and city. There’s a space to describe the encounter and a space for NUFORC employees to respond. Some are marked “hoax”; others offer possible explanations (“twinkling star?”).
The majority of California reports are from Southern California, perhaps indicating the busy air traffic above the Bay Area — and the persistent fog lowering visibility — is hindering would-be UFO sightings. Interestingly, there were zero UFO sightings reported for San Francisco in 2018.
There’s also another explanation.
In 2014, The Economist used NUFORC data to determine the most common times of sightings. They concluded “drinking hours,” between 6 p.m. and midnight, had the most reports. Fridays, in particular, were big for UFO sightings.
If not Elon Musk rocket launches or drinking-buddy visions, what could these unidentified flying objects be? As Popular Science reported in 2017, most of the “UFO” sightings from the past 80 years were, indeed, aircraft. But they’re not from space; they’re often top-secret government test craft, revealed to the public decades later in declassified documents.
So if you look up in the night sky and see something that can’t be explained, maybe you did see a UFO. Just not of the extraterrestrial variety.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/california-bay-area-ufo-sightings-reports-13541713.php.