NUFORC data shows increase in reported UFO sightings
... began well before pandemic shutdowns
Data from the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) has been used recently in an article by The Wall Street Journal to suggest a marked increase in UFO sighting reports since the beginning of the United States’ shutdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, but a more thorough analysis of the data shows that the increase actually began almost midway through 2019—long before the pandemic or any response to it.
The article declared that "With more people at home, this is shaping up to be a banner year for extraterrestrial encounters...sightings this year are up 51% [sic] so far over the same period in 2019."
There were 3,388 sightings reported between the beginning of January and the end of August 2019, while 2020 has had 5,233 in the same period—an increase of almost 55%. April 2020 alone accounted for 20% of the sightings in its comparative period, with 1,036 sightings reported. April’s spike is 38% higher than December of 2019, which held the highest number of reported sightings that year with 751.
However, comparing the 2020 data to the preceding eight month period in 2019—from May through December—shows only a 2% increase from 4,939 sightings to 5,233 in 2020.
Furthermore, May of 2019 correlates with the initial launch of SpaceX’s Starlink test satellites, a project which has continued into 2020 with over a dozen launches and hundreds of satellites sent into orbit. May of 2019 saw a 40% increase in sightings from the previous month, and comparing May through December of 2019 with the preceding eight month period shows a 107% increase in sightings.
Overall, the pandemic shutdown appears to have had an insignificant effect on reported UFO sightings, while SpaceX’s Starlink satellite launches may have had just the opposite.
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