Have you ever been witness to a UFO sighting? According to data by Kaggle UFO Sightings, if you have, you're not alone: there have been around 60,000 reported sightings between 1995 and 2014. Furthermore, depending on your location, you might be living in a hot spot for alien sightings in the U.S — as the map from Kaggle reveals that there are certain regions in the country where UFO sightings seem to be heavily concentrated. Is your town on the list?
Interestingly, the Pacific region (all along the west coast) is a popular spot for UFO sightings. The three main hot spots seem to be the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, and the northeast — so if you live in those areas, you may be a lot more likely to see a UFO than you thought. Moving inward to the Rocky Mountain region, the southwest, and parts of the midwest, things get fairly quiet. But as you travel further into the midwest, southeast, and northeast, the map lights up like a Christmas tree. If you want your best chances at spotting a UFO, you should definitely head northeast — the area of the map is almost entirely covered.
The map certainly reveals interesting patterns, and makes us wonder why the aliens seem to enjoy the west and east coasts more than other parts of our beautiful nation.
Is it a mere coincidence that UFOs largely stick to states close to water? Maybe not. Recently, Alan Stern — a former NASA scientist who now works at the Southwest Research Institute in Texas — explained the high likelihood aliens are living below frozen oceans on other planets. The majority of habitable planets, actually, are very likely covered almost completely in water.
In fact, there is a good chance aliens look more like fish than they do creepy versions of humans. Is it that far-fetched to believe, then, that maybe aliens are house hunting in the areas that more closely resemble the watery environment of their home planet? Water is one of few things vital for life to exist; in fact, when it comes to the search for alien life, researchers and scientists follow a common rule of thumb: "follow the water." Anytime we find evidence of water on another planet, the very next question is typically: could that planet be sustaining life, then? Knowing the importance and value of water, it really isn't all that odd to think that aliens would choose to stick to areas adjacent to good old H20.
Aside from revealing the best places in the U.S. to see a UFO, Kaggle's data also pointed to another intriguing finding: the sharp increase of UFO sightings in more recent years.
Starting around 2009, activity picked up noticeably; and by 2012, reported aliens were all, "We're going to America!" According to statistician Sam Monfort, reported UFO sightings shot up from around 2,500 in 1980 to 45,000 in 2010.
But why? There are a few reasons.
For starters, the answer could be that reported UFO sightings haven't really picked up; but with the rapid advancement of technology and social media, we're simply hearing about it more. Monfort makes a thought-provoking point: at the onset of the rise of the internet, sightings of flying objects, specifically, actually went down, while sightings of mysterious lights went up. Did camera phones make it harder for people to claim to see flying saucers, since we'd have no excuse not to film them? Lights in the sky, on the other hand, are easy to film, debate, and argue as signs of aliens.
Monfort made another point that forces us to question the significant climb in sightings: understandably, sightings are higher than average on the Fourth of July. This could be because aliens use fireworks to disguise their own aircrafts (spooky!), or because we see fireworks and think they're aliens. But, Monfort says, why did the "Fourth of July effect" only kick in around 2008?
Finally, there's this explanation: more and more aliens are visiting earth, plain and simple. They're probably going to land really soon, stop by all of our homes to say hello, and then add us as friends on Facebook. Or maybe... they're already here. Consider all the stories of humans claiming they were abducted by aliens — we don't think every single one of them is a hoax, do we? (No.) Sure, ET enthusiasts might find a way to prove alien life even when it isn't there — like the mysterious ghost lady found on Mars — but that doesn't mean that somewhere out there, fishy looking aliens with giant heads and big eyes aren't walking around studying human behavior and wondering why we take so many selfies.
If you're a true stargazer and want to increase the odds of finding a UFO, Kaggle's data suggests that July through January are the busiest months (in other words, hurry TF up because it's almost January), and the best time of the week is Saturday night, between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Happy UFO hunting!