I hope you all had your telescopes pointed towards the sky on Wednesday: it was World UFO Day! It's a celebration when conspiracy theorists gather to swap stories of alien abductions and strange sightings. In search of the truth, here are 16 facts about our extraterrestrial overlords.
1.) The first reported UFO sighting occurred around 1450 BC
Perhaps the earliest recorded UFO sighting occurred around 1450 BC when Egyptians observed bright circles of light in the sky. These early sightings are now believed to be natural astronomical events, such as comets, meteors or planets. [Image Credit: UFO Contact]
2.) UFOs are changing shape
What struck experts most when the British National Archive released years of UFO documents is how the reported sightings changed shape over time. During the early 1950s, UFOs would appear in a streamlined circular shape, but as stealth technology developed UFOs mysteriously began adopting a more angular shape (similar to B-2 bombers). It would appear alien design mimics Earth's modern technology. Coincidence? It seems not. [Image Credit: Leak Source]
3.) What is Area 51 really used for?
Area 51 has always been listed in official documents as a 'secret' military base, used to test experimental military hardware. The area was chosen due to the flat lake beds nearby that are perfect for launching and landing large aircraft. The US Government have always remained tight-lipped about the location, but that hasn't stopped information from leaking out.
But why do people associate Area 51 with alien intelligence? Well in 1989, a 'government scientist' named Robert Lazar appeared on Las Vegas TV, alleging that Area 51 was full of alien technology. This single television appearance started the myth even though Lazar was debunked as a complete fraud shortly after. [Image Credit: Mattia Notari Flickr]
4.) The Japanese First Lady claims she's been abducted by aliens
Have you ever wondered why the Japanese are so technologically advanced? Perhaps it's because their First Lady is pally with aliens. Miyuki Hatoyama, the wife of former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama, claims, "While my body was sleeping, I think my spirit flew on a triangular-shaped UFO to Venus; it was an extremely beautiful place and was very green." [Image Credit: Republic of Korea Flickr]
5.) Space spirals are actually rocket exhaust fumes
If I saw this appear in the sky, I'd think it was a UFO, but it's not. These attractive blue and white spirals are created from rockets (usually with broken stabilisers), throwing out exhaust fumes or leaking their payload. The two colours come from the first and second stages of the rocket. Although not captured in pictures, these spirals appear to rotate in the sky. [Image Credit: High Powered Rocketry]
6.) Seven out of ten abductees state they were used for sexual experiments
In 1957 Antônio Vilas-Boas, a Brazilian farmer, reported that he had been abducted by aliens who covered him in gel and mated with him. After this original report, Harvard found that 70 per cent of encounters include breeding or sexual experiments. [Image Credit: Kenneth Branagh Compendium]
7.) Closing the UFO Investigation Unit saved the MoD £50,000 per year
In 2009 the Ministry of Defence closed its UFO Investigation Unit, a force which for 50 years collected reports of all UFO sightings in the UK. The collection reports can now be viewed online or via an app. [Image Credit: National Archives]
8.) Is anything more secret than top secret?
The current order of British secrecy begins with 'Unclassified', then elevates to 'Protect', 'Restricted', 'Confidential', 'Secret' and finally 'Top Secret'. UFO conspiracy theorists would have you believe there are actually 38 more levels above top secret.
These include 'Cosmic', a level that even the US President doesn't have clearance for and 'CANUKUS' which are files which can only be shared between Canada, the UK and the US. While these levels of secrecy do exist, they're just used for national document transfer and not a massive government cover-up. [Image Credit: Michelangelo Carrieri Flickr]
9.) Not even UFO conspiracy theorists think Roswell was an alien crash site
On July 2nd 1947 an unidentified flying object crashed on a farm near Roswell, New Mexico. The most popular theory surrounding the crash is that the object was of alien origin; more level-headed theorists have suggested it was an experimental high-altitude surveillance balloon, named Project Mogul. [Image Credit: Open Minds]
10.) 15 per cent of UFO sightings are balloons
UFO you say? Are you sure it's not the moon? Or a balloon? The joint most-used common explanation for a UFO is aircraft or astronomical events, each accounting for 22 per cent of cases (44 per cent in total). The third most common 'UFO' sighting is actually a balloon and other common explanations include light phenomena, birds, clouds, dust and hallucinations. Only 8.6 per cent of modern UFOs are actually unexplainable. [Image Credit: Taro Taylor Flickr]
11.) The global UFO hotspot is in Scotland
You'd be forgiven for thinking that most UFOs are spotted in the southern states of America, but you'd be wrong: the global UFO hotspot is a lot closer to home, in Scotland. Bonnybridge has an impressive 300 sightings, which is the highest number of any town in the world. [Image Credit: Google Maps]
12.) Crop circles are made from 'stalk stompers'
The origin of the modern crop circles began in 1978 with hoaxers Doug Bower and David Chorley. Bower and Chorley created the patterns using a plank with a rope attached called a 'stalk stomper'. The couple were inspired by various reports of naturally occurring crop circles in Australia, which were most likely the result of dust-devils. [Image Credit: Wikimedia]
13.) E.T. was one of the first films to feature product placement
Steven Spielberg originally wanted to use M&Ms to lure the little alien across the screen, but when Mars Company denied their request, Reese's Pieces were used instead. As a direct result, the sales of Reese's Pieces skyrocketed leading to a boom in modern product placement in films.
Bonus Fact: E.T's puppetry was controlled by many different people, including a 2"10' stuntman and a 10-year-old boy who was born without legs. [Image Credit: Strong Island]
14.) Any reply to an extraterrestrial signal should be from all of humanity
Do you know the official protocol when making contact with an extraterrestrial beings? According to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), if you make contact with an alien, the first thing you should do is check that it's real (duh). Once confirmed you should proceed to contact other countries who have signed up to SETI and alert astronomers online and through the media.
You must then follow SETI's reply protocols; the United Nations should decide whether to reply and what the reply should include. The message should be on behalf of all humanity, not just one person, nation or group and it must be published before transmission. Finally, an institution must be established in the event a reply takes a long time. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]
15.) Meet the Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate
Perhaps one of Louis Theroux's weirdest encounters was with Reverend Robert Shaw, self-proclaimed Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate. Shaw claims he can communicate with an alien from another dimension. I'll let you watch the video and decide for yourself. [Image Credit: Louis Theroux Weird Weekends]
16.) Alien contact has never, ever, been made
There has never, ever, been a single shred of credible evidence to support extraterrestrial intelligence contacting Earth.
Or at least, that's what they want you to believe.
[Image Credit: Dr. Jays Live]
[Featured Image Credit: Man Running Away From UFO Shutterstock]