If you have ever looked up at the night sky and wondered if there are any aliens out there, you are not alone. Many people around the world are fascinated by the possibility of extraterrestrial life and report seeing unidentified flying objects (UFOs) that they cannot explain.
However, some of these sightings may have a more mundane explanation: Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites.
Starlink is a project by SpaceX, Musk’s aerospace company, that aims to provide high-speed internet access to remote areas of the planet by launching thousands of small satellites into low Earth orbit. These satellites form a constellation that can be seen as bright dots moving across the sky in a line or a cluster.
While this may sound like an impressive feat of engineering and innovation, it also poses some problems for astronomers and UFO researchers who rely on clear and unobstructed views of the cosmos.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Starlink satellites may be responsible for an increase in UFO sightings reported in 2020.
The study was conducted by researchers from Canada and France who wanted to investigate whether the COVID-19 pandemic had any effect on UFO sightings.
They hypothesized that due to lockdowns and physical distancing measures, people would spend more time at home or outdoors than usual and might notice more unusual phenomena in the sky. They also considered that higher levels of anxiety and stress among populations could influence their perception and interpretation of what they see.
To test their hypothesis, they analyzed data from two databases that collect UFO reports from across the U.S.: the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).
They compared data from 2018 to 2020 to see if there were any changes in the number and distribution of sightings during the pandemic. They also used Google Community Mobility Reports to measure how much people moved around during this period, as well as COVID-19 cases and deaths data to gauge how severe the pandemic was in different regions.
The results showed that there was indeed an increase in UFO sightings reported to both NUFORC and MUFON in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic years. However, this increase did not seem to correlate with mobility patterns or COVID-19 severity. Instead, the researchers found another factor that could explain it: SpaceX Starlink launches.
SpaceX started launching Starlink satellites into orbit in late 2019 and has since launched over 1,700 satellites as of March 2021. These launches typically involve up to 60 satellites at once, which can create spectacular displays of lights in the sky that can be mistaken for UFOs by unsuspecting observers.
The researchers noticed that there was a strong correlation between Starlink launch dates and spikes in UFO sightings reported to NUFORC. When they removed these sightings from their analysis, they actually found a decrease in overall sightings reported to NUFORC in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic years.
This suggests that many people who reported seeing UFOs in 2020 were actually witnessing Starlink satellites passing overhead. This is not surprising given that Starlink satellites are very bright and visible even with naked eyes. They can also appear as long strings or clusters of lights that move together across the sky, which can look very unusual and mysterious.
The researchers concluded that their study shows how social factors can influence UFO reporting and how human activities can interfere with astronomical observations.
They also warned that as SpaceX continues to launch more Starlink satellites into orbit, along with other companies such as Amazon and OneWeb who have similar plans, we may see more confusion and misidentification of these artificial objects as alien spacecraft.
So next time you see something strange in the sky, don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. It might just be Elon Musk’s internet project rather than an intergalactic visitor.