Are we really alone in the universe? We don’t know, says the Pentagon.
The U.S. military on Friday delivered a report to Congress that details the findings of a task force on "unidentified aerial phenomena," more commonly referred to as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. The task force was created to investigate reports from pilots and video footage showing objects flying in ways that seem to defy our understanding of the laws of physics -- but it can't explain 143 of the 144 cases of unidentified flying objects reported by military planes.
While the report doesn't offer any clarity on the debate over whether aliens exist, people in New England have certainly had their own experiences of strange phenomena. In fact, it turns out UFO sightings are pretty common in Massachusetts alone.
The National UFO Reporting Center, a private organization that collects UFO sightings from across the country and lists them on its website, has received more than 1,800 reports of UFO sightings in the Bay State, and more beyond.
From a whale-sized crash landing in Connecticut to a possible airplane-shaped UFO in Rhode Island, here are some of the unexplainable occurrences from across New England in the last 20 years as collected on the NUFORC site, plus a searchable list of Massachusetts' sightings:
Nov. 8, 2003: Massachusetts and Connecticut
Did the skies over the East Coast have some foreign visitors? The National UFO Reporting Center received reports of a peculiar “boomerang-shaped cluster of lights” in the skies above a number of states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
May 8, 2011: New Bedford, Massachusetts
This potential UFO was silent but unpredictable. Two witnesses reported seeing two amber lights in the sky, flying lower than any airplane would in a cloudy sky. The witnesses said the lights moved silently in an erratic, C-shaped pattern.
“The more you learn, the more you understand how real this is,” says a top a journalist whose reporting on unexplained aerial phenomena helped spur the major government review of military UFO sightings.
May 21, 2011: Deer Island, Maine
This sighting was no joke, the NUFORC said. A woman driving on Highway 15 said she spotted a number of odd lights in the sky, flying below cloud level. The witness “seemed to us to be an exceptionally capable witness,” and was convinced that her report had nothing to do with “the world-wide prank that occurred on May 22nd, which encouraged people to submit bogus UFO reports.”
May 21, 2011: Norwich, Vermont
Was it a meteor, or something more? One witness was driving north on I-91 when they saw four big, bright lights gather together and then disperse. The witness, who originally believed the lights to be a meteor, said the faint, blinking light continued to travel in the sky while heading southwest.
April 12, 2012: Litchfield, Connecticut
Is it possible Litchfield played host to a massive UFO splash landing? A green, glowing object the size of a whale fell out of the sky and plunged into Litchfield Lake. The sighting was reported separately by a motorist who was driving in Litchfield around 2 a.m. and by a state trooper who witnessed the event from 10 miles away in Warren.
Nov. 20, 2013: Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Witnesses were seeing red in this incident: a cluster of six red lights rose into the sky and then moved into a circular formation. Two witnesses reported that the lights stayed in the same formation for five minutes before disappearing one by one.
Dec. 11, 2013: West Ossipee, New Hampshire
If this was a UFO, it was just passing through! Driving north on Route 16, a woman, her sister and her husband said they witnessed eight orange balls of light appear in the sky out of nowhere. The lights appeared one by one, parallel to each other and evenly spaced out, and then vanished just suddenly as they arrived.
Jan. 26, 2019: Cranston, Rhode Island
If it looks like a plane and it flies like a plane … it might still be a UFO? A witness was in an Uber in Cranston when he saw an object that looked like a plane -- aside from the fact that it was hovering in the air, completely still. The witness said the object didn’t have any logos or writing on it, just a yellow stripe down the middle, with red coloring at the ends. The witness also reported having “very out of the ordinary good luck” following the sighting, though they acknowledged that might have been unrelated.
Despite the large quantity of reports -- the National UFO Reporting Center database is home to thousands -- science has yet to determine for certain the answer to perhaps the biggest question in the universe. While we wait, you can report any UFO sightings here.
In Massachusetts, the number of UFO sightings has been trending higher since around 2010, according to records maintained by the NUFORC. It has collected more than 1,800 reports from the Bay State, most within the last decade. Search them below.
NBC10 Boston's Jim Haddadin contributed to this report.