Got your binoculars handy? July 2 is World UFO Day, and this year UFO supporters are in the spotlight thanks to a flood of UFO news. This includes UFO incident reports from Navy pilots and former Pentagon intelligence officers and the release of classified UFO research from the NSA (National Security Agency). All of this activity means that for the first time in years, UFO reports are being taken seriously by the media.
UFO hotspots in the United States
So how often are UFOs whizzing through your state? Check out this map that uses data from the National UFO Reporting Center to find out if your state is a hub of extraterrestrial activity.
According to the data, UFO hotspots include Washington State (the home of the National UFO Reporting Center), Montana, and Vermont. Alaska and Maine are also popular states for alien encounters. Surprisingly, New Mexico—home to the city of Roswell—grabbed the eighth spot on our list.
What’s a UFO?
A UFO is anything in the sky that can’t be identified. In the late 1940s, the US Air Force started using the phrase “unidentified flying object” to describe any type of mysterious aircraft. When we hear the word UFO, we might start thinking of flying saucers filled with green aliens. The truth is less exciting. Most UFOs are later identified as drones, satellites, or weather balloons. But even after decades of research, up to 5% of UFO reports remain unexplained. Is this proof of alien visitation? Or just an elaborate 60-year hoax?
Best states to spot a UFO
Spoiler alert: all the UFOs aren’t in Roswell, the Nevada desert, or even along America’s so-called “UFO highway.”
Every single state has reports of eerie lights, erratically moving aircraft, or mysterious metal saucers. But recent data shows the most UFO activity in northern states.
If you’re hoping to make an extraterrestrial friend or two, here are the best places to live for UFO sightings.
Where you can hide from UFOs
Not everyone wants to see a UFO. If you’re scrambling to avoid an alien abduction, the safest place for you to live is Texas. Texans reported the fewest number of UFO incidents per capita than any other state. Other safe zones include the southern states of Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama.
We’re not sure why UFOs steer clear of southern states, but it appears that aliens just don’t appreciate the perks of southern hospitality.
Do you believe in aliens?
Surveys from Chapman University show that the belief in intelligent alien life is on the rise in recent years. In 2016, only 27% of Americans believed that aliens have visited our planet at some point in the ancient past. In 2018, 41.4% of people said that aliens have visited Earth in our ancient past. That’s a rise of fourteen percentage points in just two years.
UFO sightings by state
From Tic Tac–shaped objects flying over New York to swirling light balls in California, reported UFO sightings happen all over the country. This chart shows how many UFO sightings were reported in each state, how many sightings there were per 100,000 people, and the overall state rankings of where you’re most likely to spot a UFO.
|State||Number of UFO sightings||Sightings per 100,000 people||Rank|
Tips for newbie UFO hunters
If your idea of a UFO sighting comes from The X-Files or Doctor Who, you might expect trails of acidic green blood or alien spaceships cruising above the River Thames. The reality is most UFO sightings are less dramatic, such as a strange aircraft or odd light formations descending slowly into a forest.
What we do know is that UFO sightings are most frequent during the warmer months. Why? We’re not sure. Maybe because people are outside more often in good weather, or maybe aliens go on summer vacations with their kids too.
So what are the tools of the trade? If you’re looking for UFOs and alien technology, you can skip the sonic screwdriver. (Although if you’ve got a TARDIS, count us in!) UFO hunters use binoculars, night vision goggles, and cameras, and they have a lot of patience—you never know when a UFO will appear.
If you’re planning an alien interception, your best bet is to pack a cooler of beer and get ready for a long night of stargazing. And if Washington isn’t your scene, you could also hit up one of the eight best places in the world for UFO sightings to raise your chances.
How we got our results
We used data from the National UFO Reporting Center’s online database to get the number of UFO sightings in each state. We then compared each state’s total number of sightings to US census data to find which states have the most UFO sightings per capita.