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"That was no flare": 90,000 UFO sightings combined into one awesome map

I found it: this is the greatest map of America.

There's one problem, though. It's about something I don't believe exists. Let me explain: I don't believe that aliens exist, but let's say I did and they come in UFOs — and let's assume you believe in them, too. This map is one of the best data visualizations I have seen in my entire life.

If aliens have visited Earth, this is the greatest map of all time

Metrocosm compiled more than 90,000 reports of UFO sightings in the United States since 1905 into an impressively detailed, interactive map:

Max Galka/Metrocosm

This is like the census, but for aliens

The map uses data from the National UFO Reporting Center and Mutual UFO Network; the Inquisitr called it "credible." And 1905 was a long time ago — it's the year Albert Einstein presented his theory of relativity. The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was born in 1905. There are more than 90,000 stories collected, so let's dig into some of them. Assuming all of the reported sightings are credible is an important part of enjoying this. The dots represent witness reports. They come in three sizes: small (individual report), medium (small group reports), and large (multiple witness reports).

Suggested spacey music listening, via Radar Radio:

2004: Chicago, Illinois

UFO sightings since 1905, around Chicago.

Max Galka/Metrocosm

UFOs clearly enjoy visiting the Windy City. For example, 77 people reported seeing a UFO on the night of October 31, 2004:

Witness No. 13 wrote:

Fire balls in the sky, form triangle, lasted 5 minutes.

Second Sighting 45 minutes later lasted 5 minutes. There were 3 Fire balls at 8:20pm they formed in a straight line in the east sky, then they formed into a triangle, one then moved quickly out of sight traveling North then the other two disappeared. What was strange about 45 minutes later another fireball appeared South east, just one , it also lasted about 5 minutes. I took pictures on my digital camera and have night vision video on both sightings , In the video it appears as a white ball, when you look in the sky it looks as tho they barely move, but when researching the video it is moving all over the place at at times it looked as tho it was right on top of the screen. In the pictures the camera captured the light movement which is very interesting. I blew the photos up on the computer and in some it looks like they wrote something. My daughter and I had the chills. I never experienced anything like this.

2009: Burlington, New Jersey

New Jersey.

Max Galka/Metrocosm

Witness No. 41 of 75, September 19, 2009:

Fishers Island, Long Island Sound there was a large lamp shade/flashlight light in the sky for 10 seconds+ it fadded away into the sk

Beach party early in the night. 20+ people saw most of the event. 10+ saw it "turn on" and then called out to the rest. There was a light in the sky like a huge lamp or a flash light. It was turned on over Long Island Sound and very obvious light. We saw it and then it faded slowly UP outward away from us. It did not go right, left or down, it just faded away. the light lingered in the sky for 20-30 seconds and everyone sort of got over it. It still bothered some of us. It was nothing like anyone had ever seen not a plane or satalite or anything people who live on an island and looking at the sky had ever seen.

It is dark and boring here, we all look at the sky all the time.

1997: Phoenix, Arizona

Arizona.

Max Galka/Metrocosm

Witness No. 6 of 64, March 13, 1997:

This was real, and not flares!

It was the night of Thursday, March 13, 1997. I was living in an apartment in Phoenix Arizona at the time and had some friends over that night. We all went outside and I noticed several lights in the sky over Phoenix. Soon my friends and I were all staring at these lights in the sky. There was no noise at all coming from these lights. They were yellowish-orange in color. As I focused my eyes on the lights I could make out the shapes of actual solid craft in the sky. It wasn’t one large craft, it was several craft which made a large triangle shape, then a large oval shape! My friends also could see the shape of these craft in the sky. These craft would move up and down, and left to right but didn’t move all that much. They didn’t shoot across the sky or anything like that. But I could see the shape of these craft in the sky. This lasted for about 30 minutes and the lights turned off and the craft disappeared. I have spent 8 years in the Army and I know what flares look like and how they act. These were not flares. I can say this with confidence.

The U.S. Government stone walled the people of Phoenix.

Thousands of people had to have witnessed this event that night.

2007: Hooper, Colorado

Illustration of a UFO "disk."

Max Galka/Metrocosm

Witness No. 2 of 5, July 28, 2007:

3 craft sighted by several witnesses in clear daylight conditions. Timepiece anomoly also occured

At the annual UFO Conference put on by the UFO Watchtower in Hooper, CO several people had the opportunity to witness UFOs. About 2:00 PM Stan Romanek (one of the featured speakers at the event) was near the parking area outside the presentation building and was excited as he told me about the UFO he had just witnessed and taken some pictures of. He was really excited that he got pictures of it. He pointed out a spot above a patch of clouds near where the object was about 4 fingers (at arms length) above the distant mountain horizon in the northwest sky.

He mentioned what he saw to a couple other people earlier and walked across the field to the RV he was staying in about 1:30 PM. He was going to put the image on his laptop computer and bring it back so we could all see what the picture looked like. He returned and set the laptop up on a table outside under the shade of a canopy of an RV set up to serve food. As he got the computer set up I continued to scan the skies, especially in the area he had seen the object. We were excited to see that he did get a picture of it. It was white in color and although it was a digital image at a distance you could make out the classic saucer shape with a bubble protrusion on top. A few of us were taking turns looking at the image because the brightness of reflection of the sky in the monitor made it difficult to see well unless you stood directly in front of it.

While about 5 or 6 people were marveling at the picture Stan had just taken (with a Nikon Coolpix 6 mega pixel digital camera) I saw what appeared to be the same object in the same location off in the distant N/W horizon. I would guess the distance to be at least 35 miles away based on the distance of the mountain range it appeared to be over. It was very white and was dramatically accentuated by the darker blue sky background. It was also about 4 fingers (arms length) above the distant mountaintop to the northwest about the width of my pinkie finger above the white cloud bank below.

I described the location as I pointed to the object for the others to identify also. They were as excited as I was to realize for themselves how fascinating it was to watch. You could easily see that the object was not a cloud, balloon or plane. It stood perfectly still and the distinct sharpness of the edges eliminated it being a cloud as you could compare it to other clouds in the area.

We all watched as the stationery object defied cloud movement and all other rational or logical cross references we could use. Someone noticed an identical object about a pinkie width directly above the one we were watching. The one above slowly moved downward toward the original object until it was directly over the other nearly touching it.

After watching the object for a minute or two to eliminate any plausible explanation for what I was witnessing I went to get my camera and took 3 pictures. The 5 mega pixel Kodak photos were not distinct as the ones Stan took and only showed a white spot with no definition. At that time I left to tell others in the nearby building attending the conference about what was happening outside. By the time I returned both objects had left in different directions according to those watching it.

I served in the military in the mid- late 1960s in Naval Air Intelligence and was trained in aircraft identification. I am confident this was a physical object and not any kind of natural phenomenon. I have attached the 2 photos I took even though they are very poor quality compared to what we were visibly seeing.

Another odd note is that 6 individuals’ cell phones or watches were 1 hour off that morning plus another was 2 hours and another was off by 3 hours. The cell phone services were provided by at least 3 different services. No one had any explanation for this oddity.

This is the first time I’ve reported a sighting.

2014: Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina

Witness No. 2 of 15, June 26, 2014:

Lights in the sky over ocean at myrtle beach

Watched the 10:00pm fireworks.

Stayed and talked with my family and noticed orangish to red lights appear in the sky 3-4 times, no more than two at a time..

Asked my father-in-law who was in the Navy to pay attention to see if they were flares.

Then the lights appeared again but began to make multiple lights (6-8) forming a straight line in the SE to S sky.

He looked at me and said "that was no flare".

Indeed.

2002: Palo Alto, California

This is an interesting one. Metrocosm's map includes 10 stories, all with an AP wire writeup corresponding to the event, which describes a US Air Force missile test. Who do you believe?

Illustration of a "fireball" UFO.

Max Galka/Metrocosm

Witness No. 6 of 10, September 19, 2002:

white light and gaseous tail resembling a comet tracking through upper atmosphere, which exploded like a firework

I swear I saw this, and I was an Astronomy student, and I have no idea what the hell this was, but here it is. I was looking out my window to watch the sky darken (it was a little before dusk) and I saw what looked like light resembing what you would see when a plane comes in to land in the fog. Judging by the height (it seems as high as a jetliner would fly while cruising) I saw a light with a fog seeming to trail behind it, but I found it strange that if it were an aircraft with a light on in the upper atmosphere the "fog" would be opposite the direction it was moving. Anyway, as it travelled along, I was waiting for what I thought would be where the light would be pointed directly in my direction, when all of the sudden, it exploded into a faint, white fireball, that resembled what looks like a firework burst. All white, with symmetric white arms - just like what you'd see on July 4. Then they fissled out and it was gone. I have never seen anything like this. I'm guessing that it was a meteor, but it was moving so slow, and I have seen those before. There was no "fire trail" or sparks, and it was moving as if it were a jetliner. MAN, I wish I knew.

((NUFORC Note: Missile launch from Vandenberg AFB. Please see article. PD))

((BEGIN ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE ABOUT LAUNCH))

Air Force Test Missile Out West

Fri Sep 20, 1:25 AM ET

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - An Air Force missile test Thursday provided a spectacular light show seen over California and much of the West, as far away as Utah and New Mexico.

The colorful contrail was seen soon after the unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile blasted off at 7:36 p.m. from an underground silo at the Vandenberg military base north of Santa Barbara.

"The smoke went up in spirals as the sun was setting and turned into an orange, amber color. It was like a flower going into bloom pretty quickly," said Simon Cox, who saw it from a restaurant terrace in Santa Barbara.

The missile traveled about 4,200 miles in about 30 minutes, striking a predetermined target at the Kwajalein Missile Range in the western chain of the Marshall Islands, the Air Force said.

Vandenberg spokeswoman Kelly Gabel said clear conditions were responsible for the spectacular light show.

"We do this two or three times a year, but because the weather was so perfect we decided to launch it early," Gabel said. As a result, people were still awake to see it, and although the sun had set, sunlight below the horizon glinted off unspent fuel particles and water droplets.

"Suddenly we're getting calls from people as far away as New Mexico who saw it and want to know what it is," Gabel said.

The mission was directed by the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg and the 341th Space Wing and the 341st Space Wing, from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

The purpose was to test launch systems and the missile's accuracy and reliability.

If you answered that you believe the AP — we do, too. For now.