UFO reports common among locals
Drawing of object spotted in Sandy Springs in May 2011.
The last sighting happened in Sandy Springs on Sept. 16.
A Sandy Springs resident walking their dog near High Top Road spotted something in the sky at 8 a.m. A few days later, the resident filed a report about the unidentified flying object on UFOstalker.com, a website that collects witness accounts and publishes them anonymously.
“I was finishing my walk with our dog, walking through our courtyard, when I saw four round spheres in a line,” the resident wrote. “They were several hundred feet in the air, I would estimate 500 feet. They were in two sets of two, and basically stationary while slowly rotating. One was reddish in color, the other three, gray.”
The resident later added, “I swear to the truthfulness of this sighting.”
Click here to download a list of local UFO reports from the Reporter Newspapers coverage area.
While the prospect of visitations from other life forms sounds unbelievable, people living in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Brookhaven and Buckhead have all filed reports with UFO Stalker. According to UFO Stalker, there are 13 different reports going back to 1994. In some cases residents report sightings years after the actual event.
Seven of the alleged sightings happened in Sandy Springs.
The Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, is another clearing house for this information. Ralph Howard, who lives in Chamblee, is state director and field investigator for MUFON in Georgia. He oversees a team of 17 active investigators.
Howard said the metro area generates fewer reports overall than the rest of the state.
“I don’t think there’s anything special going on about Sandy Springs or Atlanta,” he said. “The remarkable thing might be that we do get some sightings every now and then that are hard to explain.”
Howard said investigators have yet to come up with an explanation for an object spotted above Atlanta’s new Ferris Wheel on July 24. It’s most likely a kite or a balloon, but Howard says MUFON doesn’t know who put it in the sky.
Finding pedestrian explanations is part of Howard’s and MUFON’s mission.
Howard said in most cases UFOs can be explained by natural phenomena. He said the organization has seen an uptick in reports filed, but it could be because of greater awareness of reporting sites like UFO Stalker. There’s also an uptick in people using hobby drones and motor-powered kites that could explain the increase in reports, he said.
“Some are deserving of actual scientific investigation,” Howard said. “I’m a scientist myself, I’m a geologist. We’ve got a real phenomenon here. It is real.”
Jim Sowell, an astronomer at Georgia Tech, said taking into account what we know about physics, there’s almost no possibility of extraterrestrial life visiting our planet. For starters, the universe is almost incomprehensibly vast. The Voyager 1 space probe, for example, launched in 1977, and exited our solar system in 2012. Also, scientists are reasonably certain that traveling faster than light speed is impossible. Even at light speed, the distances would be unachievable in an average human’s lifetime.
“The planet Venus accounts for 90 percent of all UFO sightings,” Sowell said. “Because it’s so bright, that when it’s near the horizon, the atmosphere can cause it to twinkle. It’s so bright amongst the trees when it’s down low. A lot of people who aren’t used to looking up in the sky don’t realize how bright Venus can be.”
Howard said if there’s enough evidence in a report to warrant a follow-up, the reporters will receive a phone call from an investigator. He said investigators spend most of their time finding the simplest and most obvious explanations for each report. The internet makes the task more manageable. Investigators can look up the alignment of the planets and even the position of satellites at the time of the sighting.
“You have to be methodical, so the few we cannot explain are the ones that carry weight,” Howard said. “It’s the ones we explain away that make the other ones so hard to deal with.”