Watch the sky! 2012 already record-breaking year for UFO sightings

We never really need an excuse to walk outside, look at the sky and hope to see something extraterrestrial drifting by, but 2012 seems to be giving an extra boost to the UFO business. We're not even a month into the year, and we're already on pace to hear more sighting reports this year than ever before. If you want to believe, now seems to be the time.

In the first week of 2012 alone, UFO sightings were reported in 36 of the 50 states here in the U.S. That's according to the Mutual UFO Network (or MUFON), the largest UFO investigative body in the world. The states that were left out of this alien New Year's party, in case you were curious, were Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

According to MUFON's international director Clifford Clift (Is that a great name for a UFO chaser or what?), the group received about 500 UFO reports for the whole of January 2011, and they received 233 in the first week of 2012 alone. And in case you're thinking this is just some kind of anomalous occurrence, they also received a total of 810 reports in December 2011, up from only about 500 in December 2010.

Of course, most of these reports will turn out to be weather balloons, aircraft or astronomical phenomena. But there's always that percentage of genuinely unexplained stuff that keeps us wondering. Clift said MUFON is on pace to see a great deal more reports this year than last year. And if that happens, the number of unexplained sightings will go up.

"Last year, we averaged over 6,000 total sightings, and if it continues at this pace, we'll be up 50 percent, with about 10 percent of those reports ending up as unexplained after our investigation," he said.

The skeptics are so far just writing all these sightings off to New Year's celebrations. According to Philip Duncan, an analyst for New Zealand-based WeatherWatch, people saw more stuff last week because they just happened to be outside more.

"Many people around the world have been outside celebrating the new year. In the U.S., where most of the sightings came from, conditions were fairly mild and dry in many areas, so more people were outside to see things," Duncan said.

But Americans weren't the only ones in on the sighting action. Sightings in the first seven days of 2012 were also reported in Brazil, Mexico, Japan and Belarus. They may all end up being something as simple as runaway Chinese lanterns, but since everyone and their grandmother has a camera phone these days, and with the mystical aura of 2012 upon us, Clift predicts the increase in sightings will continue all year.

"One reason why I think it's going to be a good year is because people are looking at the sky a lot more and now they know where to report UFOs, and they're reporting them like crazy," he said.

(via The Huffington Post)

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