Aliens and flying saucers, along with fairies and ghosts, are on the top of the list of things that capture the imagination of children from a young age. For some, this fascination with extraterrestrial beings and objects continues well into adulthood.
2 July is celebrated as World UFO Day to commemorate the day when an alien spacecraft is alleged to have crashed at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Though the US Government denied rumours of the UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) and explained that it was a nuclear test surveillance balloon, conspiracy theories continue to surround the incident even today.
On World UFO Day, share these interesting facts about UFOs with your child.
Facts about UFOs
- The term ‘UFO’ was devised by the US Air Force officer Edward Ruppelt, in 1952, to replace the more generic term (‘flying saucers’) used to describe them. Since then the study of UFOs has been termed ufology and the scientists ufologists.
- The term ‘flying saucer’ originated in 1947, because of a newspaper report on a UFO sighting made by businessman Kenneth Arnold. While flying in his plane, Kenneth observed nine disc-shaped objects moving at a high speed near Mount Rainer in Washington, US. The newspaper mistakenly described the objects as ‘saucer-shaped’. Eventually, the term caught on and the alien space ships came to be known as ‘flying saucers’.
- Though the most popular, UFO is not the only term used by scientists to describe these extraterrestrial objects flying in the sky. Many investigators and enthusiasts use the term Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP). Another term, more popularly used by the French and the Portugese is OVNI (objet volant non identifié).
- Allen Hynek, an astronomer at the Northwestern University in Evanston, founded the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) in 1973 at Chicago. The aim of the institution is to promote interest in and the study of UFOs as a science.
- The Project Blue Book was started to assess if UFOs were a threat to the US national security and analyse UFO-related data in a scientific manner. Allen Hynek was a scientific consultant on the project. Toward the end of the project, Hynek came to believe that some reported cases could not be claimed as hoax and that they might indicate extraterrestrial presence. Between 1947 and 1969, as many as 12,618 UFO sightings were reported to the project. Till date, 701 of these reports remain unexplained.
- London-based insurance company Goodfellow Rebecca Ingram Pearson (GRIP) offers insurance against alien abduction. In fact, they have sold over 30,000 policies providing insurance coverage in case an individual is kidnapped by an alien. However, no claims have been made so far.
- According to the National UFO Reporting center, more sightings have been reported in the past few years. While only 315 sightings were reported in 1990, in 2014 the number increased to 8,670.
- According to reports, there was a mass sighting of UFOs over Nuremberg in 1561. The event was recorded on a woodcut broadsheet and reported by Hanns Glaser. He describes the scene as a ‘dreadful apparition’ and talks about various objects like globes, crescents and tubular objects flying in the sky.
- On 12 August 1883, an astronomer named Jose Bonilla was observing sunspot activity from the observatory at Zacatecas Mexico. That’s when he spotted over 300 unidentified objects flying across the sun. While many theories have come up explaining the objects photographed by the astronomer, nothing conclusive has been proved yet. However, they have been recognised as the earliest photographs of UFOs ever taken.
- Equatorial Guinea was the first country to print flying saucers on its postage stamps in 1975.
While no one has yet proved if aliens exist or not, as a parent, you must encourage your child’s interest in space science and how it works.
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