From mysterious discs on Slemish Mountain in County Antrim to bizarre footage spotted on CCTV, unexplained sightings have increased further in Northern Ireland last year.
Police received eight sightings in Northern Ireland in 2021, an increase from six of those reports in 2020 and four in 2019.
These included a report of a spaceship and flashing lights in the Downpatrick area on January 17.
In May, police received two reports of sightings, one of white lights after a helicopter in the Maghaberry area and a strange disc seen in the sky in the Slemish area of County Antrim at the end of the month .
In July, there was a report of “strange images” on CCTV at a house in the Newtownabbey area and a dome-shaped object with eight lights in the sky was reported in the Saintfield area.
In September, a report was received in the Lisburn area of ”aliens in the bedroom”, while in October a patient detained said he had been abducted by aliens.
The final report for the year noted “unusual bright lights in the sky” in November.
UFO sighting reports on the Northern Ireland Police Service (PSNI) database include unidentified flying objects (UFOs); aerial phenomena; unidentified aerial phenomena; lights in the sky; and aliens and extraterrestrials.
A spokesperson for PSNI said no investigation had been carried out into the incidents.
Nick Pope, who used to investigate reports of UFO sightings for the Department of Defense (MoD), said it was possible that more people would spend more time at home during the pandemic may explain an increase in reported sightings.
“It’s hard to say what’s behind the small increase in sightings,” he said.
“Covid-19 and lockdowns may have played a role, with people having more free time during the pandemic and perhaps spotting things that previously may have gone unnoticed.
“Another possibility is that people are watching the situation in the United States, where Congress is taking the issue seriously and the Pentagon has launched a new UFO initiative.
“This can make people more likely to report something unusual that they have seen, as it sends the message that authorities are taking the matter seriously.”
However, Pope said he believed the actual number of sightings to be much higher.
“Unfortunately, the numbers are still quite low, and I suspect there is chronic underreporting, perhaps because of the perceived stigma,” he said.
“This may be a consequence of the Defense Ministry’s decision to stop investigating UFOs at the end of 2009.
“If the Defense Department relaunches investigations and asks the public to report something unusual, I am sure they will receive a lot of reports.”