Extraterrestrials may not be coming to visit Calgary, but strange lights and shapes are in the skies.
Sarah Dorchak/the Gauntlet

A popular destination for UFOs

Calgary is second highest in the country for UFO sightings

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Calgary seems to have become a haven for UFO sightings. There were 986 recorded UFO sightings in Canada in 2011, 26 of which were right over Calgary, making it the number two destination for UFOs in the country behind Toronto, which had 34 sightings.

Many Calgarians have recently reported strange sights in the sky, which range from bright flashes of blue and white, green and orange orbs and stars in tight formation hovering over the city’s skyline.

According to the 2011 Canadian UFO survey, a typical UFO sighting lasts an average of 11 minutes, and most occurrances are reported by more than one person. The survey also stated that sightings have increased over the past few years.

However, what these objects are is contested, and whether they come from distant stars remains to be seen.

According to University of Calgary assistant professor of astronomy and physics Jeroen Stil, there can be many scientific explanations for what these sightings actually are.

“It’s clear people are seeing something, that’s beyond doubt. The question is, What could it actually be?” said Stil. “The single [biggest cause] for UFO sightings are the moon and the planet 

According to Stil, there are many factors, including where the viewer stands, at what time and at what distance, that can change the appearance of certain objects or create illusions in the sky. He said without an exhaustive description of the event, it becomes very difficult for a researcher or scientist to understand the occurrences.

“Our chances of explaining the cause of these sightings depends critically on the level of detail provided by the witness,” said Stil. “If you’re talking about unexplained sightings, they are always interpreted as scientists not knowing what it is. But some descriptions are too vague to give any understanding to what is seen.”

He said there is a wide range of meteorological phenomena in the summer months that can make objects in the sky look odd. For example, bright blue and white flashes may be lightning from a distant storm. He also mentioned summer clouds that glow due to extremely high elevation can also be confused for UFOs.

So perhaps aliens are not coming to check out Canada’s oil capital, and instead the UFO sightings are illusions in the sky. However, whether life, intelligent or not, exists beyond the surface of our planet is another discussion.

Fifth-year U of C astrophysics student Russell Shanahan said technology on earth is too advanced to let an alien craft slip by unnoticed.

“It’s seriously doubtful that alien vessels are coming to earth, because at any time right now, there are thousands of people with cameras pointed at the skies, there are satellites everywhere, there’s radar all over the place, so we know what’s going on in the sky. If aliens were coming here, we would know about it,” said Shanahan.

He said, however, that the possibility of extraterrestrial life in the universe is very high due to the vast number of stars and planetary systems.

“There are billions of stars in our galaxy and we can only see a fraction of them,” said Shanahan. “There are likely planets around almost every star, so to say that at least one of those billions of planets doesn’t have life isn’t logical.”

Although he thinks extraterrestrial beings have not yet visited earth, he hopes one day it can be possible.