Everyone got excited about a light in the sky after sunset tonight, here in Dayton, OH.
We all went outside and it looked to my eye like it was moving, drifting, changing its brightness. Someone said it might be Mercury or Jupiter, so we all looked—and sure enough, that was where Mercury was supposed to be (though a little high). I’m sure now it was probably a weather balloon… shiny and drifting in the breeze… so bright.
We had a debate online about what it was, and it reminded me of this article I wrote about 10 years ago when I lived in the Yukon Territory (Spring, 2010 issue of Yukon North of Ordinary).
It was probably the best article I ever wrote–certainly one of the most fun–and it was for the magazine Yukon North of Ordinary, the in-flight magazine of Air North. I was asked to write it as a science fiction writer looking into sightings of UFOs. Everyone who commissioned this article thought it would be funny, light-hearted, and that I would have a great time talking aliens with folks, but that I would know the difference between fact and fiction.
Well. That didn’t go as anyone planned.
I did the research, did a lot of interviews, and the Yukon is a place where many people have seen something in the sky. And they just needed someone to listen. And when I came to them asking questions, they believed in me, that I was there to hear them, to believe what they had seen. So that’s what I did. I recorded interviews with real people and their families who had questions, who had sightings they couldn’t explain, and I became for a short time, especially after the article came out, the go-to person to tell a UFO story to. I’m good with that.
I write science fiction and I love crafting stories. But I know mine are fiction. I will never say that anyone else’s stories are fiction unless they are proved to be fiction. But the stories I heard over those two months didn’t have easy explanations. We tried to fit all our science into those stories—planets, weather balloons, stars, planes—and they didn’t fit. We still put those explanations in the article–for people to see how well they fit THEIR stories.
When we were finished, the article made Air North executives and the editors nervous. They were an in-flight magazine. They didn’t want people to believe that something might happen on that 2 hour flight. They needed me to say at the end that “of course, we all know UFOs aren’t real.” They wanted to reassure their audience of something safe and secure. But I couldn’t call all my sources, people who trusted me, fools, or people who had been duped, or liars. One, I didn’t believe that. And two, it would go against my integrity as a journalist. You don’t make editorial comment on someone else’s lived experience. You let the experience speak for itself.
So I said no.
We came to a compromise where I said something like “if you say you’ve seen UFOs you’ll get funny looks” which IS true, and perfectly acceptable to all my sources, who knew what it was like not to be believed.
I had the cover story that quarter, and I’m so proud of it. So here it is, the full article, from Yukon North of Ordinary.
Now, there are the famous sightings in the Yukon—and we mention the Pelly Crossing-Carmacks sighting, and so I will link to more information on that sighting that had 32 witnesses.
Here’s a decent summary of events from UFOcasebook from the 1996 case.
Here is a Yukon Paranormal episode that is NOT trying to spook you, but really it is just gathering testimonials–though that opening sequence is scary. I found it left things quite open–and gave the people it was interviewing some space to talk.
I’ll let you decide what you think happened. But I love the explanation why so many Yukoners see things in the night: As Yukoners, we are more often looking up at the stars, and there is less light pollution in the Yukon in the Winter, when it is so almost solidly dark. Maybe that’s a good explanation for why so many sightings occur–our love of sky and wilderness.
Should we take UFO sightings seriously was the topic of an article last year in COSMOS magazine, a science magazine based out of Australia, funded by the Royal Institution of Australia, whose goal is to bring science to more people and bring more people to science—and the answer they come up with is yes, we should. And they specifically address the elephant in the room: Why don’t more Astronomers have UFO sightings? And the answer: actually, they do have sightings, even with the global average number of sightings–5% of astronomers surveyed said they’ve seen things they can’t explain, and most of them were night sky observers. Read the article here: Should we take UFO Sightings seriously?
So hey, if you have Yukon UFO sightings you’d like to chat about in the comments, feel free. I know, the stigma still exists: confessing to seeing something can be harmful to how others treat you. But I’d like to believe that so many people have seen SOMETHING they can’t explain that we can allow for the possibility of not knowing everything in the galaxy. Not having evidence to prove something has visited us to everyone is not the same as having a lot of “inconclusive evidence.” Johnny has never come to my house when I was there, therefore Johnny doesn’t exist. Other people claim he has come there, but no one seems to have their cameras ready as he runs by. But so many people do have stories—personal encounters. And those happened.
As the article points out, there’s already been a lot of disclosure happening in multiple countries of their classified UFO research, their multimillion dollar programs to look for and consider the possibilities of contact and encounter, and many military eye-witnesses:
“While there is much excitement about such disclosures, I am reminded of a quote from Retired Army Colonel John Alexander: ‘Disclosure has happened. … I’ve got stacks of generals, including Soviet generals, who’ve come out and said UFOs are real. My point is, how many times do senior officials need to come forward and say that this is real?’Cosmos Magazine, 10 July 2018
But for us tonight in Dayton, OH, it was interesting to consider all the possibilities of what we were seeing and we were glad to have some astronomy experts on hand to chat with us about what we could see where in the sky, and helping us discover what this bright thing might be.
Probably a weather balloon tonight. But I’ll keep watching in the skies for sights of Jupiter and Venus and maybe something extraordinary one day.