UFOs have been in the news a lot lately. I am a research astronomer who has written and editedbooks and created a free online course about the search for life in the universe. While I think we are making progress on detecting life beyond Earth, I view UFOs from a skeptical standpoint, since the evidence that they represent aliens visiting the Earth is unconvincing.

Last month, a report from the Office of the Director on National Intelligence dropped on Congress. It described 144 sightings by military personnel over a 17-year period, preferring to use the term UAP, for unidentified aerial phenomenon, in part to avoid the stigma attached to UFOs.

For those like me waiting for definitive statements, the report was a big disappointment. It declined to draw any conclusions, saying the available data is “largely inconclusive” and noting it is limited and inconsistently reported. The report worried about increased air “clutter,” and left open the possibility that some UAP sightings represent advanced technologies of foreign adversaries, with significant national security implications.

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