UFO Sightings in 2021: A Timeline

The National UFO Reporting Center receives hundreds of reports every month.

Published June 1, 2021

The U.S. Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are expected to present an unclassified report on what the government knows about Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) to Congress in June 2021. The report is expected to detail UFO sightings over the last several decades, but 2021 alone has seen its fair share of mysterious UFO sightings.

This is not an exhaustive list of UFO sightings in 2021. The National UFO Reporting Database records hundreds of sightings every month. This list compiles the sightings that proved the most popular, whether that's because they were sighted by celebrities, because they were viewed by multiple people, or because they went viral on social media.

5/15/2021: The Moon

Description: A viral video supposedly shows a group of objects hovering over the surface of the moon.

Explanation: This is not a genuine video. This is digitally edited footage created by a CGI artist on TikTok.

5/12/2021: Virginia

Description: A video shows a multi-legged creature flying over a building in Richmond, Virginia.

Explanation: This video most likely shows a kite or a party balloon.

5/7/2021: Across the United States

Description: People from Texas to Wisconsin reported seeing a strange string of lights in the night sky during the first week of May 2021.

Explanation: These objects are Starlink Satellites. Dr. Richard Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society, told the Associated Press: "The way you can tell they are Starlink satellites is they are like a string of pearls, these lights travelling in the same basic orbit, one right after the other."

4/19/2021: California

Description: This sighting actually occurred in 2019, but the Pentagon confirmed that the footage -- which shows three pyramid-shaped objects hovering over the USS Russell -- was authentic and originated with a U.S. Navy pilot.

Explanation: The U.S. Government has not provided an explanation for these objects. However, it's plausible that these UFOs are really just planes.

4/2021: England

Description: A strange object hovers in the daytime sky in Swindon, England.

Explanation: This video most likely shows a kite.

4/1/2021: Montreal

Description: A video was circulated on social media that supposedly showed several odd bright lights over Montreal-Trudeau International Airport.

Explanation: This was a hoax created by a 3D animation professional and a group of students from the École Polytechnique de Montréal.

3/25/2021: Pacific Northwest

Description: Bright streaks of light were seen by a number of social media users in the Pacific Northwest.

Explanation: Space debris. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a few weeks prior to this sighting. As this rocket broke apart (as designed), some material did not burn up in the atmosphere and remained visible for longer than planned.

3/14/2021: Pennsylvania

Description: Multiple people reported seeing a bright object in the sky that left a spherical trail behind it. WFMZ reported:

Sunday morning just before dawn, there was an odd sight in the skies over Berks County and the Lehigh Valley.

It looked like a big comet. Yet, there were no comets passing near us today.

It kind of looked like a big meteor. But, the meteor trail wasn't pointing up.

So, was it a UFO?

Explanation: The object people saw streaking across the sky was another Starlink Satellite launched by SpaceX.

3/3/2021: Texas

Description: Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield reported that he saw a UFO while driving home from dinner near Lake Travis in Texas.

Explanation: Not being able to identify an object does not automatically make it alien. No photos or videos of this object have been provided so it could have been anything from a missile to a satellite to a meteor to a plane. The simplest explanation is often the correct explanation.

2/21/2021: New Mexico

Description: An American Airlines pilot reported seeing a "long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing" during a flight between Cincinnati and Phoenix. NBC Chicago reported:

An American Airlines pilot reported seeing "a long cylindrical object" flying over his plane during a flight from Ohio to Arizona on Sunday.

The encounter with the unidentified flying object happened over New Mexico as AA flight 2292 was heading to Phoenix from Cincinnati.

The pilot called air traffic control shortly after noon local time on on Feb. 22 to report seeing the object, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Explanation Pending: American Airlines and the FAA confirmed that the report was genuine but did not provide further information. The FAA said they "did not see any object in the area on their radarscopes" and the Pentagon reported that they were not conducting any military tests at the time. The FBI also said it was aware of the incident.

According to MetaBunk, this "missile type of thing" was most likely a Leer jet.

2/14/2021: Russia

Description: During a broadcast on RT France, a blurry object was seen flying across the screen.

Explanation: Most likely a bird or a pair of birds. Just because you can't identify an object doesn't mean that object is alien.

2/11/2021: Utah

Multiple people reported seeing a series of lights flying in a straight line. ABC 4 reported:

Reports of a line of UFOs seen flying in Utah’s stormy skies have been circulating since about 5:30 a.m. With storm clouds rolling in, did people really see something in the skies?

Yes, yes they did.

According to Jennifer Campbell of West Valley City, “Early in the morning, I saw them flying in a straight line, there was a fleet of them flying over the Mountains.”

Explanation: Most likely Starlink Satellites. The satellites, operated by SpaceX, were flying overhead at the time of the sightings.

2/9/2021: Florida

Description: Multiple videos show a bright white ball moving across the sky followed by a transparent spherical trail.

Explanation: Meteorologist Zach Corey reported that this images showed a test of the #TRIDENT-II #SLBM Missile Turks and Caicos.

1/23/2021: Los Angeles

Description: A photograph supposedly showing a UFO over Los Angeles was taken by someone as they drove in a car.

Explanation: It seems that only one person managed to take a photograph of this "sighting," despite this "UFO" appearing in a populated area. It seems likely that this video shows a reflection of a speedometer or something else on this person's dashboard (something that would have only been visible to the person in this car) and not a UFO.

1/23/2021: North Carolina

Description: A set of photographs posted by a person on Facebook show three greenish lights in the sky.

Explanation: Lens flare from the three nearby street lights and some passing Chinese lanterns.

1/23/2021: Pakistan

Description: A video of a bright, round and "shiny" object was filmed by a pilot over Pakistan.

Explanation: Punjab University space scientist Javed Sami said that this "UFO" was actually just a cloud. "The pilot observed a visual process in the air. The object visible to the pilot was a lenticular cloud. Commercial pilots often observed such clouds."

1/7/2021: North Carolina

Description: A photographer captures a strange object while creating a time-lapse video near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Explanation: The object in this video has not been definitively identified. One plausible explanation is that it shows part of the SpaceX Turksat 5A which launched from Cape Canaveral that evening.

12/29/2020: Hawaii

Multiple people filmed and photographed a "glowing, oblong mass" in the evening sky over Leeward Oahu, Hawaii. Hawaii News Now reported that witnesses said that the object fell out of the sky and into the ocean.

Explanation: The object in the video resembles an LED Kite.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.