This weekend Britain’s oldest UFO group turns 50.
With thousands of files that pre-date Ministry of Defence records, (indeed its oldest files go back to the Victorian era) The British UFO Research Association (BUFORA) celebrates half a century with a two-day conference in London.
A regular contributor to magazines, TV and radio shows, the group is currently supporting an investigation into Sweden's Ghost Rockets phenomena.
Since 1946, around 2,000 UFOs have been seen in the skies above Sweden, with a number reportedly crashing into lakes.
Scroll down for a gallery of images
In August a team set out in an ambitious attempt to find one of the objects, the results of which will be revealed exclusively by speaker Clas Svahn at the conference.
Chairman Matt Lyons explains: “We are non-cultist and are not lead by belief systems, not advocating an extra-terrestrial polarised view, nor are we at the highly sceptical end of the spectrum.
“One of the few groups to run an accredited training course, our team of researchers and investigators are led by witness testimony and not the personal or group beliefs."
We want to believe. And here are ten reasons why.
1. July saw the 65th anniversary of the now infamous Roswell incident. The military initially revealed a flying disk had been captured, but changed their story overnight, claiming the craft was actually a weather balloon. Rumours abound to this day that the occupants of the craft were captured and the military engaged in a cover-up.
Former CIA agent Chase Brandon told The Huffington Post: “It was not a damn weather balloon – it was what it was billed when people first reported it.
“It was a craft that clearly did not come from this planet, it crashed and I don’t doubt for a second that the use of the word ‘remains’ and ‘cadavers’ was exactly what people were talking about.”
2. In August, the head of UK Air Traffic Control admitted the skies above Britain are visited by at least one UFO a month. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Richard Deakin confirmed unidentified flying objects were being seen by his staff. Nick Pope, a former UFO investigator for the Ministry of Defence confirmed the figure, but added: “Our mindset is it’s probably more likely to be Russian than Martian.”
3. Researchers from the University of Aberdeen this month suggested many more planets than previously thought may contain life. Microorganisms could be thriving in a “Goldilocks zone” where it’s not too hot and not too cold, Professor John Parnell revealed.
4. Continuing in an academic vein, this year Edinburgh University became the first in the UK to offer a selection of free online courses, including one on UFOs and the search for extraterrestrial life.
5. Whether or not you believe the stories of people who say they’ve been spirited out of their cars on lonely country roads or drawn into alien crafts while they’ve been sleeping, these tales are told by enough people to make us think carefully about the phenomenon.
Photographer Steven Hirsch’s project Little Sticky Legs sees images of alien abductees and their own drawings of their experiences.
“Are these people telling me the truth? I don’t know,” Hirsch told The Huffington Post.
6. Crop circles continue to dazzle and baffle us. The mystery appeared to be solved when several high-profile cases revealed that the designs were the work of artists and mischief-makers with barrels, planks of wood and a plenty of spare time. Yet not all could be explained.
In recent years crop circle artists have pushed the boundaries of ingenuity, boasting ever-more complex patterns and shapes. Some crop circle designs now feature up to 2,000 shapes, while analysis by mathematicians shown that they can be built on deep patterns and structures that are otherwise invisible to the eye.
While spoilsports, sorry scientists claim to have cracked the case once more, suggesting artists are now relying on the Global Positioning System, lasers and even microwaves to create their patterns, we’re holding onto the hope that aliens are just really, really creative.
7. Former American President Dwight D Eisenhower had three secret meetings with aliens from another planet, a former US government consultant has claimed.
Eisenhower and a number of FBI officials are said to have arranged the meetings by sending out “telepathic messages”. The meetings, at the Holloman Air Force base were witnessed by “many”, it is claimed.
8. Nasa’s Curiosity rover may have only landed in August, but its cameras are starting to transmit images back of what some are calling UFOs. What’s more, a film sequence transmitted by Curiosity shows white-coloured objects moving near the horizon the red planet.
9. In July the National Archives released X-files revealing the role of Britain’s Ministry of Defence UFO desk officers. The 25 files, comprising more than 6,700 pages, include UFO policy, parliamentary questions, media issues, public correspondence and, of course, UFO sighting reports. Overall, more than 10,000 UFO reports came through the special MoD unit from 1950 to 2009.
While the plug was pulled on the post in 2009, with the MoD citing no evidence of any credible threat, The Telegraph quotes a 2008 document from a desk officer who stated: “We cannot rule out the existence of intelligent life on other planets.”
10. In 2011 two American scientists proposed enlisting online volunteers to identify signs of alien life in moon images collected by Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. In a paper published in the journal Acta Astronautica, Arizona State University Physicists Paul Davies and Robert Wagner wrote of their belief there there may be signs of extra terrestrial life in the form of messages, scientific instruments, waste or evidence of mining that could be spotted by human telescopes and orbiting spacecraft.