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When seeing a UFO

 Who, When, Where, What and Why!

There are several key components that make a good sighting become a great sighting. The more completely and accurately you are are able to answer these five questions the better your case will be.
If you can incorporate the tips below, the answers to these five questions will make the difference between a good case and one for the records.

The most important first: 
Eliminate as many "knowns" as possible

 More reports of UFO turn out to have a mundane solution than Unknown or Unconventional by a factor of 5 or greater. Try to rule out as many mundane solutions for your sighting as possible. We have listed some Tools of the Trade that can help you with this process.

Using some of the tools provided, airplanes are the easiest things that can be found and researched. 

If you are observing a steady illuminated object about the size and brightness of a star traveling at a constant speed following a straight unchanging path, chances are very, very strong you are probably observing a satellite or space junk or debris. Even satellites will brighten or dim sometimes while traveling across the sky.

Unclassified satellites are able to be researched with the right tools. Of course there are probably as many if not more classified satellites as there are unclassified which makes eliminating a satellite nearly impossible. 

Fireballs or meteors are a common observation. A large number of sightings both during daylight as well as at night are found to be fireballs. These are not able to be researched at the time but identifying them can be relatively easy. Some resources are listed in the Tools of the Trade and deserve some research and education before you see you next UFO. 

Stars, planets and other celestial bodies are found to be another common solution for a large number of sightings. This is another solution that is easily researched and confirmed during real time using the resources listed in the Tools of the Trade. This is also another category that deserves some research and education.

Self education and research as well as practicing with any tools and utilities you choose to arm yourself with is the best method for reducing the chances of your sighting having a mundane solution.

Who?...
Probably the most important of the five questions!

Most sightings involve single witnesses. When observing a UFO the more people that see the object the better. If you are in a public area or have others nearby with you, direct their attention to what you are seeing. Try to get attention of people you don't know to see the object.

Call to people that are near by and have them look in the same direction you are seeing the object. Find out if they see the same thing and have them record the same information and data you are collecting.

Get and share contact information with everyone you speak with or see who observed the object. Suggest to them that before they talk to anyone about what they saw, to right everything down in as much details as possible while it is fresh in their minds. Don't change what is written later even if their memory of the events change over time. You may want to recommend this website to them for information on what to do next.

If you have an audio recorder, record the play-by-play details of your sighting. This has been found to be an extremely useful record during investigation of a report of UFO.

Call the police. Provide them your information and what you are seeing. If an officer can observe and record the same thing you see in their report, it's like getting extra points for your case.

If an officer is dispatched to investigate or take your report, get the "report" number from the officer. Have the investigating officer write in his report that you give permission for a MUFON Field Investigator to have access to and copies of the report.

When?.. 
The next most important of the five questions


Look at your watch, your phone or what ever time source you have. Make note of the time you first observe the object and then again when your sighting is over. 

If you can capture the images of the object with your phone, most phones will record the time in the photo. A lot of useful information comes as result of accurate date and time information as related to a sighting.

Where?.. 
Know where you are


Make note of your surroundings. Pay attention to road signs and especially any mile markers. Which direction are you facing when looking at the object. This is a good thing to know at all times regardless of our circumstances. You never know when you may have an emergency and need to tell someone where you are.

What?..
Object information, some of the most useful data you can record

 What is the perspective size of the object? Hold your arm up fully extended and use your thumb and forefinger as a gauge to determine the size of the object. What object fits between your forefinger and thumb that matches the size of the object at arms length? This is the perspective size of the object.

How high is the UFO from the horizon in degrees? Hold your arm up fully extended with your arm parallel to the horizon and make a fist. With your other arm extended and hand made into a fist "stack" it on the first. How many fists high is the object from horizon
?.

The height of one fist is approximately 10° and so four (4) fists "above" the horizon is an altitude of approximately 40°.
 If the object is moving what direction is it coming from and moving to or toward? How long does it take to move from one point in the sky to the next?  Landmarks where you see the object for the first time and the last can be very helpful.

Some details that are common but equally important are the sensory characteristics of the object and sighting. Make a note of the color of the object, if the object is illuminated and if so, as many details of the illumination. Are there any sounds, smells or any other sensations perceived with your 5 senses?

We do not go into specifics of these possible details because we do not want to influence you as a witness. Just try to be as nuanced and vivid as you can in all the details you can recall.

Why?.. Last of the five but certainly not least

How did you feel?

 Why were you at the location where you observed your sighting? Where were you coming from and what were you doing prior to your sighting? Where were you going, what time did you expect to arrive and what time did you actually arrive at your destination? These are all very important details.  This may seem an odd question but it can be very informative. Try to recall how you felt at all times of your sighting. This includes before your sighting, at the beginning, during, at the end of the sighting and afterwards when recording the details? Be as informative and really give some thought to recall what you were feeling at these times. 

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