It was by anyone’s standards, a strange year – but in Norfolk, while the population was locked down, the skies were still open for UFO business. The only area in the UK where you were more likely to see a UFO in the UK during 2020 was the South West, according to new research from investigators.

However, overall – and despite reports to the contrary – research has shown that UFO sightings lessened in 2020 in comparison to 2019 and 2018: the Stay At Home advice clearly did hit home. In the East of England in total, there were 56 UFO reports made in 2020 to either the police or one of a number of UFO organisations that operate in the UK, the third highest number in the UK.

Ash Ellis is the founder of the North West UFO Research and Investigation Group, co-host of the Pursuit of the Paranormal podcast and owner of UFO Identified (LINK Since being furloughed from his job in a casino, Warrington-based Ash has been analysing UFO reports from across the UK during the difficult months of 2020.

He said: “With reports collected from members of the public directly, from sightings reported to a number of UFO organisations around the world, as well as information gained from over 50 Freedom of Information requests made to every police force in the UK as well as the military, Government and aviation organisations, I have discovered the truest picture of the UFO phenomena within the British shores and airspace.”

During the lockdown months of March and April 2020, there was a massive increase in UK sightings of 148 per cent and 200 per cent respectively. This did, Ash points out, coincide with the launch of the SpaceX satellite trains, a number of which were launched during these months, which appear as a link of star-like lights in the sky.

“These trains consist of dozens of satellites, appearing as a link of star-like lights in the sky following each other and very visible to those looking up, leading to a flurry of reports made to the numerous UFO organisations with some members of the public worried about an impending alien invasion…” said Ash.

More than 100 of the reports made in 2020 – from 484 – can be attributed to SpaceX but after founder Elon Musk reduced the visibility of the satellites, reports dramatically reduced.

In Norfolk there were 11 sightings reported including one in Blakeney which involved “multiple unknown objects moving in a strange manner in the sky” and another on November 23 in Norwich, where two bright white “orb lights” were seen moving across the sky as if joined together.

In Suffolk, there were 10 sightings including one in Stowupland where a witness saw what looked like a mirror in the sky travelling above a field and another in Ipswich when a family sitting in their garden in August saw “…a black object turning and twisting strangely as it moved across the sky”.

On December 19, in Lowestoft, a witness saw “…a pulsating disc in the sky” and a short time later, spotted two of the same object flying towards each other.

Ash said that there is also a theory that what we see above us tends to mirror what is happening where our feet are planted: interest in UFOs grew during the Cold War when the public was deeply anxious about the world.

“At times of stress, we tend to look for answers in places where we might not have looked before,” he said.

In August 2020, the Pentagon announced a task force to study “unidentified aerial phenomena” which could pose a national security threat. A press release from the American Department of Defense said: “As DOD has stated previously, the safety of our personnel and the security of our operations are of paramount concern.

“The Department of Defense and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report.

“This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as UAP when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing.”

The announcement followed the release of three videos showing US Navy pilots encountering mysterious, fast-moving objects which were shot in 2004 and 2015 by Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Jets with hardware that detects heat and creates images.

Weird Norfolk has written extensively about UFO sightings in the county. There was the sighting in Hainford and Motum Road in August 1971, in Cromer on New Year’s Eve in 1978, in Dereham Market Place in May 1978, an incident which was documented by the CIA when a UFO was seen above South Park Avenue in Norwich in 1953 and the infamous 1995 cluster of sightings to name just a handful.

Eastern Daily Press: Mr Barrett's sketch of the UFO he saw of Dereham. Date: 20 May 1977.Mr Barrett's sketch of the UFO he saw of Dereham. Date: 20 May 1977. (Image: Archant/Dereham & Fakenham Times)

“We don’t know why certain places become UFO hotspots,” explained Ash, “but I do wonder if the number of air bases in Norfolk and Suffolk is linked to what is seen over the skies there.

“Of course this could involve experimental craft from bases or it could mean that other craft are attracted to the bases – obviously we’d love it to be the latter, because everyone dreams of being the one to find the ultimate proof of life on other planets…”

More findings from UFO Identified:

When is the best time to spot a UFO?

On a Sunday between 9pm and 10pm – but look up from 8pm, which is the second most noted time and Saturdays and Tuesdays, which also see a larger number of sightings. An interesting 127 of last year’s sightings were seen during daylight hours.

What are people actually seeing?

In order, the most spotted UFOs are: star-like, orbs, ‘other’, triangular, oval, fireballs, discs, cylinders, diamonds or ‘unknown’.

Were there any Close Encounters of the Third Kind?

Across the UK, there were three reports across the UK of seeing “an entity” occupying or piloting a UFO.

How many of us believe in UFOs?

A YouGov survey in 2020 revealed that 19 per cent of Britons admitted that it was “somewhat likely” to “likely” that aliens live on earth.

Who is the most likely to believe in aliens?

The largest group of believers are under the age of 34 and men are more likely than women to believe.

What is responsible for most UFO sightings?

Last year’s launch of Elon Musk’s Space X Star Link satellites was responsible for a spate of sightings and Venus is one of the most confused objects in the sky, especially when it is low to the horizon. Sirius and Jupiter are also often reported as UFOs in addition to Mercury.

Anything else?

Rocket launches, comets, military jets, weather balloons, meteors, fireballs and lenticular clouds are often reported as UFOs. Remote controlled aircraft are sometimes reported

Is there life on other planets?

In 2011, NASA scientist Richard Hoover published a paper claiming to have found fossil evidence for bacteria in meteorites from outer space which he said resembled tiny single-celled algae. Possible evidence for microorganisms living on Mars has been found

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