Editor’s note: “That’s SLO Weird” explores the things that make San Luis Obispo County so wonderful and so ... well ... weird. Wondering about something weird in SLO County? Send your tips to Gabby Ferreira at firstname.lastname@example.org or @Its_GabbyF on Twitter.
And find “That’s SLO Weird” on Flipboard by going here and clicking “follow.”
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Have you ever seen something in the night sky that wasn’t ... normal?
Something that can’t be easily explained as a plane or a satellite or a weather balloon?
If so, you’re not alone.
Especially not in San Luis Obispo County, which has reported more than 100 UFO sightings in the last few decades, according to the National UFO Reporting Center. The website began collecting local anonymous reports about 20 years ago.
The unidentified flying objects vary in shape. People have reported seeing disks, fireballs, cigar- and triangle-shaped objects, bright orange lights and flashes of light.
The website casts doubt on some of the reports. One sighting, of a “bright white cylindrical object” near Hollister Peak in June 2008, was noted as a possible meteor.
But there are many other reports where no alternate explanation is suggested.
One observer reported seeing a “round formation of bluish white lights” near the top of Bishop Peak in June 2008, as they were driving up Foothill Boulevard from Los Osos Valley Road.
“The lights continually changed their brightness, and this object moved VERY very different to anything I’ve seen,” the person wrote, adding that two of the lights got brighter when they waved at it.
In September 2002, a man and his wife were camping at Lake Nacimiento near Paso Robles when they saw a bright white light drop from the sky and hover. A small light dropped out of the larger light, turned north and disappeared.
“I thought I saw a shooting star, then maybe a rocket launch, then maybe a plane crashing ... but it just disappeared!” wrote one person who reported seeing a fireball in Grover Beach in December 2008.
The observer said they originally thought they were seeing a rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, but the object was moving downward and didn’t have a trail, like one that would come off a rocket — and it moved too slowly to be a shooting star.
In January 2010, an observer said they saw two blue-green lights moving northeast over Arroyo Grande “at unbelievable speed.”
The lights moved soundlessly and “were too blue and too fast to be from my planet,” the observer wrote, noting that two adults witnessed the lights and it was a clear, starry night.
Here’s how San Luis Obispo County breaks down in order of areas with the most sightings:
- San Luis Obispo, 22
- Paso Robles, 21
- Pismo Beach, 15
- Arroyo Grande, 14
- Nipomo, 13
- Atascadero, 11
- Morro Bay, 9
- Grover Beach, 9
- Cambria, 5
- Cayucos, 5
- Los Osos, 4
- Oceano, 4
- Templeton, 4
- Avila, 3
- California Valley, 2
- Santa Margarita, 2
- San Simeon, 1