It's always exciting to get your tin foil hat out of the wardrobe for the monthly UFO sighting video that's going viral.
While some people are absolutely convinced little green men are monitoring our planet, others are quick to dismiss it as nothing more than a military test or some kids playing with fireworks.
Unfortunately, all these people aren't experts. They're simply internet keyboard warriors who like to shit on other people's parades for no other reason than the fact social media has given them a voice, so they're going to use it.
One man who is an expert is former NASA employee James Oberg, now a space journalist and historian, who spends his time explaining UFO sightings to the masses.
James Oberg. Credit: JamesOberg.com
He doesn't like to dismiss them out of hand and he's not looking to tell people aliens exist, he's simply trying to figure out why people react so passionately about outer space pictures and videos.
In order to do this, he's had to go through decades' worth of UFO sightings and eyewitness testimony before cross-referencing them with mission logs to come up with a rather interesting conclusion.
Speaking to AtlasObscura, Oberg said: "Our sensory system is functioning absolutely perfectly for Earth conditions. But we're still a local civilisation. Moving beyond our neighbourhood has been visually confusing".
He then went into a load of detail about three outer space phenomena which cause us humans to lose our shit and the truth behind them. I'm going to do my absolute best to simplify this as much as possible so please bear with me, it's complicated stuff.
1. Super-High Plumes
Remember at the back end of last year when the residents of California were bamboozled by a strange object shooting across the night sky?
Well that's called a super-high plume and it's essentially just a swarm of particles that come out of a rocket thruster as it shoots through space. A cone of blue light expanding across the night sky is always going to look cool, but the explanation is simply that rocket plumes act different to plane plumes because of the air.
"It was 300 miles away, up in space and sunlit, which never occurred to them, because this is not something within the normal range of human experience", Oberg explained.
2 - Space Dandruff
NASA shuttles go up into space with backward facing cameras for research purposes. Sometimes footage from these cameras show grainy white spots dancing in front of the camera. This is known as 'space dandruff' and causes the imaginative among us to think aliens are trying to contact us.
Oberg says that because we're watching these videos standing still, we're watching them with an 'Earth frame of mind'. We need to remember that the shuttle is travelling at close to 17,500 miles per hour and so if an alien ship was actually in full view of the camera, it'd fly by in a split second. Anything that stays in the line of the camera that long would have to have come from the shuttle itself.
"The earth's still dark, the sky is full of stars, and these little snowflakes are playing out there, tumbling".
3. Twilight Shadowing
According to Oberg, a lot of these UFO sighting videos happen at a similar time in every orbit - when the shuttle has just left Earth and is bathed in sunlight, meaning the camera is pointed back towards the horizon.
Around five minutes in to the above video, small specks of light coming in and out of sight have had space buffs excited for years.
However, those objects aren't actually jumping in and out of view, they're much more likely to be moving in and out of the shuttle's shadow. Nothing more, nothing less.
In all seriousness, if you want way more detail on this I suggest you head over to AtlasObscura.
In the mean time, it's always nice when cool science stuff is explained by an expert and not a spotty man wearing a tin hat in a video from an account called UFOHMYGOD.
Words by George Pavlou
Featured image credit: Vladimir Pustovit via Flickr