10 Historical UFO sightings that went viral, from Nuremberg in 1561 to England in 1066


For decades, popular culture has churned out a plethora of content about extraterrestrial life forms, or ETs, visiting Earth. Such phenomena have become embedded in mainstream media, from entertaining movies like 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still to the Government's secretive Project Blue Book, which allegedly investigated UFOs in the 1950s and '60s.

But what if these tales were more than just fiction? What if there were concrete historical examples of such sightings? Below are ten fascinating instances of UFO sightings throughout history, from Nuremberg in 1561 to England in 1066.

Nuremberg, 1561

The city of Nuremberg, then a Free Imperial City and part of the Holy Roman Empire, witnessed a bizarre phenomenon on April 14, 1561. Hundreds of witnesses saw hundreds of spheres flying through the sky and some falling to Earth in clouds of smoke. They also saw a massive black triangular object. Multiple sightings were reported over the following days.

Ever since then, ufologists have claimed that the 1561 sighting above Nuremberg was a case where an entire city witnessed an aerial alien battle. Spacecraft between two warring factions were supposedly fighting each other, the claim goes. If that's true, this would be one of the biggest and most notable UFO sightings ever recorded.

Skeptics disagree, though. Scientists say the Nuremberg residents most likely witnessed some kind of unique and bizarre (but thoroughly natural) solar phenomenon. The leading theory is that the 1561 group saw what is now known as a "sun dog."

Basel, 1566

The mornings of July 27 and July 28, 1566, and then again less than two weeks later, on August 7, the residents of Basel, Switzerland, woke up to a series of unique celestial phenomena. On the first morning, an "unusual" sunrise was followed by a total eclipse of the moon. Then, on the second morning, the sun rose red. Finally, on the third morning, a cloud of moving, bizarre red and black spheres or orbs were seen blocking out parts of the sun as it rose.

The third morning is the one that is most puzzling to ufologists. They claim that Basel, just like Nuremberg before it, was the site of some kind of alien sky battle that was inadvertently witnessed by folks living in the Swiss town.

Predictably, at the time, people in Basel believed it to be a religious event with various faith-based implications. Pamphlets and broadsheets that commemorated the event take that angle of thinking, as the idea of little green men whipping around in flying saucers would have been completely unknown to the average Basel resident in the middle of the 16th century.

Morocco Swarm, 1952

In the summer of 1952, people in multiple areas around the North African nation of Morocco reported seeing bizarre lights and orbs in the sky. It started over the city of Marrakech on the night of July 16, when at about 9:00 pm local time, "many people" saw a large, luminous disc flying horizontally across the sky. Then, a second disc appeared right after it. Both flying discs hovered for about a minute together before they went off into the night sky and weren't seen again.

A second sighting occurred on August 2, 1952, at about 8:45 pm local time. In that one, an object flashed in the sky over the town of Moulay Bousselham in French Morocco. The object was described as being red at its center with a blue edge around it. It flew "very rapidly" from the southeast to the northwest and was visible for only about 20 seconds this time before disappearing over the horizon.

Throughout the rest of August, other saucer-like objects were seen at various points flying around in northern Morocco and southern Spain. People in various towns kept reporting flying spaceship activity to the authorities in each country. The reports carried all the way through until the end of September 1952, when a pilot of a so-called "tourist plane" witnessed flying saucers around his airplane while flying over Casablanca and Tangier. The CIA documented all the sightings, but they have never been publicly explained.

Ezekiel's Wheel, 6th Century BC

The Book of Ezekiel is famous among Christians and religious scholars alike for describing Ezekiel's alleged encounter with beings with four faces and having visions involving a "wheel within a wheel." The religious among us believe that Ezekiel saw God. Skeptics and ufologists, however, think that the ancient man actually saw aliens, and what he is describing in the Bible is really some kind of extraterrestrial encounter.

But could that really be true? Could the Bible have been the first place where early ufologists (even if they didn't consider themselves that) peddled their opinions and beliefs?

In the story, Ezekiel was stuck as one of the captives of the Babylonian conquest of 606 BC. There, on the river Chebar, the "heavens were opened," and Ezekiel claimed that he "saw visions of God." Specifically, he first saw the likeness of four living creatures. They were built somewhat like men, but they had four faces: a lion, an ox, an eagle, and a man. Their feet were like those of calves, and they each had four wings—two which covered their bodies and two which stretched up into the sky.

Then, beneath each of those four creatures were four wheels. They were fashioned in such a way that Ezekiel described them each as "a wheel within a wheel." That