What is your take on UFOs?
— Bradley Hortense, Twin Rock, Mont.
Ah, the age-old question: Are there little green men, after all?
With all due respect to Signor Schiaparelli, modern astronomers have ruled out canals on Mars—so if you’re worried about interplanetary war with our nearest neighbors, you can rest assured that they’re not very good at irrigation.
But what about planets farther down the solar system? Not to worry. They look fairly sleepy these days, give or take some cosmic rings. If hot-spots like Venus or Jupiter ever supported life, it was a long time ago. Too bad the dinosaurs didn’t fashion any telescopes. (Optomesaur?).
Now, as for the broader field of “unidentified flying objects”—you can hardly throw a stone without hitting one. I read reports every few days about one conspicuous airborne thing or another, and whether you’re living in New York or New Zealand, your odds of spotting a flying saucer, man-eating bird, fiery light, or glowing green triangle are good enough to please a craps player.
Sometimes it’s just the Aurora Borealis, other times it’s a poorly wiped camera lens. But the sky is a big place. Are there strange happenings up there? Without a doubt. What are they, precisely? That’s up in the air.