NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Congress held a public hearing Tuesday, followed by a closed-door classified briefing, about what the US government calls unidentified aerial phenomena, better known as UFOs. An increase in sightings of unidentified objects by military personnel and pilots prompted this hearing, the first one in more than 50 years. 

Are these sightings extraterrestrial or man-made in nature? Congress is concerned with the potential threat to national security these unidentified aerial phenomena may pose. However, internet theories about aliens abound. News 2 spoke with Dr. Billy Teets, Director of Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory, to learn more about what may be going on above our heads.

Dr. Teets reviewed some of the military videos released before the Congressional hearing. “Doesn’t really seem like these are things that are astronomy-related. Like mistaken identities for planets, or maybe rocket bodies, or satellites or high altitude balloons and things like that,” said Dr. Teets.

Dr. Teets added the UFOs in the videos are more likely to be from Earth than outer space, “There’s this thing called Occam’s razor where if you have two plausible explanations, you should go with the simpler one. So, the fact that we have so many things in space right now, we’re getting really advanced aircrafts and, and other types of technology, a lot of these things are probably going to be manmade if not all of them.”

The skies are busier than many Middle Tennesseans realize and it’s not uncommon for people to see things they can’t explain. According to Dr. Teets, “There are satellites — especially a brighter satellite, like the space station. There’s the planet Venus — it’s kind of the main thing that is often mistaken, just because it is it’s far brighter than any of the stars and our night sky or a morning sky.”

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Dr. Teets recommended searching online if you see something interesting. There are many websites that offer information on satellite passes and astronomical phenomena. “The sky is really busy up there if you just take the time to — to sit and check it out. It’s kind of fun to spot some of these satellites and, and rockets going by.”