People know California has out-of-this world mountains, deserts, beaches and food. But the Golden State is otherworldly in another category as well: UFO sightings.
The state has had more than 12,000 reported sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, according to the National UFO Reporting Center and the UFO Sightings Desk Reference, a first-of-its-kind book that analyzes such sightings and was released two weeks ago.
According to the center, the latest sightings in California occurred in Van Nuys and Miramar, in San Diego County. The first sighting occurred on March 17, when someone noticed several "items flying in formation, moving very fast in the night sky" silently before disappearing behind some clouds.
"I am very familiar with the night sky and various normal items that one would see, this was not normal and too silent and too fast to be of terrestrial origin," the person wrote.
On March 21, someone in Miramar reported to the center that they saw "rapid blinking light that appeared to grow in size, first just one light was visible then the formation became visible," the witness wrote. "It traveled quite low at a fast speed at one point making a u-turn in the opposite direction."
The curiosity and fascination over aliens and UFOs has created a cultural phenomenon that has translated to books, television shows and movies such as "Communion," "E.T. the Extraterrestrial" and most recently, "Arrival."
On YouTube, people have uploaded unexplained sightings. Two years ago, in November, video blogger Julien Solomita noticed a bright cone of light streaking across the sky in Van Nuys and began to record the object with his camera.
Solomita posted his expletive-filled video to YouTube, titling it "Massive Blue UFO Over Los Angeles." More than 2.5 million people viewed the footage and circulated it widely on social media.
Ultimately, it turned out that the spectacle was caused by a U.S. Navy submarine off the coast that had launched an unarmed missile. The launch was one in a series of unannounced tests the Navy had planned, according to officials.