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Look, up in the sky!

BY JULIA KENT | JAN 12 2009

Even though you may not hear about it, Canadians are still spotting unidentified flying objects, long after their heyday in the 1950s and ’60s, says Chris Rutkowski, a UFO hobbyist whose day job is communications officer at the University of Manitoba.

Mr. Rutkowski says there are hundreds of reports each year in Canada from coast to coast, which he and fellow astronomy buff Geoff Dittman publish in an annual online compilation.

Canadians from all walks of life – including, yes, university professors – have told Mr. Rutkowski they’ve seen a UFO, but he says many are hesitant to admit they saw something unusual. Recent surveys show about 10 percent of Canadians have seen an unidentified object in the sky, which indicates this is an area worthy of study, he says.

Witnesses report seeing everything from fireballs to star-like objects to classic Hollywood-style flying saucers. A significant portion of these sightings are likely misidentifications or errors in perception, but he thinks very few are made up.

Many people find it difficult to believe such sightings are spacecraft from another planet, and that’s understandable, says Mr. Rutkowski. “It’s healthy to be doubtful. But it’s fact that people observe objects that don’t have an easy explanation.”

For his part, Mr. Rutkowski believes UFOs exist, but says there’s no evidence linking them to extraterrestrial civilizations. “I can’t rule out the possibility,” he says. “But I don’t see any proof to this effect.”

Mr. Rutkowski, who holds an undergraduate degree in astronomy and a graduate degree in science education, has authored or co-authored five books on UFOs. He also makes frequent visits to Winnipeg high schools to give workshops on creative writing and UFOs. His goal, he says, is to make students more interested in science and the universe.

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