As a kid, I was always intrigued with UFO sightings and I guess I'm still a little that way ... therefore how could I not jump at the opportunity to explore some UFO sightings data!
I guess "UFO" doesn't necessarily imply that something is an alien space ship - just that it's "unidentified". And lately, with all the remote controlled drones, I'm wondering if they might be responsible for some of the UFO sightings? I guess my favorite drone-prank would be the flying reaper. Here's a picture of my friend David's drone (not sure if he's played any pranks yet).
But anyway, back to the main topic - UFO sightings! I found some data available online at www.nuforc.org, and found the report for the sightings in North Carolina. I wrote some SAS code to read in the html text for the report, and parse out the data into a format that I could programmatically analyze and plot.
The toughest part was the data cleaning. The data entry apparently had no spell-check, etc, and allowed users to enter things like the location in free-form-text. And the various people entering their reports weren't consistent (and some weren't the best spellers). Therefore I had to scrutinize many of the locations manually, to deduce a valid city name which I could then use in Proc Geocode (to get a latitude/longitude to plot on the map).
Once all that was done, I created the following map using Proc Gmap with annotated markers. Click the image below to see the interactive map - it has html hover-text on the markers (UFO pun intended!), and you can click the city markers to drill-down to a table of all the sightings for that city, and then click the links in the table to see the actual sighting reports.
Have you ever seen a UFO, or do you have a theory about UFOs? Feel free to share in a comment!