On January 18th, 1644, Pilgrims in Boston reported what later became known as America’s first UFO sighting. The governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, recorded in his diary:

“About midnight, three men, coming in a boat to Boston, saw two lights arise out of the water near the north point of the town cove, in form like a man, and went at a small distance to the town, and so to the south point, and there vanished away.” (Rough Daily)

Winthrop developed a theory for the phenomenon, which he also recorded in his diary. The lights were seen in the exact location where, months earlier, a shop had exploded due to a sailor accidentally igniting gunpowder on board. Five men died in the explosion.

The body of the man who was believed to have caused the explosion had never been found. This man was a sailor who claimed the ability to speak to the dead, and Winthrop, a devout Puritan, believed the devil had taken control of the sailor’s body. The eerie voice of the sailor’s ghost was also said to have accompanied the strange sight.

There have been several speculations over the cause of the glowing light, including that it may have been a phenomenon known as “ignis fatuus,” the result of the combustion of gas from decaying organic matter. However, this theory does not explain the rapid movement of the lights.

In all likelihood, the actual cause of these mysterious lights over Boston may never be known.