Saturday, 10 November 2007

UFO found in Topsham

This is an "unenquiring media" story rather than a bad science story. The Exeter Express & Echo has reported a run of UFO sightings recently (not coincidentally, I'm sure, with the run-up to November 5th). Finally, however, one has come to earth: Charred remains and bright lights add to growing UFO claims.

Anne Lock says she found the remnants of a "bright something" that she had spotted overhead on Sunday evening near her home in Monmouth Avenue, Topsham. It was about 8.15pm when I saw a series of bright lights in the sky somewhere over the rugby ground. There were about four in a line and another four or six behind moving about. I went upstairs and that's when I saw this big bright something over the garden. In the morning, I found what seemed like the remains of a miniature parachute - only it wasn't a parachute. It was gauze or muslin and shaped like a light bulb. It was about three feet high and 12 inches across. All around it was bits of charred residue, like charred paper.

From the description, it's almost certainly a sky lantern, a miniature hot air balloon. They're traditional in East Asia, where they feature in beautiful festival displays (see YouTube for examples) but are becoming increasingly popular in the UK for celebrations and as an alternative to fireworks (the trad burning paraffin-soaked rag that keeps them aloft has been replaced by solid fuel in the high-tech ones). They have been behind a number of British UFO sightings over the past couple of years (see, for instance, Lanterns spark UFO scare and Aliens in town? No, I'm to blame).
      Mrs Lock can hardly be blamed for not recognising one; they're still quite new here. But I would have thought it within the resources of a newspaper to come to the same conclusion I did.


Anonymous said...

"It was about 8.15pm when I saw a series of bright lights in the sky somewhere over the rugby ground."

Yes, rugby clubs. Those places never ever host Guy Fawks parties this time of yesr ...

Poor Pothecary said...

The Topsham one wasn't on that day, but it's not exactly .. ahem ... rocket science to assume some flavour of firework. I'm inclined to think the paper has spun this as a UFO story. I haven't been able to catch Mrs Lock in yet, but I'm trying to check out the identification. Whoever launched them is a bit naughty; the makers generally advise not using them within 5 miles of an airport.