A light on North Devon UFO mystery?
UNEXPLAINED bright lights in the North Devon sky have prompted a number of letters to the Gazette in recent weeks. Circular bright orange lights have been spotted in Braunton, Bideford, Westward Ho! and Torrington, often travelling quite slowly, about
UNEXPLAINED bright lights in the North Devon sky have prompted a number of letters to the Gazette in recent weeks.
Circular "bright orange lights" have been spotted in Braunton, Bideford, Westward Ho! and Torrington, often travelling "quite slowly, about 30 seconds apart, at a fairly low trajectory", according to one bemused onlooker.
One reader saw "four or five very bright orange stars moving south that gradually extinguished", while another described a number of silent "mysterious looking objects" that disappeared one by one as they slowly moved towards Hartland.
But far from being visitations by life forms from a distant galaxy, staff at a Barnstaple toy shop think the answer can be found a little closer to home.
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Steve Regester, manager of Hawkins Bazaar in the Green Lanes Shopping Centre, said the sightings could have been Chinese-style "Sky Lanterns" that are often released at weddings and other celebrations.
The three-foot high rice paper lanterns are flame-resistant. In fine weather, they will climb several miles before burning out and falling back to earth after around 15 to 20 minutes.
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Mr Regester said shop had been selling lots of the lanterns during the last few months.
"The recent letters in the Gazette have caused myself and my colleagues much amusement, because we are responsible," he said.
"The lights are Sky Lanterns and have been bought from my shop, where they have proved to be very popular for special occasions.
"People have been using them at weddings and birthdays and I have even heard that some have used them to send off cremated remains. Some people write goodwill messages on the lanterns and send them off; it is quite a nice and gentle thing to do.
"They are biodegradable as they are made of paper and only fall to the ground once the flame has burned out."
"I hope this solves the mystery."
Last summer, the Gazette ran a double page feature following multiple reports of similar strange orange lights in the sky. A number of people also said they had launched Chinese lanterns at the time of reported sightings.
COULD Chinese lanterns explain the number of recent UFO sightings? Read this week's readers' letters section for a different opinion...