NASA solves Ribble Valley UFO mystery

EXPLANATIONS and further eye witness accounts have been flooding in after a possible UFO sighting in the night sky over Chatburn.

Sarah Bryant, of Greenfield Avenue, Chatburn, raised the alert over the "UFO", which she and her husband say was blazing a trail in a slow arc across the sky just after 8 p.m. on Monday, September 22nd.

Puzzled as to what the object was, Sarah wrote: "I know my husband and I were not seeing things and wonder if anyone else saw it? I'd love to know we were not alone and I'd love to know what it was!"

More people have confirmed the story. Carol Leonard was outside St Peter's Club, in Hurst Green, with a friend when they both witnessed the mystery object. "It wasn't a shooting star – I've seen enough of those to know what they look like – so I thought it might be a meteorite that had burnt out," said Carol. "And no... I don't drink!"

Judith Hughes e-mailed: "I also saw the blazing, flying object on Monday. At first my heart skipped a beat as I thought it was a shooting star, but I quickly realised it was around for far too long for that. Just one significant difference from Sarah's sighting – the object I saw was definitely flying East!"

Susan Humphries, of Chatburn, told us: "I also saw the flaming object. I saw it clearly from indoors, and it appeared as a disc – not a point like a meteor – with a tail, just as she describes. It was travelling approximately east, though, and falling."

John Jardine also spotted the mystery object over Longridge, writing: "Sarah's description was just what I would have said – a low, slow trajectory ... like a meteor, but bigger and slower. The whole episode lasted for about 10-15 seconds and then it was lost to my view. But here's the thing – it was at 9-40 p.m. so this bright light had been around for some time."

John added: "I live on a hill and I regularly see over big distances at night. I do know what aircraft navigation lights are like and have seen the police helicopter hovering and searching too many times to be mistaken. It was weird and fascinating."

Several more people reported similar sightings, but Clitheronian Peter Townson shed most light on the mystery. He believes it is "highly likely" it saw was the International Space Station, orbiting the earth.

Regular Space Shuttle missions to extend and modify the ISS mean it is growing in size and is now often visible in the night sky, where it reflects light like a bright, slow moving star.

The NASA website confirms the ISS was visible above the Ribble Valley on September 22nd for three minutes from 8-12 p.m. and again for less than a minute from 9-46 p.m., tying in exactly with the Chatburn sightings and John Jardine's sighting over Longridge.

Still not convinced? The website also predicts when the ISS will be visible over your location (the nearest choice being Preston) if the atmospheric conditions are right. Today it should be visible for three minutes from 8-17 p.m., quite low in the sky, if it is clear. For those keen to see the ISS in orbit, the website address is: www.spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/cities/view.cgi?country=United_Kingdom&region=England&city=Preston

Other information about the ISS can also be found on www.nasa.gov