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Saturday, July 11, 1998 Published at 06:35 GMT 07:35 UK
The Z from outer space
A large meteorite is being blamed for hundreds of sightings of bright lights
in the sky along the west coast of Britain on Friday evening.
Initially the authorities were baffled about the source of the lights, which
looked like the letter Z or the number 2.
Belfast Coastguard Duty Watch Manager Bungy Williamson: "It was intriguing"
It was not until early on Saturday morning that an airline pilot who landed at
East Midlands airport was able to provide a rational explanation.
The pilot reported seeing a large meteorite entering the atmosphere as he was
flying to the UK from France.
He claimed to have watched it breaking up and leaving a long trail in its wake
which was then formed by winds into shapes resembling the letters.
Throughout Friday evening police and coastguards from Cornwall to Scotland
were inundated with calls from people who spotted the lights, though most came
from people living around the Irish Sea.
Coastguards in Belfast said they had received dozens of 999 calls and admitted
they had seen lights in the sky which they watched for an hour above the north
coast of Ireland.
A spokesman said the lights formed a large Z-shape. "It was very prominent and
was due north of the coastguard station. We were able to watch it from the
"I can say that I have never seen anything like it before.
"It was a larger shape than the moon but as we were unable to measure the
distance it was impossible to judge its actual size. I made a drawing of the
object which shortly before midnight began to fade.
"It appeared to be moving very slowly westwards. When we first saw the object
it was not completely dark. It was higher than the clouds and occasionally it
was obscured by passing clouds."
Another report was received by Teesside Air Traffic control tower near
Middlesbrough who reported seeing an object resembling the letter Q in the sky
west of their position.
In a statement, the Department of Transport said: "The sightings were from as
far apart as Cornwall to the Clyde, west to Belfast and east to Leeds.
"Air traffic control systems were contacted and it was established no aircraft
were missing or overdue.
"RAF Fylingdales early warning station reported no undue activity, as did
"We can only summarize it is space debris or a comet." (WHAT??!!! - Stu)
Departing perhaps from the dryness associated with the civil service the
statement added: "Coastguard and air traffic control are satisfied this is not
aircraft related, so we can only assume whatever it is comes from 'out
Sounds like a classic meteor trail to me...
... anyone on the List see anything? Rob? No chance from here, the sky was
completely clouded out all night.
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