Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Astronomer sheds light on 'UFO sightings'
ABC Online, Australia

UFO spotters will not need to report a red flare and a fast moving white light in the sky over Darwin tonight - they have already been identified.

The white light will be the International Space Station, on one of its rare transits that is clearly visible across the Top End.

The red flash comes from an Iridium flare, generated by one of 70 satellites launched by the now-defunct phone company in the 1990s.

Charles Darwin University astronomy tutor Geoff Carr says the two phenomenon are often mistaken for 'close encounters'.

"You'll see a tiny light and that will brighten up enormously," he said.

"It looks almost like a flare, one of those out of a flare gun, and then it will just disappear and people have rung me up saying 'I'm sure I saw a UFO last night, it just skirted into the atmosphere, then it took off', so you know what they're talking about when they do contact you, because you know when they're visible."