Astronomer: Lights in sky likely lanterns

Feb. 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

WANUIOMATA, New Zealand, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A New Zealand astronomer said two "bright orange fire balls" spotted over a Wellington suburb were likely Chinese lanterns blown away by the wind.

Michelle Turner said she and a group of 10 friends were partying in Wanuiomata at 1:05 a.m. Sunday, the start of the Chinese New Year, and they spotted the lights in the sky, The Dominion Post, Wellington, reported Monday.

Carter Observatory astronomer Claire Bretherton said the lights, described as "two bright orange fireballs" moving together and changing directions, were likely Chinese lanterns carried away by the wind.

''They were probably moving with the prevailing wind. If it was something like a fireball or meteor it would not change direction.," Bretherton said.

''It was just so weird," Turner said. "They were traveling at the same speed, then they turned at the same time in another direction and one looked like it disappeared, then came back, then disappeared again, then the other one disappeared.''

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