Monday, August 10, 2009, 09:30
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The truth is out there – and UFO researchers say it might not be as extraterrestrial as first thought.
In the past four months, 48 people have reported orange lights and mysterious "burning objects" hovering over their homes.
Each of the sightings has been investigated by the Leicestershire Unidentified Flying Object Research Society – known to members as LUFORS.
However, the organisation now thinks it has uncovered the true story behind them.
And it all appears to be nothing more out-of-this-world than summer party-goers having a bit of fun.
Society co-ordinator Graham Hall said: "We got numerous reports of orange orbs and bright lights and after researching the accounts we found that it was nothing more than Chinese lanterns.
"People were releasing them in their gardens, at parties and weddings and members of the public have been mistaking them for UFOs."
Chinese lanterns are paper-covered lamps which float up into the sky when a fuel cell is lit.
The society, based in Linden Road, Hinckley, says it released its own lanterns as an experiment in July and within 24 hours received 10 new reports of UFOs in the area.
They also invited 12 members of the public, who had previously thought they had seen flying saucers, to watch the release of the balloons.
Graham said: "All of them, except one, said the balloons resembled the objects they thought were UFOs."