November 4, 2005

Fireballs seen over Germany spark UFO speculation

BERLIN (Reuters) - Numerous sightings of massive fireballs
in the skies over Germany this week have led to an upsurge in
reports of UFOs, but scientists believe the cause could be a
bizarre annual meteor blitz.

According to the Web site of the U.S. National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA), such fireballs have been
reported elsewhere in the world and may also be due to the fact
that the Earth is now orbiting through a swarm of space debris.

Many people in Germany have noticed the fireballs, said
Werner Walter, an amateur astronomer in Mannheim who runs a Web
site on unexplained astronomical phenomena and a hotline for
reports on unidentified flying objects (UFO).

"The last reported sighting was yesterday at 7:30 p.m.
(1830 GMT) in a corridor near the border of the Netherlands,"
he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"This week we have had at least 15 emails and phone calls
from people reporting these fireballs," he said. "Some people
said it looks like something out of a science fiction horror

In addition to a possible meteor streak, Walter said
amateur and professional astronomers were considering the
possibility that the blitz was the result of a "falling
satellite or UFOs."

"It is possible that they are UFOs, which are after all
things which we cannot explain," he said.

NASA's science Web site ( mentions
reports of recent fireball sightings in the United States,
Canada, the Netherlands, North Ireland and Japan. It includes
images of the fireballs, which one man likened to a spotlight.

Walter described them as "super-large, colored fireballs
that shoot with the speed of lightning through the sky."

However, the NASA Web site quotes meteor expert David Asher
from the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland as saying that
people "are probably seeing the Taurid meteor shower."

Taurids are meteors that shoot out of the constellation
Taurus, which peaks at the end of October and early November.