Harrogate UFOs - aliens or ice crystals?

THE GREAT Harrogate UFO debate rumbles on, with readers getting in touch to claim lights spotted in the sky over Christmas may not be Chinese Lanterns after all.

It started when Bilton Grove Avenue resident Maureen Withers spotted something strange in the sky on Christmas Day.

"I quickly looked out and I saw a round orange ball with reddish flames around the edge of it," she told the Harrogate Advertiser.

But fellow readers were quick to point out that the sight could well have been Chinese lanterns.


"Sorry to spoil the fun," said harrogateadvertiser.co.uk visitor Tom Lawlor. "But they weren't aliens. They are Christmas lanterns.

Basically you get a large paper or plastic bag to make a hot air balloon, put a candle in to heat the air up and let it go."

But now more readers have written in to let us know what they've spied in the sky.

Mr and Mrs Windsor from Keswick wrote in to say: "We were visiting relatives on Christmas Day and were travelling up King Edwards Drive in the early evening when I spotted a strange orange light from the passenger window.


"It looked like a bright orange tall round lampshade, darker at the top but glowing more yellow at the base.

"Your first instinct is to say to yourself: 'There will be a logical explanation.' But maybe not!"

That sounds rather like Chinese lanterns again. But Janice Chatten from Stockwell Grove in Knaresborough saw something altogether more unusual.

She said: "That explanation will certainly not account for the phenomenon which my husband and I saw in the sky on the morning of Saturday, January 3.

White rays

"We were driving in a south-easterly direction from Knaresborough to Thorp Arch. The sun was shining and the sky was blue.

"Suddenly, a long way to the right of the sun, I noticed a ball of orange and yellow light like a bit of a rainbow but circular, with white rays streaming from it.

"A few minutes later we saw another one at a similar distance to the left of the sun. We have never seen anything like this before and I watched them spellbound for the whole of our journey.

"We wondered if the phenomenon was due to ice crystals in the atmosphere."


Graham Butler from the Met Office for Yorkshire and the Humber likes her theory: "It probably was, actually," he said.

"Very thin clouds, what we call cirrus, they are made of ice crystals," he said. "What she probably saw was what are called parhelions. They appear in an arc around the sun, so you can get them equidistant around it.

"The phenomenon she saw was probably due to sunlight and ice crystals."

Is Harrogate safe from alien invasion for another week? Let us know if you spotted anything strange in the sky, by emailing ackrill.news@ypn.co.uk

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