17 July 2008-STRANGE objects have been spotted in the skies over North Somerset.
Whether a bright white light, a glowing ball or even a flying saucer, several sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have been making headlines over the past month.
However, as shown by files released by the Ministry of Defence earlier in the year, the North Somerset public's fascination with little green men goes back a long time.
In 1984, a picture was taken of a UFO flying over Weston's Grand Pier at the speed of a light aircraft.
The photo was posted on an American website where comments were left promoting the credibility of the witness.
Other-wordly sightings were also made in the North Somerset area in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2008.
Just last month, a disc-shaped object was seen hovering over the M5 near Weston.
It was spotted by a Royal Navy engineer who said it was like no other aircraft he had seen before.
Also in June, a police helicopter crew saw moving lights over the Bristol Channel.
However, reports since then have said the illuminations were more likely to have been oriental lanterns that were set off at a wedding in south Wales than little green men who had come to take a look at our planet.
Such lanterns are now a common cause of false UFO reports according to ufology researcher Robert Moore.
The 41-year-old, from East Huntspill, said: "With UFOs featuring heavily in the media and the forthcoming release of a new X Files movie, more witnesses are openly disclosing their experiences in public.
"However, the vast majority of sightings in recent years seem to be generated by aerial Chinese lanterns.
"This has now become one of the main causes of spurious UFO reports described as clusters of slow-moving, orange lights.
"The vast majority of events have a rational explanation, however a small percentage remain unresolved, causing considerable speculation about their origin.
"This has ranged from unusual natural phenomena such as charged plasma clouds up to extraterrestrial visitors.
"The truth is no-one can firmly attribute a solution to them."
In a recent report in national newspaper the Daily Telegraph, the founder member of Strange Phenomena Investigations, Malcolm Robinson said the number of sightings in the UK recently had been very unusual.
He said: "Something very bizarre is happening in the skies.
"Some experts believe it could be linked to global warming and craft from outer space are appearing because they are concerned about what man is doing to this planet."
If you have spotted anything strange in the area log onto www.westonmercury.co.uk and go to the Weird Weston forum.
1. Weston - June 29, 2008: A disc-shaped object was spotted hovering in the sky above the M5 for about three minutes before flying off at speed. The sighting was made by a Royal Navy aircraft engineer.
2. Weston - February 22, 1999: Two large round, white objects were spotted with a very bright light. They remained stationery for about 15 minutes.
3. Weston - June 17, 2001: A round, red, glowing ball was moving through the sky, which changed colour as it slowed down. A second object then appeared.
4. Weston - March 2, 2002: Large, numerous lights were seen that were white and very bright. They were wheel shaped.
5. Weston - August, 1984: A photograph was taken of an object above the Grand Pier. It was travelling northwards at about the speed of a light aircraft. It disappeared after the photo was taken.
6. Bristol Channel - May 12, 2001: Two satellite shaped objects were seen, which were white and very bright.
7. Bristol Channel - June 8, 2008: Reports were made of moving lights over the channel.
8. Clevedon - August 2006 (no firm date): A globe-shaped, lighted object fluttered through the sky. According to the eye-witness it looked erratic.
source and references:
Archived UFO Articles and News Items, 2008
UFO Casebook Home Page