UFO spotted by multiple pilots prompts investigation

Pilots saw bright lights "moving so fast" over Ireland Friday. They're not calling the sight aliens, but authorities are taking a closer look.

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2 min read

Space junk could explain what pilots saw over Ireland last week.

NASA/P.Spurny/Astronomical Institute

Pilots flying over Ireland on Friday reported seeing an unidentified flying object, or possibly objects, spurring an investigation into the UFO (or UFOs) by the Irish Aviation Authority.

The sighting was recorded over radio traffic between air traffic control in Shannon, Ireland, and multiple pilots. At 6:47 a.m. UTC, one British Airways pilot can be heard asking controllers if there were any military exercises taking place in the area. Air traffic control responds that no such exercises are visible on radar.

"It was moving so fast," the pilot says. "It [came] up on our left hand side and then rapidly veered to the north. We saw a bright light and then it just disappeared at a very high speed."

The pilot explains the team didn't fear the object was on a "collision course," but was just wondering what it could be.

At that point another pilot cuts in, saying his Virgin Airlines 747 also had encountered multiple meteors or some other sort of objects "making some kind of reentry."

"Appeared to be multiple objects following the same sort of trajectory," the pilot says. "They were very bright where we were."

The Irish Aviation Authority later told local media the reports were being investigated.

Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who also makes a habit of tracking space launches and the many bits of space junk that regularly burn up in the atmosphere, tweeted that he wasn't aware of any satellites known to be reentering at that time.  

But as McDowell himself has pointed out in the past, there are literally thousands of objects whipping around Earth. It's possible any number of them could have reentered the atmosphere and been responsible for what the pilots spotted.

Or, as one of the pilots suspected, it could have been a small meteor burning up in the atmosphere. Four major meteor showers are currently active, according the the American Meteor Society, including the Taurids, which are know to produce bright fireballs in the sky.

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