Location: Harrismith, Free State, South Africa
Date: 2 November 2011
Riaan van Greuning of Eloff near Delmas, said that at 22:00 on Sunday night he saw a strange phenomenon in Harrismith and took photographs of what looks like fireballs.
“It was cloudy and the phenomenon was fairly low in the sky. Five of these objects appeared in a matter of 20 minutes.”
Greuning said the fireballs moved from north to south, made no noise and were relatively slow moving.
“I do not know what it was. Something like this makes one think. All I know is that it was not a helicopter’s searchlight.”
He has since consulted several websites, but could not get clarity on what he saw.
“I don’t believe in aliens. This is really just a strange thing.”
On Facebook, several readers in Bloemfontein said they had seen the strange lights the past few nights too.
Professor Matie Hoffman, of the physics department at the University of the Free State and the Boyden Observatory, said that phenomenon seen below clouds falls outside his field of expertise.
“My ideas are only as good as any other member of the public.” He said the objects remind him of emergency flares. “They can stay in the air for quite a long time.”
A former resident in the Middle East, Phillippa Lowe, said the so-called “silent fireballs” were most likely Chinese lanterns, which are miniature hot air balloons – as seen in the cartoon Tangled.
The air in the lanterns are heated by a compressed firelighter than can burn for a long time, keeping the lanterns afloat.
– Karen Ebersohn, Volksblad