UFO explained: it was Chinese sky lanterns!

It was described as an 'orange ball of light'over limavady, that led to stargazers around the country claiming it was an unidentified flying object, but when one Journal reader saw the story she felt compelled to confess and tell the truth.

The Ballykelly woman, preferring to remain anonymous, said the ball of orange was actually Chinese sky lanterns she released just before 5pm on Christmas Day.

Almost the size of a wheelie bin at 103cm high the lanterns are commonly used for weddings and other celebrations. They glow orange due to a flame, and operate like a hot air balloon.

"They go until they burn themselves out. They're great craic," said the woman, who said she let off three paper lanterns just before 5pm on Christmas Day, when the reports were made. Despite claims the ball of orange was a UFO, the woman is adamant it was her lanterns.

"My son said I should say nothing, but I knew I had to ring up and tell the truth."

The woman who sold the lanterns was Derry woman Clare McElhinney, of Angel Fire Sky Lanterns. It is not the first time she has been blamed for possible UFO sightings. When she heard about the latest reports, she laughed.

"People automatically think it's a UFO, but I'm sorry to disappoint them." Last year, the same thing happened at a wedding in Dublin when Chinese sky lanterns were let off. The incident was reported widely on the internet and was even the highlight of a paranormal convention. The much publicised and discussed 'UFOs' were actually Chinese sky lanterns released by a local couple as a romantic end to their perfect day.

Nonetheless, since the 'Journal' reported on the ball of orange, several readers have called about other strange sightings from Dungiven to Limavady.