Mon, 22 Jan 2007 21:35 CST
A MAJOR search involving two RAF helicopters was sparked in Dumfries on Friday (Jan 19) evening after sightings of a "fireball" in the sky.
Police received a number of reports of flare -like objects in the sky over Dumfries.
The calls came in from several worried members of the public at around 5pm.
However, the "fireball" turned out to be Comet McNaught blazing millions of miles away from earth.
The police and the RAF checked the area fearing that an aircraft may have been on fire.
A spokesperson for Dumfries and Galloway police said: "The reports varied in description with all the witnesses describing some form of fireball with smoke trail. A search was carried out and the area was checked by an RAF search team with a negative result.
"The Met office offered a possible explanation that Comet McNaught would have been visible between 5pm and 6pm."
Comment: Interesting that the fireball was described by many witnesses as having a smoke trail - I could have sworn that comets had big, glowing tails. As a matter of fact, according to Sciencedaily.com (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070119144255.htm)
"In early January, it [comet McNaught] was visible in the northern hemisphere but after passing the Sun, it only became visible from the southern hemisphere, entering the constellation Microscopium (The Microscope) on 18 January."
Isn't Dumfries in the Northern Hemisphere? - but, hey, I'm probably just nit picking - move along, nothing to see here.