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What's that mysterious light in the night sky?

Are the aliens coming? A bright light in the sky is very possibly Venus but eyewitnesses have been mystified by it. Photo: Jason Borg.

Are the aliens coming? A bright light in the sky is very possibly Venus but eyewitnesses have been mystified by it. Photo: Jason Borg.

For more than a month, a bright light in the sky has been astounding those who see it, making them wonder what it is.

Almost every evening, soon after sunset, the bright light appears over the Floriana church, moving to Lija and then onto Ta' Qali. An hour later, it just disappears into thin air, according to eyewitnesses.

But what is this light? A star, a planet...or an unidentified flying object? And does this sighting have the potential of turning Malta into the Mediterranean's Roswell?

According to eyewitnesses, the light is brighter than anything else in the sky and appears to hover lower than passing planes. It moves westwards generally but, according to eyewitnesses, on March 13, the light started moving erratically.

"It looked as if it was being attacked or it was attacking," said a man who has been monitoring the light since catching a first glimpse of it on February 9. The witness would not be named fearing the social repercussions. But he is not the only one to be puzzled by strange lights in the sky.

Newly released documents of the UK Ministry of Defence show that the Royal Air Force took such sightings very seriously. For instance, officials of the RAF briefed ministers on the sighting of a diamond-shaped object near Pitlochry, Perthshire, in 1990. They feared Russian secret weapons more than alien invaders, however.

Lancashire-based astronomer Victor Debattista holds the planet theory. If a planet appears low in the sky, a lot of atmospheric turbulence could make it look like it was moving about erratically or relatively fast, he explained. And when objects appear low in the sky, their colour may change dramatically due to turbulence which refracts the light.

The refraction, he said, acts like a prism wobbling about in the sky, transmitting different colours to those observing it.

Local astronomers, who have their eyes riveted to the sky, have not seen anything out of the ordinary, the vice-president of the Astronomical Society of Malta Alexei Pace said. Mr Pace, who has seen photos of the light, said it is likely to be Venus, currently the brightest object in the sky and visible as soon as the sky starts to darken after sunset.

The planet is also located towards the west to northwest, which is where eyewitnesses said they saw the bright light.

"It is lower in the sky than other stars, and in fact each day it sets at an earlier time. Being so low in the sky it also changes colour due to atmospheric effects," Mr Pace said.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, has said that Venus is regularly mistaken for a UFO.

Venus will remain visible in the sky until Friday...but if the light appears again afterwards then who knows, Malta could be onto its very own UFO.

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