'Fireball' Over Tasmania Sparks Debate Between Skeptics and Believers

The 'fireball' over Australia.  Image credit: Lee-Anne Peters

The 'fireball' over Australia.  Image credit: Lee-Anne Peters

Facebook user Lee-Anne Peters posted a video to her page on February 28th that seemed to show a fireball flying across the sky above Sorell, a farming community in Tasmania, Australia.  The internet was soon abuzz with speculation regarding its source, with some saying that it must be an alien spacecraft, and yet others saying it was likely some sort of space debris.  

However, the federal government's air navigation services provider Airservices Australia confirmed the same day that the object was nothing more than an aircraft "as it passed over Australian airspace."  The object's appearance as a fireball was explained by the rising sun reflecting off of the plane's contrails.

"This is the photo someone took which convinced me that it was a plane," said Peters.

"This is the photo someone took which convinced me that it was a plane," said Peters.

This did little to deter those who sought an extraterrestrial explanation, as disbelief in the official explanation grew.

"Sorry folks.....that is definitely a UFO...Godspeed to you," wrote one Internet commenter.

“This isn't a bloody plane, wake up people... Planes don't leave flames so how bout you all open your f*****g eyes and get some perspective,” wrote another.

 Scott C. Waring of the website UFO Sightings Daily also provided commentary refuting the official explanation.

"In the end, no one really knows what it is or where it came from, or where it went," wrote Waring.  "The chance of this being a plane...that's zero percent.  I worked on B1 and B2 in the USAF...this is not a plane.  This is 100% proof that UFOs exist."

The government's explanation is currently being touted as a cover-up by websites like UFO Sightings Daily, but little is offered in the way of proof beyond a dismissal of the evidence.  It seems unlikely that any explanation will suffice to convince certain individuals of this incident's mundanity, since the very nature of conspiracy theories lends itself to ardent disbelief in competing ideologies.

“It is not uncommon for people to mistake jet contrails for meteors, especially in the afternoon and in the western sky as the sun sets," said David Finlay from Australian Meteor Reports.  "I’ve watched some people looking at contrails who even thought they were seeing a comet."

Or, in this case, an alien spacecraft.  

Tobias Wayland