Accounts of strange, loud noises and mysterious lights in the sky have been coming from witnesses in Maine. No explanations have been found, but the number of theories is growing.

An astronomer in Greene suggests meteor fragments burning up in the atmosphere, like those recently seen in Colorado, are the cause. Another Greene man is convinced that the military is at the root of the phenomenon. And two men, including one who used to work on military craft, spotted jet fighters in the sky on a night when the lights were seen. There are also people who said they have not ruled out the possibility of beings from another planet.

As reports of the sightings have increased, witnesses have contacted local newspapers to relate their experiences. Their accounts are all the same? they heard a roar from the sky so loud it rattled their homes. Some reported bright flares of light that made night look like day.

?It sounded like it was right over my house, and it was loud,? says 35-year-old Karen Kenbrous. ?I didn?t go outside. I was nervous. I was expecting something to explode.?

?That sound made me consider the end of the world,? says John Comis, a doctor who lives in Auburn. ?I am not glad I heard it. But I never would have believed in it had I not.?

?I believe that your observers were treated to an especially fine display of some tardy Perseid meteors,? says amateur astronomer John Neal. The Perseid meteor shower peaked the weekend of Aug. 11-12. Neal thinks that bolides – extremely bright meteors leftover from that shower – may have been responsible for the display. ?These fireballs or bolides are in fact extremely common,? Neal says, ?but most of them occur over the oceans, and many occur during daylight hours and so are not usually seen.?

The bolides ?can be isolated phenomena or can occur when the earth?s orbit crosses the orbit of a comet,? according to Neal. ?And it is in fact this latter circumstance which I believe is the cause of the recent unexplained lights and noises in the sky.?

Others suspect military officials are not talking about the aircraft they were flying that night. ?A friend of mine down the road, he saw it. It was a KC135 cargo jet,? says Arthur Gagne. ?He said it went right over the trees.?

The jet may have been revving its engines as it prepared to land, Gagne says. And he suspects the military would not be likely admit they had some massive aircraft flying so low.

Maurice Gauthier used to work on F-106 jet fighters in the U.S. Air Force. On the night of the lights, he says, several fighters flew over Sabattus, headed toward Greene.?If they?re in stealth mode, they probably didn?t even show up on the radar,? Gauthier says. He described a maneuver in which the jet engine?s thrust and an after burner propels the craft at amazing speeds, with fire blazing from the rear of the plane. ?You get a rumble, and it lights up quite a bit,? says Gauthier.

He agrees with Gagne that military officials might not admit they had jets in the area even though they were asked about it. Military officials in Maine say they had no aircraft in the area at the time of the reports.

A report from Chris Jordan, who lives in a remote area, backs up Gauthier?s account. He says his house was shaken. When he went outside, he saw two fighter jets flying side by side. ?They were humming right along,? Jordan says. ?They turned, they crossed paths and then they flew off in different directions.?

Stephanie Kelley-Romano, a professor at Bates College in Lewiston, interviewed people who claim to have been abducted by aliens and is teaching a course on the subject. She believes there is something to reports of extraterrestrial craft visiting the planet and says, ?It?s always worth keeping an open mind.? But she is not convinced that what dozens of people saw was necessarily a visitor from another world. ?What was reported doesn?t necessarily appear to be the result of something intelligent. It didn?t have deliberate movement,? she says. ?What would excite me is a light that will go left or right and then back again.?

Karen Keneborus? daughter was outside Friday looking for meteor fragments, or anything that might be left behind by whatever caused the sensation. Keneborus doesn?t discount the alien theory but thinks there?s probably a simpler explanation. ?Well, you know that?s always a possibility. I?m open minded,? she said. ?But if I had to pick a side of that fence, I?d say it was something other than extraterrestrial. Either way, the people who heard it will never forget it. There?s no closure.?

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