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Some locals ascribed the nocturnal illuminations to UFOs, while others blamed swarms of fireflies or glow-worms. Some even swore they were caused by luminous vegetation eaten by birds.
Now a scientist has gone and spoiled all the fun, finding a perfectly rational explanation. John Pettigrew, a professor of neuroscience at Queensland University, has discovered that the eerie lights are caused by atmospheric refraction that occurs when cold air is trapped below warmer air – when a cool night follows a hot winter's day, for instance.