A MYSTERIOUS ‘ball of orange flame’ has been seen hovering above Weymouth.

The strange object was spotted high above Westham last Friday evening by sisters Cheryl Ashwood and Stacey Follan.

They describe seeing a perfectly spherical object, that looked like it was on fire, which moved slowly from Lanehouse towards Portland.

Cheryl, 27, of Dowman Place, said: “It sounds ridiculous but it was a complete sphere of flames – literally like a fireball.

“It rose up to about the height of a light aircraft and moved off towards Portland.

“It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen and I’m sure it must sound silly but it was fascinating.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Stacey Follan, 14, said: “It was an orange, completely circular ball of flame.

“It was a surprise to see it and I have got no idea what it was.”

Stacey’s mum, Sue Follan, said: “By the time I got to the window it was moving away, but I saw something like a ball of flame - it’s the only way I can think to describe it.

“It was beginning to move off quite slowly into the distance by the time I saw it.”

The chairman of Weymouth Astronomy Club, Sheri Barrington, said the club has received another report from eye-witnesses claiming to have seen the object.

She said: “The club will be holding a meeting to discuss these sightings and reports of them.

“It is the right time of year for the Quadrantid meteor shower, which can usually be seen in the early morning and early evening, because of the way the Earth moves through the meteors’ debris cloud.”

UFO researcher David Kingston, of Fairclose, Weymouth, said: “There’s been lots of reports of UFO sightings lately in the area.

“You have to watch out very carefully when you have a sighting because there is often a possible, natural explanation.

“One of those explanations at the moment is a tool bag that was dropped by an astronaut working at a space station and is now coming back into orbit and burning up.

“It’s possible that some recent sightings are particles from that.

“That would be one logical explanation for some UFO sightings at the moment and another would be meteor showers.”

Mr Kingston said other possible explanations included weather phenomena, flares and space junk – ‘of which there’s more and more these days,’ he says.

He added: “There was another sighting at Uplyme near Lyme Regis towards the end of last year.

“There have been quite a few reports of sightings over the years above the Ridgeway between Weymouth and Dorchester and above the A35.

“But there are also a lot of people who don’t like to report these things because they think they’re going to be laughed at.”

Mr Kingston, a retired intelligence officer for the RAF, originally moved to the Dorchester area in 1981 and took an interest in local UFO sightings in 1988.

He estimates he has investigated up to 40 sightings in South Dorset over the years, some of which were reported to him directly by police officers and a vicar.

He says around half the cases have remained inexplicable.

A spokesman for Portland coastguard said they received no reports of objects in the sky on the night in question.

MoD press officer Hannah Fletcher said there have been no reports of UFOs above Weymouth recently.

She added: “The MoD examines reports solely to establish whether UK airspace may have been compromised by hostile or unauthorised military activity.

“Unless there is evidence of a potential threat, there is no attempt to identify the nature of each sighting reported.”