GLOWING orange lights filmed above the Southampton night sky were Chinese lanterns not flying saucers, it has emerged.

A family spotted the UFO activity and recorded the glowing lights moving slowly over the Thornhill estate.

The video on the Daily Echo website attracted huge interest from readers and was featured in yesterday's Echo, pictured right.

But Michael Gibbons, 65, today revealed the strange lights were flying lanterns released at his party, held to mark the renovation of his house.

"Somebody got them off the Internet, brought them to the party and let them go. There were about ten of them," he said. "You can see them for miles.

"I was quite amazed when I read the story in the Echo.

"I'd never seen them before but there are really effective to look at.

"They must have been three miles away and you could still see them.

"If I didn't know what they were I would have thought the same."

The lanterns were released in Chaucer Road on Saturday, half a mile away from where they were filmed in Holcroft Road.

Flying lanterns are a traditional Chinese communication tool dating back thousands of years.

They were invented in the third century for use a military signals.

Today they are a popular feature at festivals, particularly the full moon festival in Taiwan.

Many now see them as an alternative to fireworks.

A spokesman for the lantern company said: "We've heard of many UFO sightings which have turned out to been flying lanterns. The UFO Society has followed this with interest."

He said the flying lanterns were becoming very popular at weddings, funerals and parties.