Did ET stay home, then?
By MARK NICHOLLS
By MARK NICHOLLS
While the low red lights that illuminated the pathway between the lecture hall and the observatory may have seemed like an impromptu landing strip for a UFO, there was no sign of an imminent arrival of little green men at Seething over the weekend.
The debate over whether there are other life forms in the solar system and the greater universe was the subject of lectures at Seething Observatory.
Organised by Norwich Astronomical Society, more than 50 people turned up on both Friday and Saturday nights to hear a lecture by society chairman Mark Lawrik-Thompson called "Life on Earth and beyond" and posing the question: "UFOs and aliens - real or not?"
Mr Lawrik-Thompson explained there was every probability that other life forms exist in the universe, given the size and scale of space and the fact there may be other planets similar to Earth circling stars in distant galaxies.
He explored the possibility of there being life on Mars and on moons that orbit the great planets of Saturn and Jupiter.
"Given the scale of the universe, the chances are that there is life out there. Whether it is intelligent or not is a different matter," he said.
The universe is 13 billion years old and infinite in size, so is it really too much to imagine that we are not the only civilisation that has evolved? he asked.
He said that for the past few years Norfolk had been at the centre of a number of UFO sightings. After investigation however, it turned out that 95pc of these sightings could be explained quite rationally, often as common phenomena in the sky.
And he added: "I do not know many astronomers who have seen UFOs, because they know what they are looking at in the sky."
As evidence that primitive life may exist elsewhere, Mr Lawrik-Thompson pointed to examples on Earth of life forms existing in difficult conditions, such as thousands of feet below the surface of the oceans.
He said the lecture, attended by regular club supporters and visitors, was meant to be a look at the science and the search for life in the solar system and the universe.
It also looked at probes being sent into space and a new generation of space telescopes.
Visitors to the event also had the chance to look through the society's telescopes for views of Mars, the Moon and Saturn.
Mr Lawrik-Thompson concluded: "If there is life out there, it is going to be very, very primitive."
So, it seems, the UFO landing strip at Seething Observatory is not likely to be called into operation in the near future.
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