AN OBJECT that was seen plummeting towards the sea over the the Solway Firth yesterday was a marine flare.

The short-lived mystery of what fell into the Irish Sea off the Cumbrian coast yesterday was solved after Maryport Rescue's training manager Gary Hampson contacted the News & Star.

He said: "This was a marine white illumination flare, used in search and rescue to light up an area of interest to search and rescue assets.

"This flare was used yesterday during a training exercise by Maryport Rescue. The team were undertaking some pyrotechnics training as part of an ongoing training programme.

"Both the Coastguard and Cumbria Police was informed of the intended use before the flares were used across the towns harbour."

The training was not mentioned when the News & Star contacted Cumbria Police earlier today. 

The flare was seen over the Solway Firth shortly before 11am yesterday, a brightly glowing object that left a smoke-trail. A video of the object was sent to the News & Star by reader Elspeth Keys.

Cumbria Police confirmed earlier today that they had received a report at 11.20am yesterday of what was believed to be a flare, though at the time there was no confirmation of this. 

The sighting came just days after reports of a 'fireball' meteor which was photographed by Carlisle man Darren Bell, a member of News & Star camera club.

You can read more about that meteor - seen across the north west - by clicking this link.

Genuine meteor sightings are likely to increase in the days ahead thanks to the so-called Eta Aquarid meteor shower - the first of a pair of meteor showers originating from Halley's Comet, one of the most famous cosmic bodies in our solar system.

The peak time for meteors from Eta Aquarids is expected to happen between May 5-6.

The shower produces 'shooting stars' when the Earth passes along Halley Comet's debris stream, creating tiny particles that light up as they burn in the upper atmosphere. You can get more involved in meteor tracking by joining the UK Meteor Network.