Friday, June 14, 1996, resulted in the hottest day of the year in Galicia (North-Western region of Spain). A temperature of C was recorded in Santiago de Compostela the Galicia capital. Because of this many people were in streets, parks, or country houses taking fresh air at late hours. Sky was completely clear (almost New Moon) and both the day and night were of an authentic summertime in spite of not yet being astronomically related to this season of the year. There were almost perfect conditions to see the night sky in its entire splendor.
A bit before the local midnight at UTC, an enormous and extremely bright object crossed the sky astonishing and even preoccupying a lot of people who chanced to see the event. A long trajectory and a long time interval during which the object could be seen on the clear sky added more amazement and curiosity. A journalist of a regional newspaper reported that some people in a small village Cacheiras (a suburb of Santiago) being at these late hours near a swimming-pool of their country house have seen an extremely bright light that illuminated the ground all the place round. This was the reason that from its very beginning the event became known publicly as "Cacheiras' UFO". In view of mass-media insistency, and anxious to learn more about the nature of the phenomenon the Astronomical Observatory of the University claimed that much more witnesses (including those from relatively remote locations) and a very careful investigation of the phenomenon had to be carried out in order to determine its properties and the location of the possible impact site.
The collaboration with mass-media (usually interested in "UFO cases") acted like a trigger, and was decisive for obtaining our observational data. We received more than a hundred calls at the Astronomical Observatory "Ramon Maria Aller" during just the first day after the news was released. Among these witnesses there were not only inhabitants of Santiago and its outskirts, but in some cases also people living more than 100 km away from Santiago. All witnesses described the phenomenon as something they never had seen before. They saw a huge fireball ( half of the Moon size) with a striking tail of different colors changing during the flight. It had a tube shape being as bright as full Moon (or even brighter) with a little inclined trail and with angular velocity slow enough to be well observed during many seconds of the flight. However, the most valuable and objective information has been provided by a unique video tape casually recorded during the last 7.6 s of the bright event.
Copyright The European Southern Observatory (ESO)