Last updated at 1:19 PM on 30th January 2012
A baffled homeowner could not believe his eyes when jelly-like blue balls began falling from the sky outside his house.
Steve Hornsby, 61, was forced to run for cover when the freak weather hit his neighbourhood in Bournemouth, Dorset.
He said the sky turned a strange shade of dark yellow and a hailstorm began pelting down on his garden.
It was only after the downpour that he noticed the silicone-like balls on his lawn and went outside for a closer look.
The aircraft engineer scooped up some of the mysterious, slippery globes in a jar and hopes to have them analysed to work out the puzzle.
He believes that about 20 of the marble-sized objects landed in his garden last Thursday. While most were broken, some remained intact.
‘I was just about to pop into the garage to get some logs for the fire when the sky went very dark and then a strange yellow colour,’ he said.
‘There was then a short, sharp hailstorm that lasted for about 20 seconds.
‘I rushed to stand by the wall out of the way and it was all over very quickly. I had seen the hail come down and it looked like rock salt.
‘Then I spotted something on the lawn and it looked like broken glass – I thought it must be the kids.
‘But then I put my foot on it and it disappeared… I thought it was strange. Then I looked around and there were lots of others.
‘They were definitely not there before the storm. They are circular and must have broken on impact.
‘They were almost impossible to pick up, they were very jelly-like. I had to get a spoon and flick them into a jam jar. They had an exterior shell with a soft inside.’
Mr Hornsby suspects they are some sort of pollution in the atmosphere that blew across from the continent.
A scientist at his local university suggested they may be eggs taken from the sea by a bird, which then dropped them over Steve’s house in the hailstorm.
But this is thought to be unlikely as they are transparent and there are no signs of eggs or an embryo inside.
Mr Hornsby, who made the discovery with his equally bewildered wife Carol, added: ‘They only landed in our garden in an area of a couple of hundred square-metres. I’ve checked the neighbours’ gardens.
‘It is the most peculiar thing I have ever seen – there must be about 20 complete spheres.
‘They don’t smell and they don’t float. I’ve been an aircraft engineer for many years and I’ve never seen anything like it.
‘I thought it could have been some kind of atmospheric pollution like a chemical that has been released into the atmosphere, got sucked into a storm cloud and solidified and then released in droplets with the hailstones.
‘The winds that day were blowing from the east. Ideally I’d like to get them chemically analysed to find out what they consist of.’
He said that the balls did not dissolve in water and he has been keeping them in his fridge while he tries to figure out what they were.
The Met Office said the jelly-like substance was ‘not meteorological’.
Josie Pegg, a science research assistant at Bournemouth University, speculated that the strange phenomena might be ‘marine invertebrate eggs’.
She said: ‘These have been implicated in previous “strange goo” incidents.
‘The transmission of eggs on birds’ feet is well documented and I guess if a bird was caught out in a storm this could be the cause.’
Gavin Pretor-Pinney from the Cloud Appreciation Society said: ‘The most likely explanation is that these things were sucked up by a water-spout.
‘Because there was hail, we know they must have come from a cumulonimbus cloud, which have violent rising and falling currents.
‘The air rushing up can cause small tornadoes that can suck up things from the sea or land and they can stay in the cloud for some time until they are dropped.’