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What is the sky lantern?

A sky lantern, also known as Kongming lantern or Chinese lantern, is a small hot air balloon made of paper, with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended.
In Asia and elsewhere around the world, sky lanterns have been traditionally made for centuries, to be launched for play or as part of long-established festivities. The name "sky lantern" is a translation of the Chinese name tiān dēng (天燈, 天灯). Sky lanterns have also been referred to as sky candles or fire balloons, however the latter term is also used to refer to balloon munitions used during World War II.
In China and Taiwan, sky lanterns are traditionally made from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame. The source of hot air may be a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material.
The general design is a thin paper shell, which may be from about 30 cm to a couple of metres across, with an opening at the bottom. The opening is usually about 10 to 30 cm wide (even for the largest shells), and is surrounded by a stiff collar that serves to suspend the flame source and to keep it away from the walls.
In Thailand sky lanterns are often traditionally made from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame. They may also be constructed from other lightweight papers. The source of hot air is usually a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material lit and which usually stays lit despite the surrounding air currents. The Thai name is khom loi. Many areas of Asia, however, do not permit sky lanterns because of widespread fire hazards as well as danger to livestock.
In Brazil, Mexico, and possibly other Latin American countries, sky lanterns were traditionally made of several patches of thin translucent paper (locally called "silk paper"), in various bright colors, glued together to make a multicolored polyhedral shell. A design that was fairly common was two pyramids joined by the base (a bipyramid, such as the octahedron) sometimes with a cube or prism inserted in the middle. Only the smaller models had a full frame made of bamboo or thin wire; the slight overpressure of the hot air was sufficient to keep the larger ones inflated, and the frame was reduced to a wire loop around the bottom opening. The "candle" was usually a packet of paraffin or rosin tightly wrapped in cloth and bound with wire.
When lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern, thus lowering its density and causing the lantern to rise into the air. The sky lantern is only airborne for as long as the flame stays alight, after which the lantern sinks back to the ground.