A streak of light in the night sky over much of the Pacific Northwest Thursday sparked much speculation among Earthlings. Turns out its origins were apparently very terrestrial: space junk that re-entered the atmosphere.
KOIN-TV, a CBS subsidiary in Portland, Oregon, said, “Was that a meteor? Space junk? Aliens? Probably not. … Whatever it was, it lit up the night sky over Oregon just after 9:00 pm … posts on social media.
The sight was summed up by @kaallori: “Meteor? I don’t know what that was, but it was spectacular. ”
KIRO-TV, a subsidiary of CBS Seattle, said it first appeared to be a meteor shower.
But KIRO chief meteorologist Morgan Palmer said, “The relatively slow rate of disintegration seems to me likely to be a satellite, a rocket component, space debris, something like that that disintegrates upon reentry. Something that was in orbit. Meteors would generally are moving. much faster if they burn up. But we’ll see! “
Viewers called KIRO to share what they saw. They also called the National Weather Service.
Then the Seattle office tweeted the likely statement, saying, “Pending further confirmation of the details, here is the unofficial information we have so far. The many reported bright objects in the sky were the debris of a Falcon 9 rocket 2nd stage that have not successfully had a deorbit burn. “
Astronomer Jonathan McDowell tweeted that it was from one
Jim Todd of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland told KOIN that it was pretty exciting that so many people saw it. “Everyone in the Pacific Northwest got to see it,” he said.
He’s not sure if the debris reached the ground. Could there be debris? Certainly. But it burned. ‘
KIRO reported that weather service officials said they had not heard of any impact in western Washington.