Debris from disintegrating rocket streaks across western skies
Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 3:48 - If you live in western Canada and spotted unexplained streaks of light blazing across the sky, don't worry, you weren't hallucinating.
It happened at around 11 p.m. MT, and the American Meteor Society (AMS) notes most reports described the lights as slow-moving and visible for as much as 45 seconds, unlike faster-moving meteor fireballs that last two or three seconds.
Sure enough, NASA told the American Meteor Society it was debris from the body of a Chinese rocket, widely seen across western North America.
"From different sources, it looks like the phenomenon was the re-entry of the stage 3 of a Chinese Rocket. This rocket launched the sateliite Yoagan Weixing 26 on Dec 27, 2014," the AMS says.
More than 145 people reported seeing the lights, including several in B.C. and Alberta.
"I saw the object move from the south-southwest to the north-northwest for another 10 seconds or so after getting outside," said one witness from Calgary, Alta. "The object eventually disappeared behind the horizon but the glowing trail as persistent the entire time. It was the longest event of this kind I've ever witnessed."
Disintegrating satellites or rockets often look like clusters of streaking light due to each component burning up individually upon re-entry. Most burn up before ever reaching the surface, but larger components can, rarely, survive in some form to make landfall.
SOURCE: American Meteor Society
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