A streak of light in the night sky over a large part of the Pacific Northwest Thursday prodded a lot of speculation among earthlings. Turns out its inception was obviously natural: space junk reemerging the environment.
As CBS Portland, Oregon member KOIN-TV put it, “Was that a meteor? Space junk? Aliens? Probably not. … Whatever it was, it lit up the night sky over Oregon just after 9 p.m. … drawing gasps of wonder and many posts to social media.
“The sight was summed up by @kaallori: “Meteor? I don’t know what that was, but it was spectacular.'”
CBS Seattle associate KIRO-TV said it originally seemed, by all accounts, to be a meteor shower.
Yet, KIRO Chief Meteorologist Morgan Palmer said, “The relatively slow speed of breakup looks to me to probably be a satellite, rocket part, space junk, something like that breaking up on reentry. Something that was in Earth orbit. Meteors would generally be moving much faster as they burn up. But we’ll see!”
Andrew Dassonville, @theandrewda, caught it over St. Helens, Oregon, close to Portland.
Watchers called KIRO to report what they were seeing. They likewise called the National Weather Service.
At that point, the service’s Seattle office tweeted the presumable clarification, saying, “While we await further confirmation on the details, here’s the unofficial information we have so far. The widely reported bright objects in the sky were the debris from a Falcon 9 rocket 2nd stage that did not successfully have a deorbit burn.”
Cosmologist Jonathan McDowell tweeted it was from a March 4 SpaceX launch of Starlink satellites.
Jim Todd, of The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland revealed to KOIN it was really energizing that such countless individuals spotted it. “Everyone around the Pacific Northwest got to see it,” he said.
He doesn’t know whether any of the debris made it to the ground. “Could there be debris? Certainly. But it was burning up.”
KIRO detailed that weather service authorities said they hadn’t knew about any effects across western Washington.