LOS ANGELES — People across the western United States saw mysterious lights streak across the sky late Wednesday night and lit up social media with videos.
— 🧗♂️ Matt Holt (@mholt6) July 28, 2016
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., tweeted that the fireball was debris from a Chinese rocket launched June 25.
Satview, which tracks satellites, estimates the space junk from China’s CZ-7 R/B rocket re-entered the atmosphere early Thursday morning.
The rocket was part of a “technology demonstration mission” launched from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan, China, according to Utah NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins.
Officials at the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City and Nevada were also responding to people on Twitter who had seen the majestic lights Wednesday night.
A spokesman for U.S. Strategic Command told the Times said the agency would not provide details of what might have actually happened until Thursday.
— VintPyper (@VintPyper) July 28, 2016
— G3KByte (@G3KByte) July 28, 2016
Observation reports from Utah indicate the second stage from the first Chang Zheng 7 rocket, launched Jun 25, reentered at 0440 UTC
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) July 28, 2016
— Jeff Sullivan Photo (@JeffSullPhoto) July 28, 2016