Late on Wednesday night, some Americans were lucky enough to witness a magnificent light show, as a decaying Chinese rocket plunged through the atmosphere overhead at 18,000 miles per hour.
The rocket was reported as being seen in the skies above California, Nevada and Utah. Overall, witnesses seemed rather nonchalant about the sudden burst of light coming from the sky, gawking at its stunning beauty rather than worrying about the potential hazards.
— Matt Holt (@mholt6) July 28, 2016
U.S. Strategic Command department spokesman, Lt. Colonel Martin L. O’Donnell, said that the rocket posed no threat to residents. The majority of the debris would likely burn up in the sky and what was left over would likely land in the water. No damage has been reported thus far, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It is no rare occurrence to have rockets re-entering the atmosphere but considering how close the flaming debris was to earth — around 50 miles from the ground — it was more visible than usual, remarks Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
What was initially mistaken for the Delta Aquarid meteor shower — which happened to coincide with the spectacle — was identified shortly later as the Chinese Long March 7 rocket.
Pictures and videos of the decaying rocket were posted throughout the night on social media. Check out some of the videos below:
Possibly we’ll get a repeat performance when Tiangong-1 comes hurtling back to Earth in massive fireball.
By Robin WInship