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Streak of lights sets off social media buzz, turns out to be SpaceX rocket debris

Residents noticed odd fireballs slowly passing through on Thursday night and took to social media to share it wondering what it was. Experts later linked it to SpaceX's Falcon 9 second stage rocket debris.

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 30, 2021 10:59:56 am
nwp meteor shower, northwest pacific lightshow, Seattle fireball light, falcon 9 debris shower, indian express, viral videosSocial media was left abuzz as more and more people started to share images and videos wondering what is was.

Strange fireballs or shooting stars like objects were seen lighting up the sky in parts of Washington and Oregon in the US, and the rare natural phenomenon took residents by surprise. Soon, videos of the brightly lit objects over Pacific Northwest flooded social media sites.

Many people living in various parts of Seattle took to social media to share clips wondering the slow-moving objects were. Residents in Salem and Portland in Oregon, too, reported spotting similar objects in the sky. According to local reports, the long streak of lights slow-danced over the region around 9 pm on Thursday night.

While most were mesmerised thinking it was a passing meteor, others were worried wondering if something was wrong.

As the buzz continued online, many tagged astronomers and space experts to know if they can explain the lightshow.

Soon, astronomer Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) at the Center for Astrophysics and the National Weather Service (NWS) in Seattle (@NWSSeattle) tweeted that it’s not a meteor shower but space debris. The experts ruled that the phenomenon was caused by Falcon 9 rocket second stage debris that failed to de-orbit and burn up after launch, but got around to it 22 days later.

According to McDowell’s tweets, the rocket was “supposed to immolate itself over the ocean south of Australia, to dispose of it safely”.

As space agencies continue to figure out what the object is, the NWS has stressed that there are no expected impacts on the ground in the region at this time.

The videos got plenty of reactions online, leaving many excited. It also sparked off a discussion on the impact of such debris to Earth’s atmosphere and other natural resources.

SpaceX said on Wednesday that the Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth and landed as planned on its ocean-going barge off the coast of Florida.

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