An unusual phenomenon took place on March 25 when a strange celestial object was spotted in the Pacific Northwest lighting skies from Portland to Seattle.
The strange fireballs burst into dozens of smaller pricks of light as they lit up the sky in parts of Washington and Oregon in the US while the bystanders were left gasping by the rare sight. Social media was flooded with videos of the spectacular phenomenon and many wondered about its origin - if it was a missile test gone wrong or a meteor. Local media reports the set of long streaks of light was seen around 9 pm on Thursday night.
Residents from Seattle took to social media to share clips of the bright object as it broke into smaller pricks of lights with its own tail and similar scenes were reported by the residents of Salem and Portland in Oregon.
Some were left in awe by the incredible scene, others called it ‘creepy’ and asked NASA about it.
DID YOU SEE THIS? I have never in my life seen something so incredible. I am in awe. Just happened over Portland about 10 minutes ago. #LiveOnK2 pic.twitter.com/L9wLEXBrcW— Genevieve Reaume (@GenevieveReaume) March 26, 2021
A resident of Portland captured the sighting on camera.
Similar scenes were reported in Oregon.
As the pictures and videos flooded the social media, so did the mystery behind the object as many tagged astronomers, space experts or NASA on their posts if they could explain the bizarre lightshow.
According to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, it was space debris not a meteor shower. He explained the phenomenon was caused by Falcon 9 rocket second stage debris harmlessly burning up after it failed to de-orbit and now is hurtled back into the atmosphere.
The Falcon 9 second stage from the Mar 4 Starlink launch failed to make a deorbit burn and is now reentering after 22 days in orbit. Its reentry was observed from the Seattle area at about 0400 UTC Mar 26. pic.twitter.com/FQrBrUoBHh— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) March 26, 2021
The rocket was to decelerate and flame out without a show but the plan failed.
“The Falcon 9 second stage from the Mar 4 Starlink launch failed to make a deorbit burn and is now reentering after 22 days in orbit. Its reentry was observed from the Seattle area at about 0400 UTC Mar 26.”
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Seattle also gave the same explanation stressing there are no “expected impacts on the ground in the region at the time.”