Fireball in the Western Sky: UFO or Space Junk?

We live in an era of rash opinions and quick suppositions, thanks largely in part to social media. It used to be that if a mysterious event occurred, it was usually explained away long before the majority of people could start speculating on what it was. Mysterious events still filtered out, like the Tunguska event, or rains of frogs, but not to the level we see today (thankfully so, or I’d have very little to blog about). There was no social media, no outlet for every person with an opinion and a smartphone to immediately post their irrational conclusions. For example, this “mysterious” fireball that lit up the Western sky in spectacular fashion on Wednesday night. Of course people immediately started in with the speculation: it was a North Korean rocket; a top-secret military maneuver gone wrong; and of course, “it was a UFO OMG!” Even Zak Bagans, hair product enthusiast and part-time ghost hunter, got in on the sweet Tweet action.

Fireball thought ot be a UFO is just space junk from ChinaLOS ANGELES — People from Sacramento to Los Angeles and Las Vegas reported seeing a mysterious light streaking across the sky Wednesday night.

The flashes of light spurred numerous calls to the CBS Los Angeles newsroom from people around the metropolitan area.

The light was also visible in other states, including Utah, and spurred a flood of reports and video on social media.

Witnesses said the ball of fire in the sky lasted about 30 seconds.

Vandenberg Air Force Base officials also told CBS Los Angeles they didn’t have a launch Wednesday night.

The National Weather Service told the station the incident wasn’t weather-related, and said in a tweet: It was seen here in Las Vegas. Looks like space debris burning up. Not confirmed.”

Finally, the U.S. Strategic Air Command said Thursday the light was caused by Chinese space junk — the remnants of a CZ-7 rocket body — burning up upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

The sightings lit up Twitter:

Huge asteroid shooting star thing entering atmosphere over Vegas. July 27th 2016 9:40 p.m.

— Trevor Kerr (@AdmiralTrevMan) July 28, 2016

@ValleyFireScan got a little video of it right at the end before it disappeared behind the mountains

— ValleyFireScan (@ValleyFireScan) July 28, 2016

Anyone else jus see these huge fireball sparkle things shoot over Vegas. Was crazy lasted 30 seconds.

— Zak Bagans (@Zak_Bagans) July 28, 2016

It comforts me to see that at least some people just assumed it was a meteor or asteroid burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere. The actual explanation? It was a piece of Chinese space junk burning up as it fell out of orbit. But with everything going on in the world today, I don’t blame people for hoping that maybe it was aliens coming to save us. Or destroy us.

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