The mystery light seen across the skies of Southern California and Nevada on Tuesday night has been resolved. According to U.S. Defense officials, the streaking light was caused by space debris from a Russian rocket.
Many people were puzzled by the bright fireballs they saw in the skies on Tuesday night for approximately ten minutes. People shared video and photo of the mystery light and talked about it in the social media. Some speculated that it was a shooting star or a meteor shower. Others thought it was space debris from a fallen satellite.
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Some experts initially stated that the mystery light was part of the Ursid meteor shower, which was expected to peak on Tuesday night.
UCI astronomy professor Tammy Smecker-Hane said, “Actually, tonight is the peak of a meteor shower called the Ursid meteor shower.”
Scientists at the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA investigated the incident because a significant number of people reported the strange sighting of the bright fireball across the skies before it appeared to break up.
Russian SL-4 rocket body re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere
The U.S. Strategic Command explained that the bright light was caused by a Russian SL-4 rocket body that re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere somewhere above Arizona at around 7:08 pm (MT).
In a statement, Lieutenant Colonel Martin O’ Donnell, spokesman for the U.S. Strategic Command, said, the Joint Space Operation Center had been tracking the rocket body along with 16,000 other objects.
He added that other inquiries regarding the SL-4 rocket space debris should be directed to the Russian Federal Space Agency.
Russia launched that rocket on Monday. It is unknown whether the rocket body survived from its re-entry to the atmosphere or not. If it survived, its location is still unknown, according to the U.S. Strategic Command.
Previous mystery light across San Diego night sky
A mystery light was seen across the San Diego night sky on November 7. According to the U.S. Navy, the streaking light in the sky was caused by an unannounced missile test.
A Trident II (D5) was fired from the Kentucky, a ballistic missile submarine, in the Pacific Test Range of the coast of Southern California. The missile was not armed, and the test was part of a scheduled, on-going system evaluation by the Navy Strategic Systems Programs.