Officials Say B.C. Light Show Wasn’t A Meteor
Weather officials now say that despite its uncanny meteor-like appearance, the fiery show of light that on Thursday night lit up British Columbia’s night sky, wasn’t a meteor after all. Pacific coast residents late last week shared several photos on social media, all showing an illuminated night sky set on fire by the streak of light.
The shooting light, which could still be faintly detected even early on Friday morning, was described by several onlookers as something not unlike a shooting star. And while the Seattle-based US National Weather service initially declared the unidentified display of light to have looked very similar to a meteor, the service later announced that it has actually been identified as free-falling debris broken loose from a Space X Falcon 9 rocket.
The debris had reportedly failed to burn up in its initial re-entry of earth’s atmosphere and could on Thursday night be seen doing exactly that, explained Aaron Boley, who is an associate professor in astronomy at UBC.
Debris Identified As Falcon 9
Explained Boley, even though the re-entry had been planned and was certainly expected, the burn should not have been visible from Earth. Boley said the event should have occurred over the Pacific Ocean, and not over land, where it became possible for people to witness the re-entry.
Boley furthermore confirmed that the debris as from the Space X Falcon 9 rocket that had been launched into space from Florida early this month, which rocket had been tasked with carrying 60 satellites into the space outside of our atmosphere. Launching satellites into space has become an increasingly more common occurrence in recent years, said the astronomer. The satellites provide coverage for internet and other GPS-based communication and connectivity services, he explained.
Satellites Aren’t Risk-Free
The astronomer also said that as humanity continues to launch more and more digital and communications assets into space, the cost of positioning infrastructure for navigations, the internet, and even high-wire financial transactions, continues to climb higher also. The more infrastructure positioned into Earth’s orbit, the greater the risk of collisions occurring between these assets, said Boley.
The astronomer added that people can expect to see space debris burning up more often from here on out, but that since most of the material from rockets burn up the minute it enters Earth’s atmosphere, people aren’t likely to discover space junk in their yards anytime soon.
Elon Musk’s Space X has not yet commented on Thursday night’s sighting reports.