'Mystery Lights' That Shot Across California Sky Finally Identified

By iHeartRadio

April 5, 2024

Comet West Near The Sun
Photo: Hulton Archive

The mystery of the bright lights that streaked across the Southern California skies earlier this week has been solved. According to KTLA, the lights, which were seen in areas including Anaheim, San Bernardino, Ontario, Boyle Heights, Burbank, Ventura, and Santa Barbara County, were not meteors or debris from a SpaceX launch, as some had speculated. Instead, they were pieces of a Chinese spacecraft reentering the Earth's atmosphere.

The lights began appearing shortly before 2 a.m. and caused quite a stir, with videos of the spectacle popping up on social media. Many people called KTLA, reporting what they thought were meteors or debris falling from the sky.

However, a spokesperson for The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded non-profit that conducts space research, clarified the situation. "Based on tracking data from the USSF 18th Space Defense Squadron, our analysis suggests that the object seen reentering over Los Angeles the morning of April 2 was the orbital module from the November 2022 Chinese Shenzhou-15 launch to their space station," they said.

The module weighed approximately 1,500 kg, which is large enough to create visible debris as it reentered the Earth's atmosphere. The timing and location of where the debris was spotted align with the data collected by The Aerospace Corporation.

So, in case you were wondering, the answer is: space junk! Experts estimate that there are currently about 170 million pieces of space debris flying around near Earth. The Aerospace Corporation has updated their website for those interested in tracking what's happening in the sky.

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