Science & Technology

Chinese space junk sparks meteor reports

A vivid streak within the sky generated tons of of meteor sighting reports from Southern California to British Columbia, however it didn’t take lengthy for the flash to be traced to the re-entry of a Chinese rocket stage.

The fireball was seen throughout a large swath of the western United States between 9:30 and 10 p.m. PT Wednesday. Greater than a dozen Washington state observers on the east facet of the Cascades filed reports with the American Meteor Society. However Western Washington? Not a lot, in all probability due to sighting angles in addition to sky circumstances.

The fireball’s trajectory matched up with the monitor of a second-stage booster from a Chinese Long March 7 rocket that was launched on Monday. This launch despatched up a number of experiments and satellites, however it additionally served as an preliminary flight check for a car that’s anticipated to ship payloads to China’s current and future space stations.

The U.S. navy’s Joint Space Operations Heart confirmed that the rocket stage fell via the environment and broke up because it handed over California and Nevada, heading eastward.

Trajectory of final evening’s Chinese rocket reentry seen in 4 states. #meteor

— Ron Baalke (@RonBaalke) July 28, 2016

By coincidence, the re-entry befell simply because the Delta Aquarid meteor bathe was nearing its peak. The speed may rise to as excessive as 20 meteors per hour underneath peak viewing circumstances earlier than daybreak on Friday. For extra about seeing the Delta Aquarids, check out Sky & Telescope’s preview.

The Alpha Capricornid meteor bathe is because of attain its peak over the weekend – after which there’s the Perseids, the summer season’s hottest meteor bathe. The Perseids are attributable to attain their peak on the evening of Aug. 12-13, with the moon out of the best way throughout prime time within the wee hours of Aug. 13. For extra about maximizing your meteor viewing expertise, check out our Perseid guide from last year.

When you’re ready for the meteor present, feast your eyes on these views of the Lengthy March fireball, captured by observers throughout the West:

WOW! I simply occurred to be on the proper place w/ my photographer to seize this within the sky over #WJ @KSL5TV

— Nicole Vowell (@NicoleVowellKSL) July 28, 2016

And one other video clip of the Chinese rocket stage reentry, this time of the center part: – plenty of fragmentation.

— Daniel Fischer (@cosmos4u) July 28, 2016

RT MichaelParkerLA: Space junk? #Meteor breakup over CA and Nevada tonight video credit score: Nick Johnson

— Miriama Tangihaere (@MetaMoaPhosis) July 28, 2016

If it wasn’t for #PokemonGo we would not have seen this #meteor falling. Simply left a Pokestop once we observed it.

— Pam (@Zero0oFox) July 28, 2016
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