People across the west coast – both in Canada and over the border – were surprised with a once-in-a-lifetime show in the sky last night, of what appears to have been a SpaceX rocket breaking up.
Thousands took to social media to share what they saw on Thursday night.
Reddit user u/ArcMaster posted this incredible video of meteor/spacejunk tonight, visible across much of Oregon and Washington. The shockwave at final breakup was felt indoors. pic.twitter.com/qoxMWYy61G
— ㄥ卂ᐯ卂 ㄒㄩ乃乇 Ꮆㄖ乃ㄥ丨几 (@NullAdagio) March 26, 2021
According to Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Falcon 9 second stage from the March 4 Starlink launch failed to make a deorbit burn as it entered Earth’s atmosphere.
McDowell said this marks the 14th piece of “space junk” with a mass over one tonne that has reentered since January.
It’s unclear if SpaceX founder Elon Musk caught the light show.
Some fun facts about space debris reentries:
(1) A breakup like the one over Seattle happens at about 60 km (~40 miles) up, far above where airplanes fly (more like 10 km).
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) March 26, 2021
More to come.
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