Mysterious streaks of light were spotted in the night sky in California's Sacramento area on Friday. Videos and images of the surprising sight were posted on social media by witnesses, including from St. Patrick's Day revellers at the King Kong Brewing Company in Sacramento.
Taking to Instagram, the official page of King Kong Brewing Company posted a video of the mysterious sighting. "Crazy Fireworks. This flew over the brewery tonight. What do you guys think?" the caption of the post read.
Watch the video below:
According to The Independent, the lights were also seen as far north as Oregon before fizzling out. Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, explained that the lights were in fact space junk burning up as it reentered the Earth's atmosphere.
Taking to Twitter, Mr McDowell said that the debris was in fact an ICS-EF, or an Inter-orbit Communications System - Exposed Facility, Japanese communications package. It had been used to send data between the ISS Kibo module and Mission Control Tsukuba via the Kodama data relay satellite, he explained.
This is ICS-EF, a Japanese communications package for sending data between the ISS Kibo module and Mission Control Tsukuba via the Kodama data relay satellite. It was launched to the ISS on the Space Shuttle in 2009 and had a mass of 310 kg. pic.twitter.com/ygzHdmfQc0— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) March 18, 2023
Mr McDowell stated that the equipment was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) by Space Shuttle in 2009. It became a space junk in 2020, orbiting the Earth for three years before reentering the Earth's atmosphere over California on Friday night.
According to Mr McDowell, the debris was about 40 miles high, going thousands of miles per hour.The flaming bits of wreckage created a "spectacular light show in the sky," he said.
Separately. the US Space Force also confirmed the re-entry path over California for the Inter-Orbit Communication System.