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Space Junk Showcased Amazing Pyrotechnics Throughout Night Sky in Utah

First Posted: Jul 29, 2016 05:56 AM EDT
Space Junk
Space debris, junk, waste, trash, or litter is the collection of defunct man-made objects in space. David.Shikomba / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Space junk was seen by the locals in Utah. On Wednesday evening, people captured a mysterious light blazing through the night sky in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Many observers during the event captured the mysterious light and posted on Twitter. The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, Utah confirmed it was space junk that was burning as it entered Earth's atmosphere. The space junk that flew over Wasatch Front around 10 p.m. was known as a Chinese rocket booster.

Based on a statement released by NASA, the space junk was part of Chinese rocket that launched from China's latest Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island on June 25, 2016. Astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Jonathan McDowell, identified the space junk as part of the "Long March",Space reported. It was part of the second stage from the Chinese rocket that was launched last month.

Seth Jarvis, Clark Planetarium Director, said that the space junk may have came into sight closer to Earth over Utah and Nevada. The object began burning approximately 50 miles up from the atmosphere. The space junk was not reported to have landed in Utah or any part of the United States. The broken Chinese rocket booster was seen throughout western U.S.

The public safety dispatchers received many calls that night regarding the space junk. They have said that observers throughout northern and southern Utah, Washington and Carbon counties have made numerous calls, Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Jarvis stated that the occurrence of space junk re-entering earth and burning in the atmosphere is fairly common. However, only few witness such pyrotechnics since it usually occurs in unpopulated or remote areas. Space junk is commonly seen in outer space and re-orbits Earth most of the time. It just so happened that the space junk travelled over a populated area where people can witness it.

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