Mysterious Flashes of Light in the Sky Make California Residents Excited
Sacramento, California —
Visitors to the Saint Patrick’s Day celebration were surprised by the appearance of mysterious lines of light in the sky in the Sacramento area on Friday (17/3) night. They then sent a video of the shocking sighting to various social media.
Jaime Hernandez was at King Cong Brewing Company in Sacramento for a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration when a number of guests noticed the lights. Hernandez quickly captured the light shining around for 40 seconds.
“We were shocked, but also amazed, to witness the light,” Henandez said by email, as quoted by the Associated Press.
“We have never witnessed such a light.”
The brewery owner then posted a video of Hernandez to his Instagram account and asked if anyone could pinpoint the source of the mysterious light.
That question got a response from astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In an interview with the Associated Press on Saturday (18/3), McDowell was 99 percent sure that the streaks of light were the burnt remains of a space object.
McDowell said the light was coming from Japanese communications equipment that was transmitting information from the International Space Station to a communications satellite and then back to Earth. That equipment became obsolete when the satellites were retired in 2017.
According to McDowell, the 310 kilograms of equipment was removed from the space station in 20202 because it was taking up space and would have completely burned up upon reentry to Earth.
The burning bits created a “spectacular light show in the sky,” said McDowell. He estimated the burning debris was 40 miles high and hurtling at thousands of miles per hour.
The US Space Force confirmed the Interorbital Communications System’s path back to Earth over California and the timing is consistent with the light that citizens see in the sky. The Space Force could not be reached on Saturday (18/3) with further questions. [ft/ah]