Weather Officials Explain Fireball in Western Sky
Thank the Chinese for this 'space junk'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2016 4:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – A fireball in the sky Wednesday night led to a firestorm online and over the phone lines, CBS Los Angeles reports, with California residents up and down the coast—as well as in Las Vegas and as far away as Utah—reporting the odd celestial phenomenon. The light flashes, captured on home videos that started popping up on social media, were said to have lasted about 30 seconds, and speculation ran the gamut from a meteor—the Delta Aquarid meteor showers are set to peak Thursday and Friday, per KTLA—to a UFO.

The National Weather Service told CBS the strange sightings weren't linked to the weather, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, outside of Lompoc, Calif., said it hadn't had any launches Wednesday evening. But in the early hours Thursday, the NWS' Salt Lake City branch tweeted it was a "piece of 'space junk'" that had caused the temporary hubbub, and KTLA notes a tweet from a Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer suggests it was debris from a Chinese rocket that had launched last month. "Something's re-entering," a man exclaims as the bright lights streak across the sky in a video he uploaded to YouTube. (A dashcam captured a meteor over Maine in May.)