Fireballs in the Japanese sky: possibly debris from a Chinese rocket
Steph Deschamps / May 12, 2023
Flaming streaks of light seen in the night sky of southern Japan may have been caused by debris from a Chinese rocket, Japanese authorities said Thursday.
A video showing what looked like fireballs circulated on social networks Wednesday night, with residents and Internet users speculating on the reasons for this atypical spectacle.
The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) branch in Ishigaki, in the Okinawa archipelago, reported observing streaks of light at 8:33 p.m. Wednesday, an official told AFP.
"From the information available, we believe that (these) objects are not fireballs from meteorites, but debris from a rocket," said this NAOJ headquarters official who requested anonymity.
"The slow speed and the way the light moved, with threads of light moving in parallel, looks exactly like debris from a rocket entering the atmosphere," he added.
"It is possible that it is debris from a rocket launched by China in November," the official estimated.
"Information indicates that part of the rocket was expected to re-enter the atmosphere" at about the same time. The debris probably fell into the ocean and is not dangerous, he continued, citing predictions of the trajectory it would have taken.
It was beautiful, it looked like a cherry blossom tree crying," wrote one Twitter user.