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A comet or rocket debris? Mysterious lights fly across the Pacific Northwest sky

Onlookers and experts took to social media to share their videos and reactions to the rare event

SHARE A comet or rocket debris? Mysterious lights fly across the Pacific Northwest sky
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This photo posted on Instagram on March 26, 2021, shows the trail of debris that flew across the sky in the Pacific Northwest on March 25.

Instagram screenshot, Nate Schwartz

A few fortunate residents of the Pacific Northwest caught a rare glimpse of a mysterious light show that illuminated the night sky on Thursday around 10 p.m. MT, the New York Post reports.

Though the video below labels the event as a fallen meteor, experts believe onlookers were witnessing the remains of a SpaceX rocket reentering earth’s atmosphere.

The Verge reports that SpaceX is yet to claim responsibility for the spectacle, though several meteorologists and astronomers identified the lights through its shape and speed.

“The relatively slow speed of breakup looks to me to probably be a satellite, rocket part, space junk, something like that breaking up on reentry. Something that was in earth orbit,” Seattle meteorologist Morgan Palmer tweeted on Thursday night.

He added, “Meteors would generally be moving much faster as they burn up. But we’ll see!”

The Seattle office for the National Weather Service confirmed Palmer’s suspicions with a tweet that was published about a half hour later.

“While we await further confirmation on the details, here’s the unofficial information we have so far,” the message stated. “The widely reported bright objects in the sky were the debris from a Falcon 9 rocket 2nd stage that did not successfully have a deorbit burn” (via CBS News).

In an interview with NBC News, Dr. James Davenport, a research assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Washington, said, “We got a really good show tonight, I think, thanks to SpaceX.”

AP News reports that no damage or ground impact has been recorded so far.