Partiers in Miami caught a heck of a video.
Fire in the Sky
Floridians on early Thursday morning were stunned by an epic display of what appeared to be fireballs streaking across the night sky.
The American Meteor Society received 18 reports from different eyewitnesses, almost all within Florida.
"It appeared to me that it was something breaking up in our atmosphere," one witness reported, noting that there were small dots leading the "elongated orange streaks."
Another reported a "rushing sound like a blasting through wind or a rocket."
Partygoers in Miami, though, probably got the best look — and the video they captured is an absolute must-see, in which lines of fire can be seen eerily soaring overhead in an awe-inspiring procession.
Though clearly burning up in the atmosphere, the AMS says the object "was not a fireball" — which in its parlance, refers specifically to a luminous meteor.
Instead, it looks like it's actually the remains of a recently deployed Chinese rocket falling through the atmosphere and getting incinerated upon reentry.
The Chinese rocket was a KZ-1A designed to launch and deploy satellites, and took off only the day before the sightings — so clearly it's a pretty strong candidate.
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who frequently monitors space launches, tweeted that the fourth stage of the rocket "made a post-deployment burn to lower perigee to only 114 km, leading to an (uncontrolled) reentry over Florida only a day later."
In other words, the expendable rocket deployed at a fairly low altitude and failed to push itself far enough away from Earth's orbit, resulting in its fiery reentry to our atmosphere.
Fireballs over SWFL!
We've received a number of reports and videos of multiple fireballs in the sky over SWFL this morning just before 5AM. This video is from Fort Myers sent in by viewer Jeffery Berry.#Meteorite #Florida #fireball #UFO pic.twitter.com/GM1pVmRUie
— Jim Dickey (@WxDickey) March 23, 2023
The China National Space Administration — roughly the equivalent of NASA — has caught a lot of flak over the years for the seemingly careless scattering of junk from its rockets.
Last November, both NASA and the European Space Agency criticized China for its reliance on multistage rockets whose discarded parts frequently make uncontrolled reentries as potentially dangerous falling space debris.
Still, as reckless as the practice may be, the odds of the junk actually landing on someone is pretty low — and in this case, the small KZ-1A rocket probably burned up entirely before ever touching down.
More on stuff in sky: Jettisoned From Space Station, Burning Space Junk Streaks Across California Sky