A mysterious streak of light was seen in the Sacramento-area sky Friday night, shocking St. Patrick’s Day festivities and posting a video of the astonishing sight on social media.
Jaime Hernandez was behind the King Combe Brewing Company in Sacramento for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration when some of the group noticed the lights. It was over in about 40 seconds, he said Saturday.
“Mostly, we were shocked, but also surprised to witness it. None of us had ever seen anything like it.”
brewery owner Post Hernandez’s video on Instagramasks if anyone can solve the riddle.
Jonathan McDowell says you can. McDowell is an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday, McDowell said he was 99.9% certain the streak of light was from burning space debris.
McDowell said Japan’s communications package, which relays information from the International Space Station to a communications satellite and then back to Earth, became obsolete in 2017 when the satellite was retired. The device occupies valuable space and was jettisoned from the space station in 2020 as it would completely burn up on re-entry.
McDowell said the burning wreckage created a “spectacular light show in the sky”. McDowell estimated the wreckage to be about 40 miles high and thousands of miles an hour.
The U.S. Space Force has confirmed the inter-orbital communication system’s re-entry path over California, and the timing matches what people saw above, he added. The Space Force was not immediately reachable on Saturday with questions.
McDermott reported from Providence, Rhode Island.