At 9:00 pm PT on March 25, the skies of Seattle witnessed bright streaks of light overhead. These lights scattered in fragments and continued to blaze for a few long seconds before speeding away to the sea.
Apparently, those were the remains of a SpaceX rocket that recently sent a batch of Starlink satellites to orbit earlier this month.
SpaceX Rocket: Sightings of this Strange Phenomenon
Many people posted on Twitter the sighting they managed to capture in their camera with numerous photos and videos. According to Forbes, the estimated time of incidence started at 9 PM. People posting photos and videos of the event on Twitter peaked around 10-12 PM.
The tweet from @EbertonPaul capturedwith good resolution the passing of these blazing remains. It could clearly be seen with the naked eye across the mass expanse of Seattle skies. The multiple fireballs slowly broke apart as they head for the Pacific Northwest.
Another tweet from @House_Averell showed that there were multiple fragments with long blazing tails. Not all of them were clustered in the same area, and some even fell behind with a difference in acceleration.
Just saw this over the sky in the Seattle area, anyone else? Looked to pretty and creepy at the same time. They started fading and then disappeared completely. #stars #sky #meteor #seattle #aliens pic.twitter.com/QmBWcAvBB7— Damian Ian Averell (@House_Averell) March 26, 2021
SpaceX Rocket Incident Explained
A Harvard astronomer provided an answer to this strange phenomenon.
Jonathan McDowell explained that these were the remains of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket was launched to space on March 4 to deliver 60 Starlink Satellites to orbit. The rocket had unfortunately reentered our atmosphere in pieces.
He said the rocket "failed to make a deorbit burn and is now reentering after 22 days in orbit. Its reentry was observed from the Seattle area at about 0400 UTC Mar 26." McDowell also tweeted that the rocket was "supposed to immolate itself over the ocean south of Australia, to dispose of it safely."
The Falcon 9 second stage from the Mar 4 Starlink launch failed to make a deorbit burn and is now reentering after 22 days in orbit. Its reentry was observed from the Seattle area at about 0400 UTC Mar 26. pic.twitter.com/FQrBrUoBHh— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) March 26, 2021
Not Meteors or Aliens
National Weather Service also released their statement regarding the incident:
"Based on the observed video, this looks more likely than a bolide meteor or similar object as they would be moving far faster on impact with our atmosphere. There are NO expected impacts on the ground in our region at this time."
Based on the observed video, this looks more likely than a bolide meteor or similar object as they would be moving far faster on impact with our atmosphere. There are NO expected impacts on the ground in our region at this time. More info will be posted as it becomes available.— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) March 26, 2021
The timeline of the events lines up with these facts and the natural phenomenon that explains the science behind the burning debris. The professionals confirmed that the phenomenon is not a catastrophic event of falling meteors. At the time of writing, SpaceX has not released an official statement or comment about the event.
A tweet from @AmyAHarder gave the topic an exciting conclusion. The information of SpaceX debris flying over Seattle was announced and resolved in minutes, thanks to the cooperation and contributions of people in the age of technology.
The fact the Internet (thanks @planet4589) could solve this space mystery (@SpaceX vehicle) in 16 minutes, and the @ever_given ship is still stuck in the Suez Canal going on three days says a lot about our world today, but I’m not exactly sure what. pic.twitter.com/cs2m8xnDOa— Amy Harder (@AmyAHarder) March 26, 2021