Burning Fireball Lights up Vegas Sky

posted: 12/23/15
by: Danny Clemens

A mysterious ball of light soared over the Las Vegas skyline Tuesday evening, and before you ask -- no, it wasn't the same object the NORAD will be tracking later this week.

In a Facebook post, the United States Strategic Command explains that the flash of light was actually a Russian SL-4 rocket body burning up as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere.

The flaming junk, which first appeared around 6:00 p.m. local time, was visible across parts of Nevada and California. Dazzled stargazers throughout the region took to social media to share their accounts of the unexpected show:

Santa Clause test run? Huge Meteor Just witnessed from the Magical Forest in Las Vegas !

Posted by Rick Mazanec on Tuesday, December 22, 2015

There are more than 21,000 pieces of space debris larger than 4 inches across currently orbiting Earth. As part of its Space-Track.org initiative, the USSC maintains a comprehensive database of 16,000 of these "on-orbit cataloged objects," tracking their movement until they burn up.

Related: Space Junk Goes Out in a Blaze of Glory

"That service is a key element of our commitment to provide space situational awareness for spaceflight safety," the agency explains.

Little can be done about the debris currently in orbit; space agencies around the planet are actively investigating ways to minimize the amount of orbital debris that future missions leave behind.


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