Unidentified lights caused by space junk

March 31, 2009 5:23:18 AM PDT
A federal official says space junk from a Russian rocket most likely caused residents across the Southeast to report "great balls of fire" in the night sky.

Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory, which provides a wide range of astronomical data, said Monday the brilliant, streaking lights were either space junk or a super bright meteor known as a bolide.

He says the path for the rocket's debris was over Virginia on Sunday night. That's when residents Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina reported the sky lighting up in shades of yellow, white, orange and blue. A thunderous sound also was reported.

National Weather Service officials say they don't have an explanation for the unusual sky. Chester says the debris probably landed hundreds of miles offshore.

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