People across the southwest U.S. rushed to film several astonishingly bright lights streaking across the sky Wednesday night.
A series of videos uploaded to Twitter show what appear to be two massive fireballs soaring down to Earth, leading to widespread speculation about their origin.
Most of the reports appeared to come from Las Vegas. Others reports came from as far away as Reno, Nevada, and Northern California, according to Fox5 Las Vegas.
The captivating display was later identified as the remnants of a Chinese rocket, Chang Zheng-7, that was re-entering the atmosphere around 9:45 p.m. Pacific time, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Strategic Command confirmed to The Huffington Post.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told the Los Angeles Times that the rocket launched on June 25. He said it spent about a month in low orbit before re-entering the atmosphere this week at around 18,000 mph.
One particularly clear video of the burning debris was taken just east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California’s Alabama Hills. (The YouTube video plays around the 1-minute mark and has some profanity.)
Officials at the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas had earlier told KTNV that the breathtaking sight was a meteor that was breaking up. A representative from Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport told the station that it likely occurred about 150 miles south of the city around Lake Havasu, Arizona.
The explanation for the stunning sight is likely good news for all those Twitter users who appeared to freak out over it.
Some people suggested that it could be anything from extraterrestrials to a space station falling out of the sky.
See some of their videos and reactions below.