Many residents of Utah and other parts of western U.S. are asking questions about a fireball seen streaking across the sky overnight on February 23, 2015.
NASA Orbital Debris Program Office released a statement after the incident, saying that the fireball was the reentry of a booster rocket from a Chinese satellite. However, UFOlogists have rejected NASA's claim, saying it was a UFO and that NASA was covering up the truth about an alien visitation.
According to the American Meteor Society (AMS), hundreds of people from the western states reported sightings on the night of February 23 - a fireball or mass of fireballs travelling northwest from the southeast.
AMS said it received reports of sightings from "Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Nevada, California, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Albert and British Columbia on February 24, 2015."
A witness, Diane Haskins, from Noxon in Montana, described the fireballs as a "streak of 30-40 lights" moving from the southeast to the northeast.
"[A] streak of between 30-40 lights that were in a group going from the southeast to the northeast. It appeared that something was breaking apart since all the streaks of light traveled in the same direction. Some of the lights dimmed out as they streaked across the sky."
According to the statement by the group, when space junk enters the atmosphere, it breaks apart into smaller parts -- nuts, bolts, metal parts, glass fragment -- and each part forms a small fireball. The fireballs travel in the same direction, slower than meteors and cover a wider distance.
The AMS report explained that part of the evidence that the sighting was space junk comes from the duration of the event. Most witnesses reported the event as lasting 45 seconds, much longer than about 3-5 seconds for a typical fireball.
However, UFOlogists have raised questions challenging NASA, arguing that the fireball over Utah had clear characteristics of an intelligently directed spacecraft and that contrary to the claim that the mass consisted of small components of broken reentry space junk, it consisted of smaller capsules or pods detached from a larger craft.
An online UFO enthusiast AlienPeace1, dismissed the claim that it was a Chinese rocket. He argued that the object maintained its glow much longer than a typical space junk making a reentry or a meteor.
"Shortly after 11pm on February 23, 2015, many people in Utah, Idaho, Montana and Canada reported seeing a huge sphere of light descend from the sky. Many in the media are claiming this to be 'space junk' from a 'Chinese rocket.' However this explanation makes no sense at all as space junk, like meteors, only glow brightly as they pass through the upper atmosphere. This object maintained its size, shape, and consistent glow for over a minute as it descended to the Earth! This is proof the UFO was generating its own light and was not any sort of meteor or space junk."
According to Scot Waring, editor of UFO Sightings Daily, the fireballs were moving too slowly to be meteor or space junk falling freely under gravitational force to Earth.
"This UFO was moving too slow to be anything but an intelligently made craft. The UFO also has a smaller craft orbiting it. Such UFOs have been seen all over the world, changing colors and hovering in place. UFOs often visit the same places many times over a few years. This is true again. The UFO above matches the UFO seen over Murray, Utah on Oct. 2, 2014."
As Waring notes, many residents of Utah recall a similar incident that occurred in the early hours of October 2, 2014, when a mysterious object lit up the sky of Utah. Although members of the UFO community identified it as a UFO, an astronomer said it was a burning meteor.
According to an eyewitness who gave an account of his experience on UFO Stalker, around 4: 43 a.m., a bright green, white, and blue light with a prominent tail appeared in the clear sky for a few seconds.
Patrick Wiggins, the ambassador of the NASA/JPL solar system to Utah, said at the time that the object colors were evidence that it was a bolide meteor.
However, in response to statements by UFO enthusiasts that the object was silent unlike bolide meteors that normally make a lot of noise like a freight train as they fall, Wiggins said the bolide appeared silent because it was far away.
But it was not clear from Wiggins' explanation why an object that was far away was seen only over Utah and environs.
[Images: YouTube; UFO Sightings Daily]