An object described as a bright fireball with lights streaming behind it lit up the skies over parts of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama at about 1:30 a.m. ET on Sunday. The fireball lasted only a few minutes before it disappeared, according to witnesses.
WSBTV reports that many residents made phone calls to local stations while others posted photos and videos of the bright object falling to Earth on social media.
According to a witness from McDonough, Georgia, the object, which had “bright colors with a long following of bright colors,” flashed through the night sky briefly.
Another witness, Stacey Alexander, 39, told ABC News she saw the bright light moving across the night sky over Rome, Georgia for about a minute. She said at first she thought it was a plane that had caught fire and was plunging to Earth.
“I honestly thought it was a plane that had caught on fire and was about to crash. It looked like it just kept getting closer to the ground and was on its way to crashing when it disappeared.”
NASA says the mysterious object that lit up the night sky over many parts of the southeast was space junk re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
According to NASA, the debris, travelling at about 14,500 miles per hour, were tracked by five of the agency’s meteor cameras in the southeast, including one at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville.
ABC News reports that William Cooke, with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, said officials received more than 120 witness reports. He said the object was too slow to be a meteor, and it was more likely the re-entry of space junk.
“… 14,500 miles per hour is pretty fast, but it’s too slow to be a meteor. It was possibly reentry of space junk.”
Cooke said that objects classified as meteor typically move at 20,000 miles per hour or faster.
According to David Dundee of the Tellus science Museum, fireballs in the sky are fairly regular events.
“Every once in a while the earth runs into these objects as we’re moving around the sun. On the average I see two or three reports every month of a bright, really bright fireball.”
But some conspiracy theorists claim that NASA was trying to conceal an alien UFO visitation. Scott Waring, editor of UFO Sightings Daily, believes it was probably a UFO returning from space to a remote base in the ocean.
“The news is trying to say this is space junk, but if it was NASA would know what it was and would have predicted its entry into our atmosphere by now. This however was very slow and passing through our atmosphere as if traveling to some out of the way location… perhaps the ocean, where it’s base is located.”
“Space junk burns up fast, this object moves slowly and continued to be seen over four states, maybe more! So no… not space junk. It’s a UFO.”