The fireball people saw streaking across the sky in Southern California and Nevada earlier wasn't the Millennium Falcon. According to US Strategic Command spokesperson Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, it was a Russian space debris, particularly the burning body of an SL-4 rocket reentering the atmosphere. A lot of people took to social media to report sightings of the strange fireball in the sky, and they offered a variety of explanations, from asteroid chunks to UFOs and Santa dropping off presents a bit too early. The Strategic Command's Joint Space Operations Center has been keeping an eye out for any debris from the rocket since it blasted off on Monday, so O'Donnell knows what he's talking about. If you wanted it to be a spaceship full of aliens instead, though, then sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
LOTS of reports of fireball over SW US. Clearly space debris re-entering; I'm looking for more info. Video: pic.twitter.com/0hnxswRIUs— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) December 23, 2015
[Image credit: NASA Johnson/Flickr]