What some thought was a possible meteor seen flying over several southeastern states was actually a re-entering piece of space junk, according to Bill Cooke at the NASA Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, AL.
Cooke says the object moved too slow to be a meteor.
The sighting, and what some referred to as a "fireball," happened just before 1:30 a.m. Monday.
Kathleen Bergen with the FAA told our sister station in Alabama, WBRC, they received numerous reports about the fireball. They investigated it as a possible plane crash at first.
After viewers requested answers about what was seen, we contacted Cooke.
"There was a bright event seen over several SE states around 12:29:30 AM CDT - We also picked it up on our meteor cameras," he said. "The object moved too slow for meteor (only 14,500 mph), was visible for over 30 seconds, and fragmented into multiple pieces, suggesting that it was possibly a re-entering piece of space junk. The Department of Defense keeps track of such critters, so they would be the ones to confirm this."
Viewer Shakena Sadler told WBTV she was with friends on an outside patio and a hush fell over the group as the object passed through the sky. "Everybody just got quiet and watched it, it lasted for like 30 seconds," Sadler said.
Sadler jokingly said it unnerved her and she considered for a moment if "something was coming to get us".