SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - People across the western United States saw mysterious lights streak across the sky late Wednesday night and lit up social media with videos.
Utah NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins confirms it is a "rocket body" or "rocket booster" from a Chinese space craft falling toward earth.
Satview tracks satellites and estimates the "space junk" from China's CZ-7 R/B rocket will reenter the atmosphere early Thursday morning.
Callers from Idaho to St. George flooded police dispatch and the FOX13 newsroom phone lines to report a meteor shower, while many online theorized it was something out of a sci-fi movie.
According to Wiggins the Chinese launched the rocket as part of a "technology demonstration mission" from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center located in Wenchang, Hainan, China.
While most of it will burn up upon reentry some pieces could make it to land.
Dozens of viewers sent videos and pictures over Facebook or email. Here are a couple of the best videos from Twitter.
Ian Johnston was sitting out on his porch in Eagle Mountain when he thought he saw a firework shooting across the sky.
“It just sailed right across the sky, exploded and just rained down in a bunch of pieces," Johnston said. "It was pretty intense."
Like many others, he figured it was a meteor shower or perhaps a sign.
Johnston said: “You started questioning, OK, I had a hard time believing in God yesterday: Is this like a metaphor?”
Duke Johnson, education exhibits manager at Clark Planetarium, put those theories to rest. NASA ambassadors confirmed it was actually space junk, remnants from a Chinese CZ-7 Rocket.
“Of course it's just the rocket breaking up as it hits the upper atmosphere, starts to slow down and then heat up,” Johnson said.
Johnson says there’s actually orbital debris from either satellites or rocket stages that are coming in almost on a monthly basis, but people usually don’t get a clear visual like they did last night because it tends to happen in isolated areas.
“Really those things are just fabulous to see because we don't get to see a lot of them, and so people should be thrilled that they got to see it,” Johnson said.
People can check out the Perseids, one of the most popular meteor showers of the year, on August 11th – 13th. Although it won’t hold a candle to what people witnessed Wednesday night.