MOUNTAIN HOME, N.C. – What was the unusual slow-moving light in the sky that flew over North Carolina early Monday morning?
WLOS reported that a viewer in Old Fort on the western side of the state sent them a video of the occurrence, which prompted many to wonder.
So what was it? A meteor? A UFO? Experts said the flash of light was actually an old Soviet rocket from the early 1970s. The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute called it “space junk.”
Space junk is generally defined as the collection of defunct objects in orbit around Earth. This can include spent rocket stages, old satellites and fragments from disintegration, erosion and collisions.
The one-ton rocket was expected to enter the earth’s atmosphere during the day Sunday, but made an extra orbit, disintegrating 50-75 miles from the earth’s surface, according to PARI Executive Director Ken Steiner.
Steiner said meteors move much faster than space junk. He said the growing amount of space junk is constantly monitored by the U.S. government, because it can cause problems with satellite operations and the space station.
Steiner said most space junk burns up before it makes it to earth, but some have reached the earth’s surface on occasion. He said a person has a greater chance of getting struck by lightning than being hit by space junk.