What NASA says about fireball that streaked across Michigan sky

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NASA has confirmed that the fireball that streaked across the Midwestern sky early Wednesday was a satellite.

“There are many accounts from the midwestern states of a bright long-lasting fireball seen around 12:43 a.m. EDT last evening … This event was not caused by a natural object; it was produced by the reentry and fragmentation of a satellite over that area of the country,” the agency said in a Facebook post on its NASA Meteor Watch page. 

At least one expert speculated that it was a failed Russian spy satellite.

A Harvard astrophysicist said he is “100% confident” it was, but doubts official confirmation of its origin will come.

Speculation began after the New York-based American Meteor Society received 81 reports of an eruption of green, yellow, red and white lights over the sky from witnesses including in Michigan; Illinois; Indiana; Kentucky; Ohio; and Ontario, Canada. The event was recorded at 12:43 a.m. by the AMS. 

The AMS collects and displays eyewitness accounts of meteors and fireballs and promotes “research activities of both amateur and professional astronomers who are interested in meteoric astronomy,” according to its website.

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Some viewers recorded their sightings on the society’s website, with some commenting that they believed it was a comet and others referring to it as a meteorite or a fireball. 

Though initially reported as a fireball by the AMS, the organization concluded that it was likely “the re-entry of an unknown satellite or spent rocket body.” 

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, claims the object is a Russian spy satellite, Kosmos-2551, that had a failed launch on Sept. 9 and had been orbiting the Earth ever since. 



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