Lazy eyes listen
Strange fireball-like objects were seen flying over Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday night, according to local news reports, with several eyewitnesses taking to social media to share footage of the spectacle.
An NHK reporter obtained video of the objects burning through the sky near Naha City in Japan’s southernmost region at 8:30 p.m. local time. The sighting “surprised” the journalist, who said, “At first, I thought they were fireworks, but I didn’t hear any sound and they moved in a straight line.”
The Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory, located in Ishigaki City on the Okinawa island chain, later reported that it saw a “streak of light” in the sky north of the facility at 8:33 p.m. on Wednesday.
A number of residents filmed the fireballs and shared the footage online, with one video created by the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper compiling a series of clips shared by residents. Some on social media suggested that the lights were fragments of a meteor or shooting stars.
While the objects have yet to be definitively identified, the Ishigakijima observatory offered a plausible explanation, noting that debris from a Chinese rocket launched last November was expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on May 10th. According to the observatory, the space trash will “pass directly over the main island of Okinawa,” or just north of it, according to NHK.
“While fireballs and meteorites are expected to strike the Earth vertically or obliquely, debris from satellites and rockets is orbiting the Earth,” the observatory stated. “It’s possible that [the debris] will look like this because it will slowly plunge in, parallel to the Earth, and burn up over time.”
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is also active this year, lasting from April 15 to May 27. However, the event’s peak has already passed, with about five meteors expected to be visible in the skies over Tokyo last week. It is unknown whether the shower would still be visible from Okinawa at this point.