Saturday 28 May 2022
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Meteor shower or Chinese rocket in Maharashtra sky?

Many described it as a 'meteor shower', but an astronomer thought it was actually the 're-entry of a Chinese rocket stage' that had been launched last year

A blazing streak of light piercing through the night sky was seen in several districts of Maharashtra and the unusual event was captured by people on their phones and shared on social media.

While many people described the sighting as a “meteor shower,” astronomer Jonathan McDowell speculated that the celestial event seen over Maharashtra was actually the “re-entry of a Chinese rocket stage” that was launched in February 2021.

A resident of Buldhana of Maharashtra said that the streak of light was seen by several people in the district.

Suresh Chopade, president of Skywatch group, Nagpur, said a rare event was observed by several people in Maharashtra in the evening and they shared its videos and pictures.

Chopade said he had been observing space-related events for the past 25 years and it seems like the event was related to a satellite.

“It seems like a satellite of some nation might have fallen accidentally or may have been caused to fall intentionally. It does not seem like a meteor shower or fireball,” he said.

He said it could be parts of a meteorite but the colours indicated that “a metallic thing” has accompanied it while coming towards earth.

Jonathan McDowell, who is an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics and comments on space launches, referred to the event in a tweet.

“I believe this is the reentry of a Chinese rocket stage, the third stage of the Chang Zheng 3B serial number Y77 which was launched in Feb 2021 – it was expected to reenter in the next hour or so and the track is a good match,” he said.

Shashank Gattewar, who lives in Manish Nagar, Nagpur, shot the scene with his mobile. He said he suddenly saw some light in the sky, “where one after the other several spheres” were coming in the direction of the from the sky.

Another person said that they saw the blaze for two minutes and later the light disappeared. “We saw these balls going towards Aurangabad,” he said.

The Tehsildar of Yeola, Pramod Hile, said an “ulkapat” (meteorite) was visible in the sky at around 8 pm.

“I saw it myself. It was split into four parts. No damage has been caused and there is nothing to fear,” he said.

Many people shared the visuals of the meteor shower on Twitter.

Posting a video, one person wrote, “#Comet shower seen in the western region of India. This was drop-dead gorgeous. @NASA @isro @neiltyson #Nagpur #Amravati #Dhule #Akola.”

Another person shared, “#meteor #meteorshower 7:46 PM 2 April 2022 Above Nagpur, Maharashtra.”

“Meteorite seen disintegrating over Nagpur. #ISRO #NASA #Nagpur #India #TrendingNow.”

“Something unusual spotted this evening at Kalmeshwar, Does anyone have an idea? #ISRO #NASA #InternationalSpaceStation #Nagpur #India #universe #IPL @MayurGarode @isro.”

A meteor shower is a celestial event during which several meteors are seen to radiate or originate, from one point in the night sky.

These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering ’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories.

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