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Watch | ‘Was it a meteor?’ – Bright lights spotted in Mzansi’s night sky

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Dec 12, 2021

There was palpable excitement across several regions of South Africa on Saturday night, after a stunning trail of bright lights was spotted high above the atmosphere. However, experts doubt this was a meteor.

KZN, Gauteng, North West witness ‘shooting star-like event’

Stargazers were treated to a rare sight, when objects that appeared to resemble shooting stars travelled across the pitch-black night sky. Many observers commented on the stunning visuals they had witnessed.

Others also believed this was part of the Geminids Meteor Shower – one of the biggest events in the celestial calendar. Meteors from this particular cluster are amongst the most visible to us here on Earth.

As more South Africans craned their necks skywards, many reached for their cellphones to take videos. Although this footage perhaps doesn’t do the spectacular sight too much justice, it’s still worth a look.

Watch: Was there a meteor shower in South Africa?

Meteor shower like I have never before seen…..amazing..video is only half as good as it was in reality…. pic.twitter.com/31F58qtgpe

— Stephen Ireland (@StephenIreland4) December 11, 2021

Anyone else see the insane Meteor shower over Durban? Started filming 5sec in so only caught the tail end. 10+ clear fireballs. Never seen anything like this before. KZN, South Africa. #meteorshower pic.twitter.com/m7JEDcFqAx

— Nick Allen (@NicKAllen6) December 11, 2021

This is the shooting star/meteor that I just witnessed for over 30 seconds in Zeerust, South Africa. That time it’scloudy here @SAWeatherServic @JoelGuy_ @afriwx @NASA pic.twitter.com/LEyM4sGFNs

— Chockie Mokoto (@ChockieMokoto) December 11, 2021

‘No meteor shower, just space debris’ – Professor poops the party

Alas, just as we were preparing to wish upon these shooting stars, a leading professor has explained this was neither a meteor shower, nor was it a rogue comet. The real answer is much more pragmatic.

Professor Tim Cooper, from the Astronomical Society of South Africa, told TimesLive that the dazzling display was actually the re-entry of a rocket from a spacecraft headed towards the ISS. That’s it guys, fun’s over…

“This was probably the re-entry of the SL-4 rocket booster from the Roscosmos Soyuz 2.1a rocket which launched the latest cosmonauts to the ISS [International Space Station] on December 11. The lights had nothing to do with a comet, asteroid, meteor stream or the Geminids as posted variously elsewhere.”

Tim Cooper

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