Soyuz rocket debris seen on sky in Europe
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
The Soyuz rocket carrying the satellite crashed into Siberia minutes after its launch and created the streak of light.A ball of light streaking across the night sky in northern Europe on Dec. 24 at a time when many imagined that Father Christmas was doing his rounds was nothing more than Soyuz rocket debris, Belgian experts said.
“The ball observed ... above Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Germany was the return of the last stage of the Soyuz rocket launcher,” Belgium’s Royal Observatory said on Dec. 24.
Videos nearly 30 seconds long were posted on the Internet showing the ball of light trailing a long tail, seen at dusk Dec. 24 in southern Belgium, northern France and many parts of Germany.
Astronomers concerned with unidentified flying objects at a center in Mannheim, southwestern Germany, were swamped with telephone calls, and they initially thought it was a meteorite.
The Belgian observatory solved the mystery on Dec. 25 when it linked the sighting to the crash of a Russian satellite on Dec. 22.
The Soyuz-2.1B rocket carrying the satellite crashed into Siberia minutes after its launch due to rocket failure.
On its way down, it apparently created the streak of light seen in the European sky on Dec. 23.
Also, a fragment of the Russian satellite hit a residential house on a street named after cosmonauts, officials said.