Queensland skies light up as Chinese space junk burns up in atmosphere

(Reuters) - Social media in Queensland, Australia lit up on Thursday night, matching the flashing night sky as users posted short videos of what experts later said was debris from a Chinese rocket burning up as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

“I thought it was a meteorite at first, but later as it split, my mate and I began thinking it was space junk,” said Jasper Nash, who filmed one of the videos circulating on social media. “It was very fascinating.”

Professor Jonti Horner of the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Astrophysics said the light show came from the re-entry of a Chinese rocket launched in November 2019, carrying a satellite into orbit.

Others with less expert knowledge were at first spooked by the display.

“I initially thought it was something other than space debris,” said Jack Robins, another observer who took to social media to post video. “To be honest I freaked out for a second until I realised.”

(This story refiles to add dropped word “junk” in headline)

Reporting by Yi Shu Ng; Additional reporting by Stefica Nicol Bikes; Writing by Kenneth Maxwell; Editing by Gerry Doyle