Was that Santa up there? No, Soyuz rocket debris

Dec 25, 2011
Russian police officers guard a Soyuz rocket at the Russian leased Kazakh Baikonur cosmodrome. A ball of light streaking across the night sky in northern Europe on Saturday at a time when many imagined that Father Christmas was doing his rounds was nothing more than Soyuz rocket debris, Belgian experts say.

A ball of light streaking across the night sky in northern Europe on Saturday at a time when many imagined that Father Christmas was doing his rounds was nothing more than Soyuz rocket debris, Belgian experts say.

"The ball observed ... above Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Germany was the return of the last stage of the launcher," Belgium's Royal Observatory said Sunday.

Videos nearly 30 seconds long were posted on the Internet showing the ball of light trailing a long tail, seen at dusk Saturday in southern Belgium, northern France and many parts of Germany.

Astronomers concerned with unidentified flying objects at a centre in Mannheim, southwestern Germany, were swamped with telephone calls, and they initially thought it was a meteorite.

The Belgian observatory solved the mystery on Sunday when it linked the sighting to the crash of a Russian satellite on Friday.

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 Saturday.

Also, a fragment of the hit a residential house on a street named after cosmonauts, officials said.

Explore further: Bright points in Sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior

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User comments : 3

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Blakut
not rated yet Dec 25, 2011
That's a nice photo, btw. Wonder what the blood level in his alcochol is, for that soldier.
Dutchmet
5 / 5 (1) Dec 27, 2011
You are confusing two separate cases in this news item. The reentry observed over Europe was *not* related to Friday's failed Russian satellite launch, but to Wednesday's launch of a new astronaut crew to the ISS.
yyz
not rated yet Dec 27, 2011
The object observed over Europe was ID as the 3rd stage of the Soyuz rocket that recently launched a crew to the ISS: http://sattrackca...age.html

The failed Russian satellite that crashed *in Russia* would have to complete nearly a full orbit to be seen re-entering the skies above Europe, which it clearly didn't.

Some video of the Soyuz 3rd stage re-entry here:

http://blogs.disc...-so-far/
http://blogs.disc...germany/

Must have been quite a sight in the evening sky.

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