As many in the area were wrapping up their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations Friday night, they found their eyes looking to the skies above Folsom and much of the Sacramento region. 

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No, it wasn’t a rainbow leading to a pot of gold many they were looking it, as nightfall had arrived and to date Leprechauns don’t commonly fly, especially at night.  So, what were they?

Many social media pages and local media outlets, including FolsomTimes.com, received inquiries about the sightings, including photos to prove it wasn’t just too much green beer. 

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Instead, it was “space junk,” according to an astronomer from Somerville, MA who took to social media to explain what those in the Sacramento region likely witnessed shortly after 9:30 p.m. Friday night. According to Jonathan McDowell, the sighting was retired materials/equipment that was originally launched to the International Space Station over three years ago.

“The ICS-EF was cataloged as object 45265, 1998-067RJ. It orbited the Earth as space junk for 3 years, and reentered at 0430 UTC (9.30pm PDT) over California, widely observed from the Sacramento area,” McDowell tweeted.  “Pieces of a package that was jettisoned from a space station about 3 years ago.”

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According to McDowell, the lights those were witnessing were traveling in the neighborhood of 17,000 miles per hour and were several pieces of the package that had broken up approximately 40 miles up in the sky. 

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Now classified as junk, the equipment originally was in use to transfer data via satellite between the Space Station and Mission Control. McDowell noted in his posts that the object has previously been on ISS radar with no indication of when it would transcend. 

McDowell added that the pieces would likely burn up to very small fragments pose no threat of damage and were on a trajectory to likely land somewhere near Yosemite. 

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Did you capture an image of these lights of Folsom?  Send them our way to add to this story at: news@folsomtimes.com

Many eyes were in the skies Friday night as a series of unusual lights, determined to be that of “space junk” travelled over the Sacramento region shorty after 9:30 p.m. This image was captured by area resident Jennifer Miyashiro.
Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.