Three possible explanations for unidentified falling object over city

2015-05-08 10:24
This object was seen falling from the sky on Tuesday afternoon in Northdale. Did you see it?

This object was seen falling from the sky on Tuesday afternoon in Northdale. Did you see it? (Supplied)

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WAS it a plane, a bit of space junk or a very large meteor?

A Pietermaritzburg women spotted and took a picture of what appears to be something falling from the sky and plummeting to Earth last Tuesday.

The woman who did not want to be named, spotted the object on her way home from work in Northdale on Tuesday afternoon and pulled over to snap a few pictures.

“I am really not sure what it could have been, but it was falling from the sky towards Earth extremely quickly,” she said.

She said the object made no noise as it fell and to her it appeared as if it was going to hit the Earth.

Astronomical Society of Southern ­Africa section director Allen Versfeld said the object was not clearly identifiable and an “interesting” find.

He said “whatever it is” it was definitely not a satellite as they don’t leave trails, and “even the International Space Station (which is as big as a rugby field) isn’t bright enough to show up in the day,” he said.

“I see three possibilities. One being it’s a contrail behind a high-altitude ­aeroplane.

“Planes that high up are hard to see, but the contrail is basically a long skinny cloud formed behind the plane, so it shows up nicely.

“Objects that high up can mess with your perception because you can’t see them clearly, similarly to how the Sun and Moon look about the same size and distance, even though we know they’re absolutely not.”

He said the second possibility was that the object might have been “a bit of space junk re-entering the atmosphere”.

The third possibility, he said, could have been a very large meteor.

Should anyone have sighted the so far unidentified falling object in the sky last Tuesday afternoon, contact The Witness with your story

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