What the Hell Was That Fireball Streaking Across the Portland Sky?

As with most strange things that appear in the sky these days, it seems to be an Elon Musk joint.

If you happened to be gazing out your window around 9 pm—or just scanning Twitter—you likely saw something a bit…disconcerting.

In case you missed it, here's what it looked like:

The light was seen all the way up in Seattle as well.

So, in the words of Krusty the Clown, "What the hell was that?!?"

A particularly frightening meteor? A plane on fire? Aliens? Norm Powell arriving from Toronto?

Unfortunately, none of the above. As with most strange things that appear in the sky these days, it seems to be an Elon Musk joint.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, identified the object as a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which sent 60 satellites into orbit earlier this month.

More specifically: "The Falcon 9 second stage from the Mar 4 Starlink launch failed to make a deorbit burn and is now reentering after 22 days in orbit. Its reentry was observed from the Seattle area at about 0400 UTC Mar 26."

Yeah, what he said!

Neither Musk nor SpaceX has issued an official statement yet, but the Seattle branch of the National Weather Service agreed with the assessment. (The Portland branch was slightly more reticent.)

So, given the options, pretty disappointing—but it did give us some amusing reaction videos: