Perhaps it was Santa’s sleigh, though Nevada is a bit far south for him this close to Christmas. After all, NORAD’s tracker still has him at the North Pole, hard at work — we hope.
Or perhaps residents of California, Nevada and Arizona had spotted a UFO, for which there is never a wrong time of year.
Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how eager you are for evidence of Santa Claus and/or alien ships — it was neither of those things: just another piece of space junk that succumbed to gravity and fell, in flaming fashion, back to Earth.
U.S. Strategic Command spokeswoman Julie Ziegenhorn told the Associated Press that Tuesday night’s fireball was an SL-4 rocket body booster from Russia that launched Monday.
Ziegenhorn didn’t indicate the booster’s ultimate fate, but speaking to Buzzfeed, Konstantin Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science at Caltech, said it likely didn’t make it to the Earth’s surface.
“I think this thing disintegrated in the atmosphere and just burned up,” he said.
Good thing there weren’t any presents — or aliens — on board.