Australia: Night Sky Boom Rattles Australians, Baffles Police : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Tuesday December 26 8:44 PM ET Night Sky Boom Rattles Australians, Baffles Police

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian authorities were baffled on Wednesday by overnight reports of bright lights and booming noises in the sky which shook some houses and prompted fears of falling space junk or meteorites.

Police said they received numerous reports of ``explosions in the sky, sonic boom-type noises and flare-type lights'' over a two hour period on Tuesday night from residents along a 124 mile stretch of the country's east coast.

``There was a huge bang which shook my house,'' one resident of Bateman's Bay, 177 miles south of Sydney, told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.

``I thought the house next door had blown up,'' he said.

Police said they had contacted meteorology, air safety, emergency, and defense experts, but were unable to come up with any official reason behind the unusual night sky action.

A number of small grass fires were also sparked around the nearby capital of Canberra at about the same time, they said.

``No debris has been found,'' a police spokesman told Reuters.

The noise and lights prompted fears the accident prone Mir Space station could be making an uncontrolled return to earth after Russian space officials lost contact with the 130-ton craft for 24 hours until late on Tuesday.

The craft, which remains safe in orbit, is to be dumped in the Pacific Ocean, 900 to 1,200 miles off Australia, in late February.

Australia's Deep Space Communications Complex said a small meteorite was the most likely explanation for the sightings.

``That would cause a sonic boom and would also cause some good flares around it,'' operations supervisor Ian Warren told domestic news agency Australian Associated Press.

-- Rachel Gibson (, December 26, 2000

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