In the early hours of Monday, a mysterious green fireball illuminated the sky over eastern Japan, undoubtedly alarming all who were awake to see it. Japan Times reports that the brilliant object was visible over “many prefectures including Niigata, Kanagawa, Chiba, Akita and Iwate.” It is unclear whether anything made it down to the Earth’s surface.
Witnesses immediately took the event to social media outlets, and it wasn’t long before somebody forwarded the extraterrestrial hypothesis. One Twitter user jokingly commented that the glowing object was a plasma ball launched by Gamera, a giant monster not unlike Godzilla.
The incident was caught by a weather camera in the Niigata prefecture and can be seen leaving in its trail a suite of smaller glowing objects as it zips through the atmosphere.
Not a big fan of aliens on Earth, the National Astronomical Observatory (NAO) of Japan in Tokyo issued an explanation for the phenomenon, calling it a bolide or a luminous meteor that broke apart due to friction:
“It is not likely a part of a rocket because it went flying from east to west, which is the opposite of the Earth’s rotation,” said NAO public relations chief Hitoshi Yamaoka. “We are assuming that a celestial object that revolves around the sun, such as an asteroid, coincidentally came near the Earth and burned up after entering the atmosphere.”
However, Yamaoka dismissed the idea that the object was a Taurid meteor, since the direction it followed did not match that of Taurid showers.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this unusual event was the fact that it occurred less than a week after a similar incident left thousands of Russians scared at the prospect of runaway missiles or unidentified flying objects. Last Tuesday, residents of the Irkutsk area and the Republic of Buryatia were shocked to see a blazing apparition crisscrossing the evening sky. With talks of impending world war and Satan-2 nuclear missiles, it’s easy to imagine the uneasiness that the witnesses felt. Fortunately, there were no immediate consequences to this sighting.
“[…] we saw a sharp light of bright green color. And then we saw the object flying, leaving behind a trail. It flew within five seconds, and disappeared over Lake Baikal. I think it burned down in the atmosphere.”— Mikhail Ovdin, director of a local wildlife reserve told press.
Although 2,000 miles apart, these two sightings share a lot of similarities, as both had related protagonists. Whether the glowing green objects were missiles, meteors or aliens remains to be seen but one thing is clear: our skies are busy this time of the year.