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Peter Birch from the Perth Observatory says it was a piece of a Russian spacecraft launched in 1970.
Mr Birch says it would have vaporised in the atmosphere sparking a light show.
"We had reports from the south coast of Western Australia, up through Kalgoorlie, Ayers Rock [Uluru] and Alice Springs," he said.
The government agency most heavily involved in satellite surveillance technology is the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), an arm of the Pentagon. NASA is concerned with civilian satellites, but there is no hard and fast line between civilian and military satellites. NASA launches all satellites, from either Cape Kennedy in Florida or Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, whether they are military-operated, CIA-operated, corporate-operated or NASA’s own. Blasting satellites into orbit is a major expense. It is also difficult to make a quick distinction between government and private satellites; research by NASA is often applicable to all types of satellites. Neither the ARPA nor NASA makes satellites; instead, they underwrite the technology while various corporations produce the hardware. Corporations involved in the satellite business include Lockheed, General Dynamics, RCA, General Electric, Westinghouse, Comsat, Boeing, Hughes Aircraft, Rockwell International, Grumman Corp., CAE Electronics, Trimble Navigation and TRW.
STEVE KELLY: I reckon, the amount of sky it took up, it must have been hundreds of kilometres wide. It was like, you know, four or five degrees of the sky, from horizon to horizon.
ANNE BARKER: And even the experts were at a loss to explain the unusual phenomenon. Astronomer Peter Birch at the Perth Observatory says it could be several days before anyone knows just what it was.
PETER BIRCH: I think it's most likely a piece of space junk – a disused spacecraft or an old rocket casing or something like that. It would be most unusual for a meteor to be seen over the time that people are reporting to us.
And everybody is telling us approximately the same duration of sighting. Meteors tend to fairly short-lived, for maybe up to five seconds, but most people have reported this between 40 seconds and a minute.
Originally posted by Mayet
An undentified flying object tracked over Australian skies has been reported by the Perth Observatory to be either space junk or a large meteorite according to the Observatory in Western Australia. The object that was tracked moving from the south coast of Western Australia through to the northern Territory appeared to be burning, with a tail and flaring out, getting brighter and then dimmer and then brighter again. Witness reports have the object as showing spectacular colours and being different from a meteorite, being seen over a large area for a long time.
Alice Springs resident Fiona Higgins witnessed the rare event.
"I saw what I thought was fireworks and I thought, that's strange because I didn't hear any bang like you would with fireworks and it was going horizontal not vertical and it was the most phenomenal thing with all the pretty colours," she said.
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Police have said over 20 reports came in for the object which was seen over largly uninhabitated land in central Australia. Most of the calls came from the Alice Springs area, 300 kilometres from Ayers Rock in Australias centre.
It will be interesting to wait for some follow up reports on this object and to hear some witness accounts to see if it can be correlated with prevous unidentified object claims.
[edit on 1-4-2005 by Mayet]
Originally posted by robbonz
So the only thing that is surprising is that despite this object being easily identifiable, especially to those with access to official information, that they were puzzled by this event when amateurs like myself were well aware of this possibility.
Originally posted by robbonz
This is what really happened.
On the morning of April 1st, and I wasn't fooling, I drew attention on a satellite observers' mailing list to the fact that a public satellite prediction site was predicting the decay of a recently launched rocket (note NOT a 1970s model!) and that it could decay over Australia.