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UFOs in the daily Press:

Probable meteor of space junk in Alaska, USA, April 23, 2005:

This article was published in the daily newspaper The News-Miner, Fairbanks, Alaska, on April 24, 2005.

Official weighs in on reported flash in the sky

As 37-year-old John Kempen traveled the Parks Highway to Nenana, Alaska at about 2 a.m. Saturday, he watched the sky, hoping to point out the northern lights to his girlfriend.

But instead of spotting a blur of emerald green, Kempen saw a bright flash of bluish white with sparks for a tail and fiery 'chunks breaking off.'

The comet-like object, maybe the size of a basketball, slid across the sky from the southwest to the northeast.

Kempen figured the object was a meteor.

According to Neal Brown, director of the space grant program at the University of Alaska's Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, Kempen probably saw a piece of space junk.

An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 pieces of useless debris orbit the Earth, Brown said, and more is continually added. Among the objects are rocket motors and bolts and flanges, which are adapters between rocket motors. Also orbiting the Earth are old satellites and out-of-commission spacecraft.

'From about 100 to 5,000 miles away from the Earth, it's a virtual junkyard,' Brown said, 'I think there's an astronaut's glove still out there.'

Gravity pulls the junk back to Earth.

'It's coming in all the time,' Brown said."

The main reason Kempen's sighting sounds more like junk than a meteor is that it exhibited color, Brown said.

'Meteors don't have any blue or green or any colors,' he said, 'Most of the meteors are just rocks.'

Secondly, the sighting was in the wrong part of the sky to be a Lyrid meteor, which would likely travel from northeast to southwest.

Note: meteors do exhibit colors such as green or bluish-white occasionally. The witness never spoke of having seen a UFO. He told of a meter.

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