Did you see it?
It was a little after 7:00. I had just pulled into a parking spot at the pizza shop that had been chosen to prepare my dinner. When I leaned forward to turn off the minivan's headlights, I noticed a strange object flying through the dark sky over the top of the open field that lay just north of all of the newly paved parking lots at the edge of town.
It seemed to be no more than 50 or 60 feet long, and it had to be at least 100 times longer than it was tall. It was mostly a bright emerald green color, with streaks of orange-red accents and a half-dozen or so unevenly spaced bright white dots. The colors seemed to be waving, much like a flag would wave in a crisp fall breeze. Maybe it was just my mind putting everything into slow-motion for few seconds, but it didn't appear to be going all that fast.
It reminded me of one of those airplanes that fly up and down the beach pulling those long banners announcing the latest crab restaurant. But this thing glowed! Perhaps a local pilot was experimenting with some kind of night-light banner, with floodlights illuminating a trailing nylon banner, hoping to make a few bucks from the ever-growing number of new businesses being built in the area.
I got out of the car to get a better look.
As it moved toward the Baptist church located at the top of the tall hill located just to the east, the green banners started to dim and the flying object started to look more like the glowing ashes you see after a fireworks show on the Fourth of July. But it wasn't falling very fast.... it kept moving towards the east at about the same speed.
For a moment, my thoughts turned to long ago. Was this like the fake flying saucers we launched from the front of the high school? I smiled. It's amazing what you can do with a cardboard pizza plate, a dry-cleaning bag, and a candle when you really set your mind to it. No, somehow, the thing I was watching didn't look quite right.
Then I realized the arrangement of the white dots. One was located in the middle on the leading edge of the banner, and most of the rest were located much closer to the front than they were from the rear. Then, one by one, the dots started to burn out. The ones toward the rear went out first.
While it seemed like much longer, I am sure it was only a few seconds later when the last glowing dot, the one located at the front, disappeared over the hill just to the right of the church.
I would learn later, on the 11:00 news, that my flying object had been a single bright glowing ball with a fiery tail just a few seconds before I saw it. People located all across the Midwest had seen it. It must have been going a lot faster and located a lot further away than it appeared.
And I saw it fall from space.
Maybe it was a meteor, maybe it was a failed satellite, or maybe it was something else. All I know is that I will never forget it. And the pizza was pretty good, too.
Last Updated 5/12/2008 9:08:58 PM by 'Editor'
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