Residents across California and as far away as Las Vegas reported seeing a bright light in the sky Tuesday evening that an astronomer first called a "meteor" and a government official later clarified was some type of Russian space debris.
U.S. Strategic Command's Lt. Colonel Martin O'Donnell confirmed the news.
Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was tracking a Russian SL4 rocket body.
The debris re-entered the atmosphere over Arizona, according to U.S. Strategic Command. The rocket was launched Dec. 21.
The joint space operation center in the Vandenberg base tracks and identifies man-made objects.
Many people described the light as a fireball streaking across the sky.
"Big big #fireball moved in the sky very slow with a #streak over ventura," tweeted @issradio.
Brand Hunt wrote: "Weird flaming streak of debris in the sky south of Las Vegas just after 6PM. Anyone else see it?"
Bob Brown wrote: "Giant fireball in the sky over Las Vegas. Has Magical Forest visitors asking if it was part of the show. Ah NO!"
Twitter user @So Cal Scanner saw it in Camarillo.
"Just witnessed a large fireball streak across the sky," he wrote. "Lasted for about 30 seconds then went behind clouds. Anyone else see it?"
Lindsey Stull wrote that she thought it looked like a comet or a star shoot across the sky and disintegrate in the air.
A Las Vegas resident who shot video of the phenomenon, Isabell Nungaray, said her 9-year-old son thought it might be Santa training new reindeer.
Last month, a missile launch caused a mysterious white, bluish light that streaked across the sky. It was lit up by the fading sunlight at dusk off the coast of California, putting on "a show" that could be seen from San Diego to the Bay Area.