Fireballs spotted over western US as Chinese rocket burns up

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - People from Arizona to Canada have reported seeing bright lights in the sky as a Chinese rocket burned up in the atmosphere.

Witnesses described the lights as a group of about three dozen fireballs moving slowly north Monday. Canadian photographer Neil Zeller says it looked like a cluster of fireballs followed by a long orange tail.

Maj. Martin O'Donnell with U.S. Strategic Command says the lights were a Chinese rocket booster that re-entered the atmosphere and broke apart about 11 p.m. Mountain Time.

He says the rocket that launched a satellite in December wasn't abnormally large, but re-entry angles and weather can make things look brighter.

Mike Hankey with the American Meteor Society says his organization got more than 150 reports of the event from nine Western states and Canada.