What was that mysterious streak in the nighttime sky above the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Mark J. Terrill/AP

Residents staring skyward saw a mysterious streak in the nighttime sky over the Blue Ridge Mountains and Upstate South Carolina on Thursday night.

Was it a comet? A UFO?

“Hey @NWSGSP, I’m getting multiple messages from viewers who spotted this just after 7pm tonight,” Cody Alcorn of FOX Carolina in Greenville, S.C., posted on the Twitter account of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C. “People in the Blue Ridge area and really multiple spots across the Upstate. Any info on it?”

Alcorn included a 16-second video of the object, which looks like a comet with a really long tail. The video post has drawn about 2,000 views.

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Within an hour, the NWS solved the mystery: “This is from the SpaceX Starlink satellite launch,” an NWS meteorologist posted.

At 6:12 p.m. Thursday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 48 Starlink satellites and two BlackSky spacecraft into orbit from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, SpaceX posted on its website with video of the launch.

The launch and landing was the ninth for the Falcon 9, according to SpaceX.

NWS meteorologists in the past have sometimes received “crazy” questions from people convinced they’d seen something extraterrestrial in the sky, NWS meteorologist Jeffrey Taylor told The Charlotte Observer on Saturday.

The sightings turned out to be planets, stars or aircraft, he said. “Most things you can explain,” he said.

The Carolinas, however, are a well-documented hotbed of UFO sightings, The Charlotte Observer reported in 2020.

On a sunny June morning that year, an 88-year-old Korean War combat veteran spotted an orange-tinged orb high in the North Carolina mountains sky, the Observer reported at the time.

The object vanished at one point when Charles Cobb happened to look down at his iPad, but it soon reappeared, he said. “The fact that it could zoom up almost out of sight” made this no ordinary object, he told the Observer.

One study that year had Charlotte beaming itself up into the ranking of the top 10 largest North American cities for total UFO sightings in the past century, the Observer reported.

Other cities in the Carolinas made related lists for sightings per capita, including Wilmington, Asheville and Myrtle Beach.

The Queen City’s 153 sightings of mysterious lights, discs and orbs in the sky since 1910 had Charlotte ranked ninth among the 25 largest cities by population and tops in North Carolina.