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Emergency services were flooded with calls about a potential plane crash, residents feared 2020 may finally have unleashed alien hordes to put humanity out of its misery… but what exactly did light up the skies above Victoria?

“Feels right that the next step for 2020 is alien invasion…” wrote one Twitter user as their feed was flooded with images of an unidentified flying object in the skies above southeast Australia on Friday evening.

Just saw this meteor over Creswick towards Ballarat @WINNews_Bal@ballaratcourier@3AW693pic.twitter.com/52gtSL33CD

#Ballarat#shootingstar#shooting#star#alienspic.twitter.com/i0C31OIP1J

Tom Toose, a 31-year-old farmer watched the “massive burning trail of embers” in the sky with his girlfriend for about 30 seconds before it disappeared.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life,” Toose said. “It looked like a plane was getting shot down, it was massive.”

Both Ambulance Victoria and the Country Fire Authority were inundated with calls from anxious residents worried about a potential plane crash.

These lights flying through the air were seen from my family’s farm tonight north of Ballarat. Meteorite or space junk? Looks pretty cool whatever it is 😳👾👽 @theheraldsun@ballaratcourier#ballarat#smeatonpic.twitter.com/RqbB37VpIN

They needn’t have worried, however; neither the end of days nor first contact with aliens were taking place. Instead it was something far worse… Those pesky Russians were at it again. 

As it turns out, the fiery spectacle was actually the remnants of a rocket used to launch a Russian satellite into orbit. 

The rocket was reportedly launched at 10:31 local time from Plesetsk, about 1,000 kilometers north of Moscow, according to russianspaceweb.com.

Hi there, you saw the scheduled re-entry of the 3rd stage of russian Soyuz 2.1b orbital rocket.https://t.co/enwwMlu8rB

“What gives it away as being a space junk [rather than a meteor or comet] is that it’s come in at a very shallow angle, so that means it world have been a very low Earth orbit and just re-entered the atmosphere and started burning because of friction,” explained Perry Vlahos, vice president of the Astronomical Society of Victoria.

Meteors typically last three seconds at most and comets move extremely slowly across the sky, making them largely indistinguishable from the stars to the naked eye. Mystery solved… or is it?

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