The Tiangong-1 space station, left, will soon begin falling to...

The Tiangong-1 space station, left, will soon begin falling to Earth and Long Island is within the huge swath of the earth where debris from the spacecraft could land. Credit: Li junfeng - Imaginechina / Li junfeng

Any bright streaks flashing across Long Island skies just after midnight Sunday could be shooting stars.

Or, they could be burning-up pieces of space junk, as China’s first space station, launched in 2011, has been descending toward Earth, destined for “a fiery demise this weekend,” as described by, which offers daily updates on the night sky.

Long Island is included in the massive area of the Earth where the Tiangong-1 station could come down, in an uncontrolled manner. But Long Islanders are more likely to win the lottery than get hit with a piece of space station, experts say.

At this point, the inclination might be to write this off as early antics for April Fools’ Day, which shares this coming Sunday with Easter. But no, astronomers really are trying to track the station, about the size of a school bus, as its orbit decays.

Aerospace Corp., an El Segundo, California-based nonprofit provider of research and advisory services, said in a tweet Wednesday that its latest projection for the station’s re-entry is Sunday at around 12:30 a.m., give or take 24 hours.

And, depending on when re-entry and breakup do occur, there is potential for Long Islanders to actually see the station in its orbit, but don’t look overhead for it, says Sue Rose, president of the Amateur Observers’ Society of New York.

For her East Meadow location, a site called calculates the station to be visible, weather permitting, at 5:43 a.m. Saturday — look for a dim, blinking light, around 22 degrees above the southern horizon, Rose says.

The weekend weather should allow for some possible viewing opportunities, whether the spacecraft is still in orbit or is disintegrating. Early morning Saturday is expected to feature mostly clear skies. Though clouds could move in Sunday, they should clear out late afternoon, meaning another clear stretch into Monday, said Carlie Buccola, National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, as of the Wednesday afternoon forecast.

While no one can say just when and where the station will come down, is looking at a wide band, bordered by 43 degrees north latitude — with Long Island sitting at close to 41 degrees north — and 43 degrees south, down by the tip of South America.

Still, for Long Islanders already on edge over any number of domestic and international issues, not to worry. The chances of getting hit by a piece of space debris are “about 1 million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot,” Aerospace says.

Rose takes that a bit further, pointing to the far higher odds for pieces to drop into ocean waters, which make up around three-quarters of the Earth’s surface.

“It ain’t going to happen,” she said.

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