VENTURA (CBSLA.com) — Californians from Orange County to San Francisco reported seeing a strange light in the sky on Saturday night that officials later confirmed to be a Navy missile.
Since it was not immediately clear whether the apparent light may have been from an aircraft, or a meteor shower, as some had reported online, many residents believed they were looking at an unidentified flying object, and took to social media to discuss it.
There were plenty of witnesses to describe what they saw to KCAL.
“It kind of started to expand and then there was a blue tail behind it and the light really kind of started to light up the sky a bit and dimmed as time moved on,” said Carlos Rivera.
“It just made this ginormous blue circle and it looked like it was gonna get close to us, said Sarah Burgos.
The Pentagon issued this statement late Saturday night:
As you may have seen in press and social media reports Navy Strategic Systems Programs conducted scheduled Trident II (D5) missile test flight at sea from USS Kentucky, an Ohio Class SSBN, in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California. The tests were part of a scheduled, on-going system evaluation test. Launches are conducted on a frequent, recurring basis to ensure the continued reliability of the system. Each test activity provides valuable information about our systems, thus contributing to assurance in our capabilities.
The missile was not armed. Strategic Systems Programs does not routinely announce missile testing. Information regarding the test launch of Trident II (D5) missiles is classified prior to the launch.
The mysterious bright light moved slowly over the Pacific around 6 p.m. and caused an uproar. Dozens of people called into the KCAL newsroom unsure of what they had seen.
“It floated around and then it went higher and higher and higher and then it just shooted away,” said Ziva Gray, who witnessed the bizarre event. “I think it was some aliens. It was really strange. I’ve been out here three years, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”
Some feared the light may have been an attack against the US.
“I was getting ready to duck and dodge from an explosion because I thought that was gonna happen,” one witness told KCAL.
Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is used by NASA and SpaceX for many west coast launches, reported that they did not launch any vehicles Saturday.
Celebrities, including singer Josh Groban, also took to Twitter to discuss the light.
The U.S. Coast Guard was the first to report that the light was related to a exercise being run by the Navy, over Point Mugu. This suggestion was supported by the tower at John Wayne Airport in Orange County on Saturday night, and was later confirmed by the Navy.
The light was confirmed specifically as a scheduled Trident SLBM missile test.
“Light seen in OC sky was confirmed through JWA tower to be a naval test fire off the coast,” The OC Sheriff’s Department stated.
Commander Ryan Perry of the U.S. Navy released a statement to the San Diego Union-Tribute, stating that the missile that launched was a Trident II, launched by an Ohio-class submarine off the California coast.
There are reports the light was seen as far east as Arizona and Nevada, down south in San Diego, and up in San Francisco.
Stargazers at Griffith Observatory say it lasted for up to 10 minutes.