LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A mysterious light trail in the sky was spotted across California Wednesday night.
The streak was seen around the same time of the scheduled launch of the Delta IV Heavy rocket, which was scrubbed moments before liftoff around 5:45 p.m.
KCAL9’s Evelyn Taft reports the light is believed to have been ice crystals that formed when a meteor hit the Earth’s atmosphere.
But the trail, which was reportedly seen from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco area, had imaginations in overdrive. People posted on social media about the fiery-looking squiggle.
Griffith Observatory Curator Dr. Laura Danly believed there a perfectly logical explanation for the streak.
“There was a huge, bright shooting star. We call it a bolide, which is when it’s really big and bright and it’s a big chunk of something burning up in the atmosphere,” Danly said.
If you’re not a science buff, a meteor and a shooting star are one and the same, but as Danly explained, a bolide applies to a “really bright ones.”
By coincidence, the meteor streaking across the sky occurred almost simultaneously with the failed launch.
A massive crowd had gathered at the Griffith Observatory to view the rocket soar over the area. The rocket was supposed to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County.
“It was a complete coincidence. Everybody was looking west to look for the launch and then suddenly was like, ‘What’s that? Is that the launch? It can’t be, it’s not for another 15 minutes. So we just lucked out,” Danly said.