Residents of Northern California and people as far away as Nevada and Oregon got an eyeful of what looked like a special effect from a sci-fi movie on Wednesday night. A strange, bright jagged light appeared in the skies above the San Francisco Bay Area.
The speculation came fast, with witnesses wondering if the light was caused by a rocket launch or a UFO. Twitter users rolled out the #UFO hashtag and some outright called it a UFO sighting.
The reality is less exciting. No rockets launched that evening and we have yet to find any scientifically rigorous proof of alien spacecraft visitations. That leaves us with one good explanation: a particularly scenic meteor.
The fireball was notable for its brightness, wiggly trail and duration. Lick Observatory in San Jose, California officially identified the phenomenon as a meteor.
The American Meteor Society received over 120 reports of the fireball. The AMS calculated a preliminary trajectory showing the fireball would have ended its flight over the Pacific Ocean off the San Francisco Bay.
Photos and videos flooded social media. Youtube user marky244 got a particularly good look with a dash cam.
The National Weather Service Bay Area office also got a great view of the streak.
'Tis the season for fireballs. A cop in Indiana captured aon Dec. 12, and the annual just passed its peak. The Bay Area happened to luck into a spectacular specimen of a meteor, no aliens required.