CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Sci-Tech

Mysterious jagged light in California night sky feeds UFO speculation

But the alien invasion hasn't started. Yet.

nwsbayareameteor

The National Weather Service caught sight of the strange light from its Bay Area office.

National Weather Service Bay Area

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.   

A bright meteor was visible in the skies over the Bay Area shortly after sunset this evening, leaving a bright trail...

Posted by Lick Observatory on Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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 a dash-cam video of an impressive green fireball on Dec. 12, and the annual Geminid meteor shower just passed its peak. The Bay Area happened to luck into a spectacular specimen of a meteor, no aliens required.