Aliens over LA? No, this incredible sight is a SpaceX Falcon 9

Someone broke a hole in the sky, say social network posts from Southern California. That someone was a giant rocket.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister

If you've been looking at Twitter or Facebook on Friday evening and have friends in Southern California, you might've seen them post images of a breathtaking sight. It looks like an alien invasion -- or like someone punched a hole in the sky.

What the ......... That a ufo? lol 😂 #aliens #ufosighting #ufo #southerncalifornia

Posted by Maurice Valentino Townsell on Friday, December 22, 2017

In reality, what you saw was a multistage rocket launch. At 5:28 p.m. PT, at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket achieved liftoff. It was carrying Iridium-4, a package of 10 Iridium communications satellites designed to be part of an 81-satellite constellation that'll hover in low Earth orbit to deliver data and voice communications, including next-gen air traffic control.

That's awesome. And so was the way the rocket lit up Southern California on Friday. Here are some more images and video, including a fantastic shot by Mike Paule that shows the whole progression.

As of 6:24 p.m. PT, the mission was still underway. You can watch (and rewind) SpaceX's livestream right here.

Update, 6:36 p.m. PT: It's come to our attention that SpaceX founder, CEO and hat salesman Elon Musk tweeted "It was definitely aliens" shortly after the launch. He was probably joking.