21 December, 2018
Those who posted their sightings on social media offered up all kinds of guesses as to what created the streak, which included everything from a missile launch to (you guessed it) aliens.
"We have declared a scrub for today's launch of the #DeltaIVHeavy".
"I was thinking it was a jet or something", Kira Bulger of Oakland told local CBS affiliate station KPIX 5. "I'm thinking it's some sort of high-tech rocket that they're working on, possibly?"
The secret NROL-71 reconnaissance satellite was scheduled to lift off Wednesday evening (Dec. 19) atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Several of this week's planned rocket launches ended up being hit with last-second aborts and delays, but that didn't stop Mother Nature from giving California residents a reason to stare skyward anyway.
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As of Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service said the object was likely a meteor.
"The team is prepping for a 24-hour turnaround on Thursday, Dec. 20, from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base", they added.
"A bright meteor was visible in the skies over the Bay Area shortly after sunset", the organization wrote on Facebook.
"When upper winds in the atmosphere blew the contrail into nicely contorted shapes that looked like a odd glowing curlicue in the air that baffled a lot of people". The society has already uploaded more than 40 images from people lucky enough to photograph the exciting event.