An unannounced Trident missile launch lit up the skies over Los Angeles on Saturday night, setting off a hail of UFO reports, tense tweets and YouTube videos.
After the flare-up, the U.S. Navy confirmed that the USS Kentucky, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine that’s homeported at the Bangor submarine base on the Kitsap Peninsula, conducted a “scheduled, on-going system evaluation test” in the Navy’s Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California. The missile was not armed, the Navy said in its statement.
It’s typical for the Navy to refrain from announcing Trident test launches in advance, but it’s definitely not typical for the launch to be witnessed by millions of people in one of the nation’s most populous regions.
As the missile rose, the light in the sky flared into a blue haze that persisted for minutes and was reportedly visible as far away as Phoenix. Reports flooded in to local authorities and the National Weather Service.
The phenomenon was reminiscent of other nerve-rattling missile sightings, ranging from the “space spiral” visible over Norway in 2009 to the waves of light that led Chinese skywatchers to marvel in 2012 to the Indian Ocean sightings of a SpaceX rocket fuel release in 2013.
Here are just a few of the Twitter and Instagram postings that captured attention.
Apparently there's a UFO in LA ☄ pic.twitter.com/eRwP7nbmDL
— 1D Updates (@1DBreakUpdates) November 8, 2015
The UFO seen over L.A. tonight was just the Death Star getting into position pic.twitter.com/XA9oWXLAeY
— Darth Vader (@DepressedDarth) November 8, 2015
"Aliens attacked again, so definitely put out a press release saying it was just a missile or something." "Yeah, OK, cool."
— Adam Rogers (@jetjocko) November 8, 2015