Brilliant light over SoCal skies after SpaceX launches rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base

CALIFORNIA -- A mysterious white light that appeared over Southern California skies during the Friday evening rush hour, prompting curiosity and questions from the many onlookers who observed it, was from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch, authorities confirmed.

KTLA began receiving numerous phone calls shortly after 5:30 p.m., when a brilliant but slow-moving light -- somewhat resembling a jellyfish-like creature -- appeared in the night sky. Around the same time, the station also received numerous photos and videos showing the object, and a number of Twitter users also posted images as they sought answers.

It was widely seen across Southern California, with photos submitted from Santa Barbara County down to Orange County. Reports also emerged that it was observed as far away as Arizona.


Some speculated the "strange light" was a UFO, or some celestial phenomena such as a comet or meteor; others suggested the object was a bomb or missile.

A short time after the object's appearance, multiple local law enforcement agencies have confirmed the flash of light was from the rocket launch, which blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base along California's Central Coast. The sighting also prompted the Los Angeles Fire Department to issue an alert.

SpaceX livestreamed the event on its Facebook page. CEO Elon Musk later posted videoto his personal Twitter account, accompanied by the tongue-in-cheek caption, "Nuclear alien UFO from North Korea."

Vandenberg Air Force Base announced earlier this week the launch was set for 5:27 p.m. Friday from Space Launch Complex-4. The base said it was the “fourth Iridium mission consisting of 10 satellites on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.”

Space Launch Complex-4 is along the Pacific Ocean coast west of Lompoc in Santa Barbara County, about 140 miles west-northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The SpaceX launch is the final scheduled one out of Vandenberg this year.