Bright light streaked across California and was visible as far away as Nevada and Arizona, sparking a flurry of calls and an uproar on social media
The US navy fired an unarmed missile from a submarine off the coast of southern California on Saturday, creating a bright light that streaked across the state and was visible as far away as Nevada and Arizona.
The lack of information about the streak of light around sunset led to a flurry of calls to law enforcement agencies and lit up social media as people posted photos and video of the celestial sight. Many people thought or hoped the light was a sighting of an unidentified flying object, or UFO.
One witness, Julien Solomita, happened to be shooting some video footage when his group saw something odd in the sky.
It was very wild watching this in the sky, he said in an email. I cant really say what I thought it was because Ive never experienced anything remotely close to it.
Kevin Stack was walking to dinner with his young son in north-eastern Los Angeles when he was stopped in his tracks by what he thought was an especially intense light from a police helicopter except that it was completely silent.
It intensified then shot across the dark sky, leaving a green trail, said Stack, 41. Then it fizzled and appeared like a dying dot on an old television screen.
Stacks five-year-old son, Blackstone, was under no illusions about what he had just seen.
It was an alien, he said.
It was not clear whether the test was related to the rerouting of night-time flights into and out of Los Angeles International Airport because of an active military airspace from Friday to 12 November.
Flights usually arrive and depart over the ocean from midnight to 6.30am to minimize noise, but they will now have to go over communities east of the airport.
A navy spokesman told the San Diego Union-Tribune the Navy Strategic Systems Programs conducted the missile test at sea on Saturday from the USS Kentucky, a ballistic missile submarine.
Commander Ryan Perry said such launches were conducted on a frequent basis to ensure the continued reliability of the system and that information about such test launches is classified prior to the launch.
The test was conducted in the Pacific Test Range, a vast area northwest of Los Angeles where the navy periodically test-fires Tomahawk and Standard cruise missiles from surface ships and submarines.
A message seeking comment from the Federal Aviation Administration was not immediately returned.
The light was visible for hundreds of miles, startling people in Nevada and Arizona and as far north as Californias Sonoma Valley wine country.
Anybody else see the big white ball of light in the sky? wrote California state senator Mike McGuire, a Democrat from Healdsburg, on Facebook. Wow.
Read more: <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/08/navy-missile-launch-california-bright-light">http://www.theguardian.com/us</a>