If you’re in Los Angeles and you looked up this evening, you can be forgiven for losing your shit. After all, it’s mere days after a haunting New York Times report made alien visitors seem more plausible than ever, and now you’re seeing an indescribably weird light display! Rest assured, it is not aliens, probably, just Elon Musk.
(Update: Here’s a video from reader What-a-witty-name:)
Spooked LA residents lit up social media over a bizarre object rocketing into space this evening, appearing to be wrapped in a ball of light. What this reportedly is is just the contrails from the final SpaceX mission of the year. The Falcon 9 rocket was launched around 5:30 p.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base and quickly set Twitter and Facebook alight with concern.
But according to website spacearchive.info, this was predicted due to the position of the sun at the time of the launch:
The next publicly announced Vandenberg AFB rocket launch is a Falcon 9 on the evening of December 22. The vehicle is slated to lift off at 17:27:34 PST and carry several Iridium communications satellites into orbit. This launch occurs 30 minutes after Vandenberg AFB sunset. The rocket’s bright flame should be visible over a wide area. The launch could be impressive beginning at T+ 2 minutes 12 seconds when simulations show the exhaust plume will be illuminated at high altitude by the sun.
More accounts below, and video: