A strange streak of light lit up Northern California’s Wednesday night sky. But what was it?
It wasn’t a bird, a plane or Superman. It was probably a meteor, according to the National Weather Service.
The light was seen from the Bay Area all the way to Lake Tahoe starting at around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.
The meteor caused a unique kind of cloud formation – called a noctilucent cloud – that only occurs when there is smoke from burning meteors is present.
“When meteoroids hit our atmosphere and burn up, they leave behind a haze of tiny particles suspended 70 km (43.5 miles) to 100 km (62 miles) above Earth’s surface,” NASA said. “It’s no coincidence that NLCs form 83 km high, squarely inside the meteor smoke zone.”
The last time a cloud formation like this was seen in Northern California was in 2011, according to the National Weather Service.
After United Launch Alliance said a rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County was canceled, many took to social media to post photos and ask questions about the mysterious trail of light.
Some suspected that it may be the three astronauts who NASA said undocked from the International Space Station just moments before the light appeared, though it was unclear if their path to Kazakhstan would take them over California or produce a light trail.