Glowing sky plume spotted in California

Just now there was some sort of a weird glowing plume in the southwest sky. Could be some sort of a rocket launch from Vandenberg or something else. Who knows? This was visible in Chico, CA at 5:35 p.m. PST

UPDATE: Dash Cam video demonstrates it clearly was a meteor.

48 thoughts on “Glowing sky plume spotted in California

    • I was wondering if it might be a falling distress flare. Similar to your idea, it looks like something falling out of control. Some of the brightness might be explained if the smoke trail is above the shadow of the Earth, similar to noctilucent clouds.

  1. Thought there had been a Delta IV Heavy launch scheduled for around this time. Perhaps this is a sign of its launch.

    • Of course it is.
      Until they are identified, that’s what they’re called…
      But it does look like an ascending booster rocket plume. The ice crystals in the plume get illuminated by the setting sun which is over the horizon for us here in CA, but still shining on the ice crystal trail. Differing wind directions and shearing shapes the straight-ish (arcing at altitude) plume into the cork-screw shape we observe from the ground. Whatever the rocket was it appears to be headed south westerly which is consistent with launches from Vandenburg.
      My first assumption was teh D-IVH, but as you note it was scrubbed and has also been scrubbed again:

  2. Most likely the distorted remnants of a plane’s vapour trail illuminated by the sun which is below the horizon at ground level.
    Have seen similar effects many times but not usually so bright.

  3. The Delta V rocket launch from Vandenberg was scrubbed tonight due to a hydrogen leak. Could have been a high altitude aircraft to monitor the launch.

  4. I think there were 4 rocket launches scheduled for today…at least a few were cancelled or postponed. Maybe one made it.

  5. USAF tosses ballistic missiles out the back of C-17s to provide more random pop-up targets to test missile interception systems around Hawaii.

  6. If one looks closely just above and to the left of the street light, one can see ‘something’ in the sky.
    Over on the Chan’s (8chan), there was a pic thst contained 2 of those ‘somethings’ within fairly close proximity.

    Conjecture is all over the place as to what is going on.

  7. There was a lauch scheduled this evening at Vandenberg Air Base just before 6pm. This must be the plume. They were shooting up a spy satellite so all of you watch what you’re doing. Close the drapes if you are undressing.

  8. I was waiting for the Delta Heavy launch scheduled at 5:44pm when I saw this plume appear about 10 minutes earlier. Got a few pics of it. It was in the same direction as Vandenberg (NW from my location in Orange County). It looks like a big sparkly firework rocket going up, short-lived and didn’t go very high. I’m very curious what that was. My first guess was that it was a rocket to measure the atmosphere conditions prior to the main launch, but that’s just a guess.

  9. r Service in Reno.

    “Based upon several videos and reports, it appears as though the bright light in the sky seen at approximately 5:34 PM PST was likely a meteor or space debris entering the upper atmosphere,” the NWS said in a tweet.

    The NWS office in the Bay Area drew a similar conclusion on Wednesday night based on the cloud formations caused by the object.

    “Still not 100% certain, but evidence is growing the object seen was a meteor. A meteor can create a very high level cloud called a noctilucent cloud,” said the Bay Area’s NWS office in a tweet.

  10. Facebook post of Lick Observatory.

    A bright meteor was visible in the skies over the Bay Area shortly after sunset this evening, leaving a bright trail that was visible for many minutes in the western sky. Elinor Gates got a few photos showing how the trail was illuminated by the Sun after sunset and changed shape with the upper level winds in the atmosphere.
    Update: From Dr. Peter Jenniskens (SETI) “CAMS@Lick Observatory detected the flash of the meteor at 01:34:48 UTC (17:34:48 PST). At least three flares.”

  11. SQUIRREL!!-style distraction created by the government so that you don’t notice the nearby chemtrails.

  12. Oh no, global warming is clearly causing more meteors and the sky is literally falling. Just wait, a study with models “proving it” will be on the way…

  13. It’s just another alien visitation – many more recently as they are worried about what we are doing to our planet.

  14. One tell-tale sign it’s a meteor: there’s a razor thin line that protrudes forward from the fireball for a split second. This is the central remnant from the air burst. It’s typically very short-lived and very thin because it’s only a small remnant. And when it ‘switches off’ it means that remnant has gone into ‘dark flight’ i.e. at a lower speed which doesn’t induce glowing.

  15. I was going to go for a Unicorn fart which those in the know will be the supper dooper power supply of the future.

    James Bull

  16. Thursday evening’s re-scheduled launch for the Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission is scheduled for 5:31 p.m. PST.

  17. By the way, I hope you, your employees, their families and others affected by the fires are managing to piece their lives back together. Wishing you all as Merry a Christmas as is possible in the circumstances.

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