The Pentagon has confirmed that a bright, mysterious object that coursed across the night skies in Southern California and beyond on Saturday night was a pre-planned missile test-fired from a U.S. Navy submarine.
“Navy Strategic Systems Programs conducted scheduled Trident II (D5) missile test flight at sea from USS Kentucky, an Ohio Class SSBN, in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California,” officials said in an emailed statement from the U.S. Department of Defense.
“The tests were part of a scheduled, on-going system evaluation test,” it continued.
The missile was not armed.
The widespread sighting caused rampant speculation after hundreds of witnesses reported the unexplained moving light shortly after dusk.
“It came closer to us and then just got really bright and the light changed, like to mist,” said one woman who observed the object from Griffith Park.
Added another female eyewitness: “Some kind of gas just filled the atmosphere and the whole sky changed color.”
Some observers believed it was a comet or other celestial event – including remnants of the Taurid meteor shower – while others suggested it was possibly a missile or rocket.
There was also speculation that it was some type of extraterrestrial object, or “an alien thing,” as one woman told KTLA.
Many said they simply did not know what they had seen.
A number of people shot video of the phenomenon with their cellphone cameras and posted the footage to social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
On Friday, Los Angeles International Airport reported that the military airspace west of the airport would be “active” for a week, starting the night of Nov. 6. and continuing through Nov. 12, according to a news release.
As a result, there would be “traffic route limitations” that would require the airport “to temporarily deviate from Over-Ocean Operations,” the LAX release stated.
It warned that anyone living near the airport could notice changes in flight activity and associated noise.
Based on the LAX statement, it appeared military testing was possible until Thursday.
U.S. military officials said test launches occur on an ongoing basis.
“Launches are conducted on a frequent, recurring basis to ensure the continued reliability of the system,” The Pentagon’s statement read. “Each test activity provides valuable information about our systems, thus contributing to assurance in our capabilities.”
According to the Department of Defense, such missile testing is classified prior to launch.