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article imageMysterious lights in West Coast sky likely from meteor

By Nathan Salant     Sep 12, 2014 in Science
Oakland - Mysterious lights streaking across the sky in Northern and Southern California early Friday were most likely caused by a meteor burning up in the atmosphere.
Experts at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland say the mysterious streak of light that lit up Bay Area skies early Friday morning also could have been caused by pieces of returning space junk.
The lights were visible from San Diego to Oregon, according to NBC Bay Area television, and resulted in calls to authorities from concerned area residents.
Let's not forget the rumors -- social media sites were brimming with reports of sightings and speculations that included meteorites, comets and extraterrestials.
"Nobody knows whether it was a meteor or meteorite or a piece of reentering space junk," Chabot Center astronomer Ben Burress said.
"There was an event today at 6 a.m. – it was reported from Los Angeles all the way up to Oregon," Burress said.
"It was a fireball of some kind," he said.
But Burress also said there were two other Thursday night when coastal residents reported seeing things in the sky.
The American Meteor Society eyewitness page contained numerous reports of amateur sightings, and the group is investigating 42 of them.
"This was one of the most incredible sights I have ever witnessed," observer Harry T. from San Diego wrote on the page.
"It was so bright and it streaked for a great distance across the sky -- it was the largest fireball or meteor that I have ever seen," he said.
Scott Courtright of Antioch managed to take pictures of the object before it disappeared, the TV station said.
"After the initial bright point went away there was an area that was illuminated and blue green," Courtright said.
"It was moving slow but it was moving," he said.
Anthony Fox of Rancho Codova managed to take a video of the sky scene while he let his dogs out at 6:20 a.m., and saw a white light moving across the sky.
"I've never seen anything quite like that," he told the TV station, adding that he was able to see the light for 15 or 20 seconds.
"I thought it was pretty cool," Fox said, adding "cool and a little eerie at the same time, not knowing what it was. I've never seen anything quite like that."
Bob Benjamin of the U.S. National Weather Service forecaster told the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper that he did not know what caused the light show.
"It's a rarity up here, but it could be the sun," Benjamin said.
"There is, as far as I know, no meteorological phenomena associated with that," he said.
More about Meteor, Sky, Bay area, chabot, Strange
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