Just before 5:30 p.m. PST this evening, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket into the sky from the Vandenberg Air Force Base — but it turns out, a lot of people thought they were watching a UFO fly over Southern California.
The launch, which saw the Falcon 9 sent into Earth’s low-orbit with ten Iridium NEXT satellites, marked SpaceX’s 18th launch of the year, setting a modern record.
While the aerospace manufacturer founded by Elon Musk had been live-tweeting the Falcon 9 take-off to the excitement of its nearly five-and-a-half million followers, the majority of Californians were left in the dark regarding this pre-planned event (metaphorically speaking, of course), leaving them shocked at the eerie sight of bright lights flying overhead.
The excitement prompted the Los Angeles Fire Department to issue a response on Facebook and Twitter, informing fans that the “mysterious light in the sky” was actually a rocket. But naturally, many took to Twitter to share their UFO sighting — and while it seems the aliens didn’t make contact with Angelenos this evening, sight of the rocket flying above them left people in awe. The L.A. Times even reported that commuters driving during the event pulled over to watch, and naturally snap a few photos, of the rocket.
The photos are both stunning and so eerie:
— Amanda (@alias_amanda) December 23, 2017
— J.T. Alpaugh (@ABC7JT) December 23, 2017
— Laura Rabney (@lasbg) December 23, 2017
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) December 23, 2017
— John Sirlin (@SirlinJohn) December 23, 2017
— Eli Braden (@EliBraden) December 23, 2017
— Tori Chancellor (@realtoric) December 23, 2017
While the mass UFO sighting ended up being a stunning rocket, the launch came on the heels of a report published by the New York Times last week, in which The Pentagon confirmed that from 2007 to 2012, it funded a secret UFO investigation program.
While we’re grateful the aliens didn’t decide to invade Earth this evening — and glad we got to see gorgeous photos of the Falcon 9 rocket — we’d definitely love advance notice next time there’s a rocket launch, that way we don’t immediately start preparing for certain doom.