Fresno’s dark sky was suddenly illuminated with a streak of light. But what was that?

The dark skies of Fresno suddenly lit up with a streak of light early Friday evening, piquing people’s curiosity.

No, that UFO wasn’t the Millennium Falcon.

Nor was it Santa and his reindeer getting an early start on Christmas deliveries.

It was the exhaust trail from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, fired off all the way from Vandenberg Air Force Base, roughly 200 miles southwest of Fresno.

And yet the rocket could be seen vividly in the city and beyond.

Calls came in to TV stations in San Diego, cars stopped on L.A. freeways as drivers and passengers took pictures and video and the Los Angeles Fire Department issued an advisory that the "mysterious light in the sky" was from the rocket launch, according to The Associated Press.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lifted off at 5:27 p.m., carrying aloft 10 satellites for Iridium Communications.

All 10 successfully deployed, the last one about 1 hour, 12 minutes after liftoff.

The Falcon 9’s first stage also launched 10 satellites in June, making Iridium the first SpaceX customer to launch twice atop the same rocket.

This was SpaceX’s 18th launch of the year.


I, too, witnessed the SkyThingy tonight. #spacex #skythingy

A post shared by Pam Severns (@pamueljackson) on

Bryant-Jon Anteola: 559-441-6362, @Banteola_TheBee