Mysterious Flash Lights Up Western Sky
'I've never seen anything like it'
October 4, 1996
Web posted at: 11:45 a.m. EDT
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A mysterious flash lit the Western sky from San
Francisco to central New Mexico, fueling speculation that a UFO whizzed by,
a low-flying plane swooped overhead or a chunk of space rock fell from the
What the thing was remains a mystery, though an astronomer said it might
have been a "piece of asteroid."
People from California to New Mexico reported the strange flash shortly
before 9 p.m. Thursday. Witnesses said it was an intensely bright
bluish-green light which streaked across the sky for just a few seconds.
Kevin Mullins with Kern County California Fire Department told CNN they
received several calls from people claiming to have seen the mysterious
Christine Church of Belen, New Mexico, described the object as having a row
of five to six lights lined up horizontally. At first, she thought it was
an airplane about to crash, but when she went out to investigate she found
"There was no noise, no crash and the lights were gone," Church told CNN.
"I've never seen anything like it."
A television news helicopter pilot said he swerved to avoid what he at
first thought was a spotlight from another helicopter.
But NASA officials downplayed the sightings saying the object might have
been a falling satellite, and an astronomer at Los Angeles' Griffith Park
Observatory said the flash was probably caused by space debris burning up
as it entered the atmosphere.
"This is probably the biggest flash we've seen in two years," said
astronomer John Moseley. "The meteor was probably a crumbly piece of
asteroid, or possibly a fragment of a comet."