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National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 9/19/2002 19:30 (Entered as : 09/18/02 1930)
Reported: 9/19/2002 8:22:56 PM 20:22
Posted: 3/11/2003
Location: Tahoe City, CA
Shape: Sphere
((NUFORC Note: We presume that the witness means a date of September 19, 2002. PD))

it looked like a comet streaking through the sky. cool.

It was sunset around 1930 on Lake Tahoe Ca. My Roommate and I were on our deck looking outto the SSW. Seemingly from nowhere a bright spherical light came out of the southern mountains. If you know Lake Tahoe, we are on the north shore on the california side in TAhoe City, from our angle it looked like it was over Emerald Bay but a way higher altitude and more to the west.

It started as a tighter looking vapor trail comming from a bright white sphere. Over the next 2-3 minute the vapor became thicker wider. After about 4 minutes from the initial sighting teh sphere gave off a big puff. A ring like vapor cloud floated for about the next 3 minutes where it the "puff" occured. From that point on the leading edge of hte sphere was the brightest and the vapors no longer came off only as a tight vapor tail but also as wispy trails arching like a parabola from it. After about 7 minutes from inital sighting it disappeared but the vapor trail still glowed in the sun setting over the western mountains.

My wife just came home and traffic in Kings Beach lake tahoe california stopped and many other people observed it.

I believe it was a comet that streaked through the upper atmosphere and vaporized.

((NUFORC Note: Missile launch from Vandenberg AFB. Please see article. PD))


Air Force Test Missile Out West
Fri Sep 20, 1:25 AM ET

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - An Air Force missile test Thursday provided a spectacular light show seen over California and much of the West, as far away as Utah and New Mexico.

The colorful contrail was seen soon after the unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile blasted off at 7:36 p.m. from an underground silo at the Vandenberg military base north of Santa Barbara.

"The smoke went up in spirals as the sun was setting and turned into an orange, amber color. It was like a flower going into bloom pretty quickly," said Simon Cox, who saw it from a restaurant terrace in Santa Barbara.

The missile traveled about 4,200 miles in about 30 minutes, striking a predetermined target at the Kwajalein Missile Range in the western chain of the Marshall Islands, the Air Force said.

Vandenberg spokeswoman Kelly Gabel said clear conditions were responsible for the spectacular light show.

"We do this two or three times a year, but because the weather was so perfect we decided to launch it early," Gabel said. As a result, people were still awake to see it, and although the sun had set, sunlight below the horizon glinted off unspent fuel particles and water droplets.

"Suddenly we're getting calls from people as far away as New Mexico who saw it and want to know what it is," Gabel said.

The mission was directed by the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg and the 341th Space Wing and the 341st Space Wing, from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

The purpose was to test launch systems and the missile's accuracy and reliability.