|Occurred : 9/19/2002 19:36 (Entered as : 091902 19:30)
Reported: 9/19/2002 8:59:53 PM 20:59
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
|Bubble with stationary beam shining into it, lightning bolt coming out of the bottom.
We were driving West in North Scottsdale, by Grayhawk golf club. We noticed a large orange-pink bubble (about the size of a hot air balloon times 10) fairly high in the sky. The bubble had a stationary light beam shining directly into it that was much brighter and larger than we have ever seen. There was a streak very similar to lightning that came from the bottom of the bubble all the way to the ground. It was also the orange-pink color. After a few minutes, the light faded away, and the bubble slowly faded. The lightning streak was visible for about another 10 minutes, but moved west quickly. Both of us immediately felt that we were seeing something not of this world. Many other cars pulled over to observe.
**We both work in the high-tech industry, have masters degrees, and don't believe we would jump to rash conclusions.
((NUFORC Note: Missile launch from Vandenberg AFB. Please see article. PD))
((BEGIN ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE ABOUT LAUNCH))
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.
((END ARTICLE BY ASSOCIATED PRESS))