Reported SpaceX rocket seen over Arizona sky

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: Space.com) (Source: Space.com)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A mysterious object was seen apparently zooming across the night sky over Arizona Friday night, leaving a trail of bright light in its wake. 

That object was a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched out of Vandenberg Air Force Base. Vandenberg Air Force Base is more than 500 miles from Phoenix.

[CBS 5 WAS LIVE: Kris Pickel, Jerry Ferguson explain the mysterious light]

The rocket was reportedly seen all over the Valley; the phones in the Arizona's Family newsroom were ringing off the hooks. It was initially spotted by Jerry Ferguson, who was up in the Penguin Air and Plumbing News Chopper just before 6:30 p.m.

"I'm not gonna lie, it amazed me," Ferguson said. "It was an incredibly lucky shot. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time with the camera pointed in that direction."

The video he shot is nothing short of amazing and has been seen by millions on Facebook.

[FIRST VIDEO: 'What in the heck is that?' Our chopper crew spots mysterious lights in sky]

[FIRST PHOTOS: SpaceX rocket launch gives AZ a pre-Christmas light show]

The first stage of this particular rocket was also launched on a similar mission in June and then recovered, according to SpaceX.

"SpaceX did not attempt to land and recover this particular first stage for the second time, instead executing a landing burn and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, according to the launch webcast," Mike Wall wrote on Space.com.

But why was Friday's launch visible here, hundreds of miles away?

"The reason we saw it Arizona is because the sun had not set yet in California and we could see the contrail higher in the atmosphere reflecting the sun's light," meteorologist Paul Horton explained.

[SLIDESHOW: Viewers' photos of SpaceX rocket]

SpaceX is an aerospace company headquartered in Hawthorne, CA. Elon Musk, who posted his own video of the launch to Twitter, is CEO of SpaceX and founder of Tesla, Inc.

[YouTube: Iridium-4 Webcast]

According to SpaceX, the rocket launched Friday night was carrying the fourth set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to be placed in low-Earth orbit " in what will be one of the largest 'tech upgrades' in history."

[SLIDESHOW: SpaceX photos of October, June Iridium launches]

This is not the first time a launch like this has been visible from Arizona.

In December 2015, a test missile launched from White Sands in New Mexico caused a similar furor.

[RELATED: Contrail from test missile launched in New Mexico visible in Arizona]

Three years before that, an early morning launch lit up the Arizona pre-dawn sky in September 2012.

[PHOTOS: Missile launch lights up Arizona sky]

While those light shows were caused by man-made objects, Arizona has seen its share of natural phenomena, too.

The most recent was a little more than a month ago when a meteor flashed across the sky.

But the incident that seems to stick most in many people's minds was an asteroid that lit up the sky the morning of June 2, 2016. It was seen -- and heard -- all over the state.

[RELATED: NASA says flash of light over Arizona sky was likely an asteroid; meteorites landed in southern AZ]

[PHOTOS: Reports around Arizona of boom and flash of light]

The fragments landed on White Mountain Apache tribal land, near the town of Cibecue.

[RELATED: ASU granted special permission to search for meteorite]

After extensive searching, 15 fragments of that meteorite have been found. They’re being studied at Arizona State University, and they now have a name -- Dishchii'bikoh Ts'ilsoosé Tsee, or 'Cibecue Star Stone' in English.


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