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Northern California meteor

Social media was filled with photos, videos and questions Wednesday night about the bright light and strangely illuminated smoke contrail seen in the skies that were visible across California.

Twitter user Joel Angel Juárez wrote, "Woah just spotted a huge white streak in the air looking southwest of San Francisco".

As local news reports explained, the National Weather Service believed it to be a "Noctilucent cloud", which can sometimes be created when a space rock zips through the upper atmosphere.

It wasn't a rocket as the Delta IV Heavy rocket launch scheduled for Wednesday night in Southern California had been canceled. Was it a rocket launch, a fireball, or maybe even the work of aliens?

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Several of this week's planned rocket launches ended up being hit with last-second aborts and delays, but that didn't stop Mother Nature from giving California residents a reason to stare skyward anyway.

"The team is prepping for a 24-hour turnaround on Thursday, Dec. 20, from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base", they added.

Many in California are used to seeing odd bursts of light following SpaceX rocket launches but that does not appear to be the case this time.

"Still not 100% certain, but evidence is growing the object seen was a meteor", NWS said in a tweet.

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