RESIDENTS, frozen where they stood, pulled out their phones to document what they thought was the first glimpse of alien life.
BY THE look of these photos, you could be forgiven for believing that Earth had some extraterrestrial visitors here for the weekend, or that Batman was trying to send us his patented bat signal.
These were just some of the theories shared on social media by confused Californians who witnessed the launch of tech billionaire Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket into the night sky on Sunday (Monday afternoon AEST).
Mr Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX successfully launched the rocket into space at about 7.20pm on Sunday from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, about 210km northwest of Los Angeles.
On board the rocket were two identical Earth-observation satellites which were deployed into space about 12 minutes after lift-off.
They will become part of a six-satellite constellation that will work in tandem with an Italian constellation known as COSMO-SkyMed.
Once they reach their destination, the satellites’ purpose will be to “gather soil moisture information”.
The launch sent social media into meltdown mode, as residents across the city witnessed an astonishing, albeit perplexing, light show.
Just like the night sky, social media immediately lit up with photos, videos and comments as many people believed they had just witnessed a UFO.
Residents as far away as Phoenix and Sacramento posted photos of the rocket returning to its launch site, asking if anyone else had seen it too.
Depending on the viewers’ vantage point, the lights resembled a comet or had some clouds around it.
“Strange things in the sky over LA tonight. If you live in the area look up,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Ball of light with what looks like either a tail or artificial light beaming from it.”
One commenter compared the glow to the aurora borealis.
SOMETHING IS HAPPENING IN LA. I CANNOT BELIEVE I JUST SAW A UFO!! pic.twitter.com/xh1Zk4GkZq
— Colleen Huttner (@colleen_huttner) October 8, 2018