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Missile Test off Calif. Coast Causes Streaking Light, Confusion

The test created a streaking light that prompted calls to law enforcement and the National Weather Service, and took off on social media.
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A missile test was the cause of a mysterious light that appeared in the night sky over California and parts of the West Saturday, prompting calls to officials and speculation on social media, the military said.

The missile was not armed, a spokesperson for the U.S. Navy said. It was launched from a submarine.

"Navy Strategic Systems Programs conducted scheduled Trident II (D5) missile test flight at sea from USS Kentucky, an Ohio Class SSBN, in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California,” Navy Cmdr. Ryan Perry said in a statement.

"The tests were part of a scheduled, on-going system evaluation test," he said. The Trident II is a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

The strange light was seen at around 6 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET). Singer Josh Groban joked on Twitter that the streaking flare signaled "impending doom."

Actress Lena Dunham, the creator of the show "Girls," also posted video of the sight and joked on Instagram "was I abducted?"

Savannah Hilde was driving home with her sister from church in Murrieta, California, when they spotted what they thought was a shooting star, but which slowly faded to a dot before growing again with a large white tail.

"It looked like it exploded in the air and the whole sky illuminated into a huge white circle," she said.

The National Weather Service in Hanford, California, said it received numerous reports from curious observers about the strange light.

The Orange County, California, sheriff's office took to its Twitter account to confirm that the light was from a Naval test fire.

NBC Los Angeles said it fielded many calls from viewers wondering what the strange object was. Similar calls came in to NBC stations in San Diego and the Bay Area.

The light was reportedly visible as far away as Arizona.

The Navy said it does not typically announce missile tests, and information about tests of Trident II missiles is classified prior to launch.

Los Angeles International Airport announced Friday that active military airspace was prompting it to stop "over-ocean operations" — where arriving and departing flights fly over the ocean to minimize neighborhood noise — until Nov. 12.

That pattern usually lasts from midnight to 6:30 a.m., meaning flights will go over neighborhoods to the east during that time.