Those who posted their sightings on social media offered up all kinds of guesses as to what created the streak, which included everything from a missile launch to (you guessed it) aliens. But controllers called the attempt off about 10 minutes before the planned launch, after noticing an issue with the rocket.
"I was thinking it was a jet or something", Kira Bulger of Oakland told local CBS affiliate station KPIX 5.
"It was far too big to be a firework", said Gus Graves of San Francisco.
There was speculation that the cloud-like formations seen Wednesday were also related to a rocket launch at Vandenberg.
The launch of a spy satellite from a Central California base was scrubbed Wednesday night but folks still got a light show. According to a National Weather Service in the Bay Area tweet (which the Eureka office retweeted) at 6:50 p.m., "Still not 100% certain, but evidence is growing the object seen was a meteor".
Spaceflight Now reported that the scrub was prompted by a suspected hydrogen leak in the port booster engine section of the Delta IV Heavy rocket.
The launch has been rescheduled for Thursday. The meteor was caught on dash cams, quickly falling, nearly vertically, and leaving behind a bright trail, which shone high in the sky.
"When upper winds in the atmosphere blew the contrail into nicely contorted shapes that looked like a odd glowing curlicue in the air that baffled a lot of people". Oftentimes when a meteor burns through Earth's atmosphere it produces a bright flash and little else, but in this particular case a wispy cloud was produced in its wake. Many people tagged NASA, asking what it was.
NWS Eureka reports they believe it may have been a meteor.