Saw something in the evening sky -- what could it be?

My kids pointed something out to me in the sky just a minute ago. It was like a golden streak moving across the sky and (slightly) down toward earth. It was 7 in the evening, and it is twilight outside. We are in Houston, Texas and we were looking west. The streak was moving south. Does anyone know what we may have seen?

Contrail of a jet illuminated by sunlight ? The high altitude ones can glow pretty strongly even after local sunset.

It might also have been a noctiluminescent cloud kicked up by hurricane Lili.
There’s a picture of one here. They form at 12-30 miles altitude, so the sun illuminates them long after local dusk.

How fast was it moving? And was it coming from a specific source (like a dot in the sky) or was it just the line itself moving?

When you said moving, did you mean it’s extending?

It was moving kind of fast, I would say faster than an average airplane. It wasn’t extending; the jet explanation sounds kind of right. I was hoping it’d be something cooler than that, though.

Could it have been a meteorite?

It sounds like most of the meteorites that I’ve seen.

Have you noticed a burning sensation in your rear since the “encounter”?


Now that you mention it, cainxinth… :smiley:

Friedo, I have never seen a meteorite, so I wouldn’t know.

Then you probably saw a meteorite. :smiley:

Judging by the time of day you saw it, I’d say it was almost certainly a jet (plus contrail if it was a long streak) illuminated by the last rays of the sun. It can look pretty weird.

Sounds to me more like a test missile launch. We had one of those two weeks ago here in SoCal, and it made the weirdest, golden streak in the sky. I, too, thought it might be the trail of a jet illuminated by the setting sun, but it just seemed too bright. I called my hubby for his input, and he just excitedly said, “Oooh! Test missile launch! Gotta go, wanna see!”

Listening to news radio the rest of the ride home, it was confirmed. The announcer said “For all of you calling in about the interesting lighted streak in the sky, it’s nothing to be concerned about. There was a test missile launch from blah blah blah air force base about 15 minutes ago.”

Sure made for a cool image.

Ahh thats what they shot up at edwards a few weeks ago

We thought they were testing soemthing and it blew up (over the years with all the odd hings you see in the air around you you just assume the air force is testing soemhting )

But at furst we thought a plane blew up heh and was looking for a parachute …

A lot of Dopers seem to be reporting “maybe meteorites” lately.

Is there a reason?

Yup, that makes a pretty cool image.

Yup, that makes a pretty cool image.

OK, someone’s got to make the nitpick. It’s only a meteorite after it lands. While it’s just minding its own business out somewhere in the Solar System, it’s a meteoroid. And when it’s streaking through the atmosphere and producing a pretty sight to see from your back porch, it’s a meteor.

That was it! I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name of the air force base from which it was launched–all I could remember is that it wasn’t Edwards. But ah! Vandenberg! That was the one. Right date, too; saw it driving home from our Back to School Night at work.

Pretty cool pic, eh?

The bright light is the meteor–so it’s still a meteoroid, right?