Bright Fireball over San Francisco Bay

- 8 Comments - In: , ,

Over 120 reports from 3 states

The AMS has received over 120 reports so far about of a bright fireball seen above the San Francisco area on December 19th, 2018 around 5:35pm PST (December 20th 01:35 Universal Time). The event was seen primarily from Northern California but was also seen from Nevada and Oregon.

If you witnessed this event and/or if you have a video or a photo of this event, please
Submit an Official Fireball Report

If you want to learn more about Fireballs: read our Fireball FAQ.

AMS Event #5618-2018 – Witness location and estimated ground trajectory


The preliminary 3D trajectory computed based on all the reports submitted to the AMS shows that the fireball was traveling from North-East to South-West and ended its flight somewhere in the Pacific Ocean in front of the San Francisco bay.

AMS Event #5618-2018 – Estimated 3D Trajectory


The secret NROL-71 reconnaissance satellite was scheduled to lift off Wednesday evening atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. But Air Force officials claim controllers called the attempt off about 10 minutes before the planned launch, after noticing an issue with the rocket.

Two videos of the event clearly show it was a fireball:
T. Repp from Millbrae, CA shared the following video along with his fireball report (look at the top of tree on the left hand side of the video):

Youtube user Aririn, also share this dashcam video of the event:

Both videos cleary show that it was a fireball and not a rocket launch as some people initially thought.D



  • Hugh J 5 years ago

    Did you notice on the first video at 3 – 4 seconds there was another meteor top center of the screen going right to left.

    Reply to Hugh
    • Anthony Cook 5 years ago

      I think that this a reflection of a streetlight or headlights off the dashboard and again off the windshield.

      Reply to Anthony
    • Jody Thompson 5 years ago

      I think those are headlight reflections

      Reply to Jody
  • Michael Wall 5 years ago

    Amazing event, as witnessed from Half Moon Bay it looked to be a few miles west above Mavericks surf spot.

    Reply to Michael
  • Confused 5 years ago

    In the footage from Nevada, a light appears rising from mid air up to the sky. Also, the trajectory changes slightly in other videos midflight. Compare the light and trail, plus the smaller explosion going up (unmanned minuteman missile which also occur from various air force bases). How do you explain the smaller explosion going up?

    Reply to Confused
  • Sof 5 years ago

    We saw the meteorite as we were walking by Ocean Beach in SF, and the reason why it appeared to be so bright is because the plume of compressed air was lit by the last rays of sun against the dark sky. It was truly amazing!

    Reply to Sof
  • Ivy 5 years ago

    March 1, 2019
    Past 420ish pm (rush hour). Sighting of several fire balls in the same time occur South Colorado Springs behind Fort Carson (Army base). I thought it was a military exercise. It couldn’t be because the sky was too dark starting to snow.
    It was like the dark clouds was releasing fireballs instead of snow

    Reply to Ivy
  • naughty 5 years ago

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA There was a collective ,”What was that?” around the San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday evening as a streak of light went across the sky. Rocket launch? Meteor? Weird cloud?

    Reply to naughty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *