WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A strange object spotted in the sky off the South Florida coast created quite a buzz on social media Tuesday night.
An astrophysicist has confirmed what many suspected last night.
Science expert Scott Manley, who has more than a million subscribers on YouTube, said Wednesday it was a Trident missile launch from a military submarine near the Bahamas.
The Trident missile was developed in the 1980s, is about 40 feet long and deployed only from submarines.
Manley said there was a notice posted before Tuesday night's launch to notify pilots ahead of time.
"We knew it was happening because they had to publish a notice to airmen to tell everyone that this area is closed because there's going to be something flying up," Manley said.
However, he said the notification of the launch came at "very, very short notice" to pilots who may be in the missile's air space.
The astrophysicist said these types of missile tests are nothing new for this region.
"We've seen several tests from this area previously of Trident missiles, so we sort of pretty much figured out what was happening," Manley said.
The question remains whether the launch was performed by the U.S. military or British since both countries have these types of ballistic weapons.
"The last time a Trident was tested from that part [of the world], it was a British submarine," Manley said. "These things are very, very secret."
The '#UFO' seen from the #Florida coast today, was a #Trident-II SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) test. The launch occured from a submarine in the Atlantic.— Dr Marco Langbroek 💉 #Vaccinate (@Marco_Langbroek) February 10, 2021
See my blog post from two days ago here:https://t.co/rlw0dqWuiO
Many people who spotted the object Tuesday night said it looked like it was headed toward land. However, Manley said that was not the case.
"This one was definitely going off into the Atlantic. It was really prominent though because of the time it was launched … just after sunset, which means the ground is getting dark … but because the sun has only just gone below the horizon, when the missile gets high enough it flies into sunlight and suddenly it's really bright," Manley said.
He said the timing of these launches at dusk cause "some of the most spectacular rocket launches you'll see."
Many who saw the object along the Florida coast didn't know at the time what they were seeing.
"I was sitting at the inlet and it seemed like it was coming straight at us," said Michael Wetter, who says he saw it in Stuart.
Wetter said he is not convinced it was actually a missile, but he's also not sure what it was he saw.
"That's not very believable, so that makes me wonder," Wetter said.