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Mysterious Southwestern Lights Spur UFO Talk

Southwest Fireball 91411

First Posted: 09/16/11 02:36 PM ET Updated: 11/16/11 05:12 AM ET

Whatever it was that streaked from west to east through the sky Wednesday night over several southwest states still has people wondering if it was a meteor, fireball, space debris or, you guessed it, a UFO.

Keep in mind that UFO means Unidentified Flying Object, so by definition, it is, for now at least, a UFO. From Southern California to Arizona and Nevada, eyewitnesses reported a series of green-blue and yellowish lights.

Astronomer Edwin Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, told The Huffington Post the object was most likely a meteor.

"Nobody's got a clue exactly how big this object was, but it's got to be something you could hold in your hand," Krupp said. "It can be anywhere from a pebble to a rock to a football -- it's a very small object."

WATCH A SHORT VIDEO OF THE METEOR:

The general description of the object received by news outlets and police departments during the early evening was of a green and orange falling object with a tail behind it.

Krupp explains that eyewitnesses find it hard to believe when they learn the "UFO" they just saw was actually quite small.

"What often confuses people when you say that is they start thinking, 'Wait a minute. If this is a very tiny object, how come I can see it?' Of course, they're not seeing it -- they're seeing the super-heated air, which is a huge column of air that could be miles in diameter.

"Once I heard that the reports were coming in from Arizona and Nevada, I knew this was not a local event at all. To see something over that wide an area, you know that it's happening at a high altitude," Krupp added.

Curiously, in the television news reports of the streaking meteor, one video shows something that doesn't look to be a falling star or piece of space debris. It depicts a couple of lit objects over Glendora, Calif., that seem to slowly move back and forth in the sky -- not exactly typical meteor behavior.

Could these have been other types of unexplainable objects?

"Certainly, it's correct to say that most people are not used to looking at the sky, not used to evaluating either brightness, distance or angular size in the sky, and therefore, have a very good chance of misidentifying objects or effects in the sky," said Krupp. "There are all kinds of explanations for UFOs, and the least likely is that they're spacecraft from another world.

"There are sometimes odd lights seen in the sky that elude identification, because we don't have enough information to pin them down."

WATCH THIS NEWS REPORT OF THE SOUTHWEST METEOR:

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