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Explosion In The Sky Likely A Weather Balloon From Bay Area

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Elijah Prychodzko captured video of this explosion in the sky above Sacramento with his smartphone on December 20, 2012. (CBS)

Elijah Prychodzko captured video of this explosion in the sky above Sacramento with his smartphone on December 20, 2012. (CBS)

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OAKLAND (CBS 5) – A Northern California man’s video of a mysterious object exploding in the sky baffled astronomers over the holidays. While some speculated the object was a UFO, weather experts said there is a down-to-earth explanation behind the blast.

The video was taken from a Sacramento man’s telescope on December 20th. It shows an object hovering in space, and then suddenly exploding.

Elijah Prychodzko, who shot the video, told CBS 13 in Sacramento, “I saw something that I’d never seen before. I saw another object orbiting this — whatever it was up there, and I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Astronomers were not able to identify the object. The man who shot the video wondered if it was otherworldly.

The answer may be in a facility not far from Oakland International Airport. Milan Rodic, a weather technician, inflates and launches weather balloons at 3 a.m. and 3 p.m., seven days a week.

“It’s a pretty old technology. We’ve been using it since before World War II, but it’s a very basic building block for meteorological analysis,” said George Cline of the National Weather Service.

The agency calls weather balloons a cornerstone of what they do. Balloons carry radio transmitters and weather instruments, sending data back to meteorologists.

At 3 p.m., Rodic and nearly 100 other technicians around the nation release the balloons into the atmosphere at the exact same time.

The balloons are designed to self-destruct and fall back to earth after a couple of hours and scientists said that’s exactly what is seen in the video.

“It’s very unusual to catch a balloon burst, but it’s done occasionally,” Cline said.

Cline said the timing of the video, which was taken at 5 p.m. that day, convinced him the explosion was a weather balloon likely released from Oakland. The balloon was probably coated with ice and moisture, which burst spectacularly in the light of the sun.

“They hit the sun and they look pretty impressive,” Cline said.

Once the balloon bursts, experts said the weather instruments gradually fall back to the earth with the help of parachutes. Anyone who finds these instruments can send them back to the National Weather Service with the attached envelope.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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