The explanation for what many people thought was an exploding UFO above Sacramento is no longer a mystery -- it was a weather balloon.
After HuffPost reported how Elijah Prychodzko videotaped a circular, bright aerial object through his telescope over Sacramento on Dec. 20, 2012, the volume of explanations began rolling in for the possible identity of the object.
Those included alien spacecraft, military weapons test, a runaway planet, Doomsday rock headed to Earth and shot down by the Air Force, North Korea's satellite, and, even, a hoax.
If the images above and below look similar, it's because they both show the same type of event as seen through telescopes -- the difference being that the picture above was taken over Tampa Bay, Fla., on July 2, 2012, and the one below was the object photographed over Sacramento on Dec. 20.
Many readers speculated that what Prychodzko captured on video was a weather balloon and not something that occurred in deep space.
"Obviously, something of this magnitude (planetary-size space explosion) would have been noticed by government (NASA) and or professional astronomers along with a host of amateur astronomers," 40-year veteran UFO researcher Frank Warren told HuffPost in an email.
Warren, editor and publisher of The UFO Chronicles website, did a follow-up investigation of the Sacramento video and concluded the object was clearly terrestrial in origin.
"After reviewing several videos of 'weather balloons bursting' at altitude, it leaves no question as to what the image in the Prychodzko video really is. Like any case we dig into, one either finds ancillary evidence in support of a claim, none, or just the opposite. This one fell apart rather quickly -- research 101."
In videos of weather balloon explosions -- which can be found on the Internet -- it looks like something is "orbiting" the main balloon, when, in fact, it's an instrument package called a radiosonde that swings under the balloon, giving the appearance of being in orbit around the balloon. As the balloon rises, the decreased air pressure causes it to expand until it eventually bursts.
According to NBC News.com, a forum on the Above Top Secret website includes this posting attributed to the National Weather Service Upper Air Observations Program regarding the Sacramento aerial object:
"It is very likely a weather balloon that burst. The small dot 'orbiting' the balloon was the radiosonde that was attached below it with about 70 to 100 feet of string.
"The weather balloon was likely released by the National Weather Service upper air station in Oakland, Calif., at about 3:00 p.m. local time."
Watch this very clear telescopic view of an exploding weather balloon over Tampa Bay, Fla. on July 2, 2012
Besides weather balloons, UFOs generally turn out to be easily identified objects, like these:
This is a composite image of how three alleged UFOs maneuvered about in the sky over Melbourne, Australia, in early February, 2013. The final verdict isn't in yet on whether they're birds, aircraft, balloons, bugs or something truly unidentified.
These candle-lit Chinese lanterns can rise high into the sky and are often mistaken for UFOs.
On Dec. 20, 2012, a bright, circular object (pictured at the top of this composite image) was videotaped exploding in the skies above Sacramento, Calif. It wasn't immediately identified, resulting in speculation that it was either an alien spacecraft, military top secret weapon, runaway planet, North Korean satellite, among others. Within a short period of time, it became apparent that this was a weather balloon. The bottom part of this image shows such a balloon as it ascended over Tampa Bay, Fla., on July 2, 2012, and exploded in an identical manner as the Sacramento object, probably much to the dismay of all true ET believers out there.
This is a composite of images shot by two eyewitnesses of a boomerang-shaped UFO they reported seeing over their Burbank, Calif., home on Oct. 5, 2012. Mutual UFO Network photo/video analyst Marc Dantonio concluded the object was likely "a balloon, floating on the wind that has collapsed in half."
This four-image series of lights in the sky was recorded over Warren, Mich., on Jan. 10, 2013. The lights were seen changing into several patterns. The most logical explanation for these types of UFOs is a series of balloons or lanterns.
This composite image shows four different times that alleged UFO were photographed above Earth by either space shuttles or the International Space Station. The big question is whether or not they are truly unidentified objects or if they are more likely reflections from spacecraft windows, meteors or fast-moving spacecraft-generated debris.
What appear to be pink-red UFOs are actually lens flares from the Google Earth street view camera as it snapped images in Texas (left) and New Mexico (right).
These two flying saucer-shaped, pink-colored lens flares were created by the Google Maps camera as it drove through locations in Sedona, Ariz. (left) and Flagstaff, Ariz. (right). The images were snapped in April 2009. Submitted to HuffPost by trenna.
This skybound lens flare was created by a Google Maps camera in June 2008 over Whiteriver, Ariz. Submitted to Huffington Post by Cheryl Weeks.
This very Earthbound lens flare was created by a Google Maps camera in November 2007 at Gulfport, Miss. Submitted to Huffington Post by Jenni Parker.
This seemingly grounded lens flare was created by a Google Maps camera in January 2008 at Eureka Springs, Ark. Submitted to Huffington Post by SE.
This lens flare appears to be following a car. The Google Maps image was created in October 2008 at Escanaba, Mich. Submitted to Huffington Post by Mary Robinson.
On the night of Sept. 28, 2012, a group of strange-looking lights appeared in the sky near Cincinnati, Ohio. First there was one, then, two, then three lights, slowly descending. It turns out, however, that these lights were originating from a group of skydivers performing a pyrotechnics jump at the La Salle High School homecoming event.
Some UFO sightings may be due to a natural phenomenon known as sprites, like this one shown from 2006. "Lightning from [a] thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light called a sprite," said geophysicist Colin Price.
Clouds: Saucer-shaped or "lenticular" clouds that form at high altitudes have been confused with UFOs.
Blimps or advertising balloons: These can look like flying saucers from some angles, especially at night.
On June 19th the Swedish-based diving company Ocean Explorer discovered something they've never quite seen before. They were exploring in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland looking for sunken treasures when a very unusual image suddenly appeared on the sonar. A 197 feet diameter cylinder shaped object was discovered at the depth of approximately 275 feet which resembles the Millennium Falcon from the movie Star Wars.
An image released on June 15, 2012, shows a close-up view of the unidentified object sitting on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
Close-up of rock bed that forms the Baltic Sea UFO, which still mystifies researchers.
One of several odd stone circle formations, sitting on top of the unidentified object at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
A circular UFO hovers above the Neumayer-Station III research facility in Antarctica on Aug. 10, 2012. Theories ranging from a simple weather balloon to a more elaborate ship from another planet have run the Internet gamut. The next slide shows a closeup of the object.
This is a closeup of the UFO from the previous slide. No official explanation has been offered about the object.
Pictured is a quad copter -- a deliberately manufactured UFO created by special effects wizard Marc Dantonio for a National Geographic special, "The Truth Behind: UFOs," which aired in December 2011. On the left is what the small device looks like resting on the ground, measuring 4 feet in circumference. At right, is how it appeared behind a tree in the night sky.
In February of 2012, this fireball was captured by a Texas police chief's A dashboard camera. F.A.A. say this was probably a meteor, falling to Earth. .
Meteors: Space debris can create a spectacular light show when it burns through the Earth's atmosphere, and sometimes reported as UFOs.
Civilian or military aircraft: Planes can look mysterious at night or in certain light conditions, thus confusing an observer.