Massive Fireball Across the California Night Sky – Caught on Video!

July 27th, 2016 – 9:45 PM (PST)

Alabama Hills, California

While our CreativeLive crew was filming a star photography course for the upcoming Night Photography Week, we saw something amazing.

And we were able to capture it on video.

Because we happened to be filming in the dark for a night photography class, our film crew was using equipment that was capable of shooting at extremely high ISO, meaning that we were able to capture a brighter version of this phenomenon than anyone else.

Right place, right time, right equipment. What are the chances?


The fireball streaking across the sky was the largest, brightest, and longest that any of us had ever seen.

As you can tell from the video, we were clearly losing our minds over how amazing this was.

In the footage, you can see that it began to break up slowly as it entered the atmosphere, and lit up the entire sky.

Massive fireball streaks across the California sky

It came from the West over the Sierra mountains (Mt. Whitney), and streaked across the entire night sky to the East, towards Nevada. While we did not know what it was at the time, we have since heard some reports that indicate it may have been the reentry of the second stage from the first Chang Zheng 7 rocket, launched June 25th from China.

About 5 minutes after we stopped filming, we heard a significant boom far off into the distance to the East. It landed.

Watch us discuss what we saw that night

Camera: Sony A7s

Lens: Sony FE PZ 28-135 F/4 G OSS

ISO: 160,000 (!!!)

Shutter speed: 1/30

Aperture: F/4

The Milky Way in the Alabama Hills
This is what we were out there to film – little did we know what else the evening had in store for us. Photo by Justin Katz

See what else the CreativeLive crew gets up to, and get excited for Night Photography Week – September 12-16, 2016. RSVP by clicking the image below now!

Night Photography Week




Justin Katz

Content Marketer at CreativeLive, and outdoor and landscape photographer. I work with great people to create awesome photography content and education.