Why all the secrecy with that mystery light in the sky this weekend?

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That mysterious light in the sky that everyone was posting on Facebook (and some people actual went outside to look at) Saturday night was an unarmed Trident II missile test by the military off the coast. So why didn’t anyone know about it in advance?

The L.A. Times answered some questions about that light in an article posted on Monday – including the big one: if the light was bright enough to be seen all the way to Utah, why not warn everyone to avoid a social media freakout?

Loren Thompson, a military analyst with the Lexington Institute, says the military needs to give local aviation officials enough information about the time and place of an upcoming test to ensure no planes are in the area.

At the same time, the military is determined to keep tests shrouded in secrecy to thwart any efforts by potential adversaries — namely Russia and China — to monitor the missile launch and flight, Thompson said.

The confusion and social media uproar that erupted Saturday night are an unfortunate but unavoidable trade-off, Thompson added.

So there you go.  The military will trade off you thinking aliens are paying a visit in return for Putin not stealing our military secrets.  Seems fair – and especially for this particular test:

The need for secrecy Saturday was all the more important given the type of weapon the Navy was testing, according to Thompson.

The Trident II (D5) missile is a centerpiece of the U.S. military’s ability to deter a nuclear attack, and an ongoing effort to modernize the weapon is a top priority, he said.

Knowing that a Trident was going to be tested would give prying eyes — sailors on a Russian submarine in the Pacific, for example — the ability to gather valuable information, Thompson said. Tracking the missile’s trajectory, speed, electromagnetic emissions and other characteristics in real time could provide insights into potential vulnerabilities.

The Times also answers other questions about that light, including why it was so darn bright (it had to do with the sunset) and why LAX had to make some changes because of test.  You can check out the article here.