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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Alaska, United States. A mysterious spiral in the sky right next to the Northern Lights

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The spiral shape appeared in the sky over Alaska on Friday night into Saturday. The phenomenon overlapped with the northern lights, creating an amazing spectacle. Although social media users joked that it was caused by visitors from an alien planet, the spiral has a much more prosaic origin.

On the night from Friday to Saturday in Alaska there were perfect conditions for observation northern lights. To the astonishment of the observers, against the background of green bands of light, a bright blue, distinct spiral appeared for a few minutes, with a shape reminiscent of galaxy.

“Alien” over Alaska

As Todd Salat, who deals with photographing the aurora over Alaska, said, the phenomenon completely surprised him. Unlike most auroral phenomena, the object seemed to be moving towards it. For the first time in his career, he managed to register and capture this type of object in the sky.

“At first I was shocked but also quite excited by this mysterious sight,” he wrote on social media.

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Other social media users joked that the spiral is a harbinger of the arrival of visitors from an alien planet.

“I was hoping a spaceship would land and aliens would come out,” said Elizabeth Withnall, who also watched the aurora over Alaska.

A swirling cloud

However, the emergence of the phenomenon occurred in a more prosaic way. As Don Hampton of the University of Alaska Fairbanks explained, it was simply a fuel dump from a SpaceX rocket that took off from California on Friday evening. When rockets perform this maneuver at high altitude, the fuel freezes to form a cloud, sometimes spiraling.

“If the cloud is backlit by sunlight, it will be clearly visible to a terrestrial observer in the dark,” he explained.

While it’s a relatively rare phenomenon, it’s not the first time it’s been spotted this year – in January it appeared over Hawaii. A camera atop Mauna Kea’s volcano captured a spiral swirling across the night sky.

phys.org, Anchorage Daily News

Main photo source: Todd Salat/AuroraHunter.com

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