Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Spirals of Blue Light Appear in New Zealand Sky, Experts Point to SpaceX Launch

A blue spiral appeared in the night sky over New Zealand on Sunday.

Stargazers in New Zealand were surprised by strange, spiraling light structures in the night sky on Sunday night. The photos were shared widely on social media, with many New Zealanders comparing them to some sort of “wormhole”. But experts said these “wacky-looking clouds” were caused by the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Globalstar DM15 satellite.

The extraordinary view was first captured by residents of Nelson, a town on the North Island of New Zealand, and was visible 750 km south of Stewart Island.

“Does anyone know if a satellite was put into orbit over NZ tonight or maybe an Australian satellite, I looked a little west at Rangiora Canterbury at some altitude tonight like the picture I posted at about 1920,” Facebook user Inch Posted by Justin in the Astronomy in New Zealand group.

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“The picture I posted is an example of what I saw. Didn’t manage to get a picture of it, just grabbed my binos and saw what appears to be a satellite in the middle of the spiral at a great rate. Knots,” the user continued.

Users flooded the group with comments. “Yes, many of us saw it from Hawkes Bay, near the tail of Canis Major, then heading northeast,” commented one user.

“It’s definitely good,” said another.

Professor Richard Ether, a physicist at the University of Auckland, explained the reason behind the phenomenon. Clouds of that nature sometimes occur when a rocket carries a satellite into orbit, he explained. Guardian,

“When the propellant is ejected from behind, you essentially have water and carbon dioxide – which in essence forms a cloud in space that is illuminated by the Sun,” Professor Eicher said. “The combination of things — the geometry of the satellite’s orbit and the way we’re sitting relative to the Sun — was just right to generate these totally wacky-looking clouds that were visible from the South Island.”

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The New Plymouth Astronomical Society said on Facebook that it was “most likely to be a “fuel dump” or “exhaust plume” from a SpaceX rocket launch, as similar effects have been observed before.

According to Professor Ether, the rocket in question was the Falcon 9, which SpaceX used on Sunday to send a satellite into low-Earth orbit.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk congratulates the Falcon team for the launch. “Congratulations to the SpaceX Falcon team on 3 flawless launches in 2 days!” He said on Twitter.

Nation World News Desk
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