A strange light rising in the evening sky is causing many New Zealanders to speculate about a foreigner’s visit. In fact, this phenomenon is entirely due to earthly forces.
“It looked like a huge spiral galaxy hanging in the sky and slowly drifting overhead,” says amateur astronomer Alasdair Burns, describing the phenomenon that has so excited so many people in southern New Zealand on Sunday night (local time): It’s a really, really scary feeling.”
Various reasons for appearing on social media have been discussed, from aliens to a black hole to a new type of advertisement in the night sky. However, the assumption that the lights in the sky came from a missile test is closer to reality. Physicist Richard Easter said in the Guardian that these are “strange, but easy to explain”. According to him, the phenomenon of rising light is a side effect of launching a satellite into space.
“When the post-launch thrust phase is eliminated, there is still water and carbon dioxide going up, and together they form a sunlit cloud,” Easter explains. “The satellite’s orbit and our relative position to the sun produced these absolutely crazy clouds that can be seen from the southern islands.” According to Easther, it was a rocket from SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company, that was responsible for the helical light. SpaceX launched a satellite into Earth orbit from the US state of Florida on Sunday.
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