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Alaskan Sky’s Mysterious Spiral: Awe-Inspiring Display and Its Simple Explanation

Aurora And Spiral in the Sky over Alaska. Todd Salat.

When Alaska's sky lit up with a mesmerizing spiral light display, many were left wondering about its origin. Was it a natural wonder or something else?

Photographers Captured Stunning Spiral Phenomenon, Later Identified as SpaceX Rocket Exhaust

A mesmerizing spiral light display in Alaska’s sky left onlookers in awe, prompting questions about its origin. The unusual phenomenon was later revealed to have a straightforward explanation: rocket engine exhaust from a SpaceX mission.

Alaskan Photographer Witnesses Enigmatic Sky Spiral

Todd Salat, an Alaskan photographer known for capturing the Northern Lights, was near Delta Junction when he spotted an unexpected, rapidly expanding spiral light in the sky. Unsure of its origin, Salat described the experience as possibly the strangest thing he had ever seen.

Elizabeth Withnall, a midwife in Kotzebue, was also out early Saturday morning, hoping to view the aurora borealis. She managed to photograph the mysterious spiral and shared her images on a Facebook group dedicated to tracking aurora activity.

SpaceX Transporter-7 Mission Identified as the Cause

Don Hampton, a research associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, determined that the spiral light was caused by rocket engine exhaust from the SpaceX Transporter-7 mission launched on a Falcon 9 rocket in California. The water vapor in the exhaust froze at high altitudes, capturing sunlight and creating the impressive spiral galaxy shape as the rocket passed over Alaska.

Both Salat and Withnall’s online research and social media comments from the Facebook group supported Hampton’s explanation, pointing to the SpaceX launch as the source of the captivating sky display.

The Beauty of the Spiral and the Loss of Wonder

Although the enigma was solved, Withnall admitted that learning the spiral’s origin as rocket exhaust took away some of its wonder. The initial mystery and unknown made the experience more captivating, but identifying the cause diminished the intrigue.

Conclusion: The mysterious spiral light display in Alaska’s sky, which left photographers and observers in awe, was later identified as rocket engine exhaust from a SpaceX mission. Though the discovery answered questions about its origin, some felt that knowing the cause took away from the phenomenon’s initial wonder and mystery.

Featured image credit: / Todd Salat.