One mysterious phenomenon seen in the sky over New Zealand caught the attention of locals, who recorded images of a bluish spiral shape on site last Sunday night (19). Photos and videos of the phenomenon soon went viral on social media, leaving netizens intrigued about its true origins.
In an interview with the newspaper The Guardphysicist Richard Easther of the University of Auckland said that while this episode is “strange”, it is “easily explainable”.
The expert revealed that these “completely crazy looking clouds” form when a rocket carries a satellite into orbit. In this case, the phenomenon was caused by the SpaceX rocket launchElon Musk’s company, held in Florida a few hours before being seen in New Zealand.
“When the propellant is ejected from the back, you have what is essentially water and carbon dioxide; which briefly forms a cloud in space that is illuminated by the sun. (…) The geometry of the satellite’s orbit and also the way in which we’re sitting in relation to the sun: this combination of things was perfect to produce these completely crazy looking clouds that were visible from the South Island,” Easther said.
One fuel tank or an escape plume was the cause of the curious spiral, said the New Plymouth Astronomical Society.
“The spiral that was seen in the sky tonight [dia 19] around 7:30pm it was likely a fuel depot or an exhaust plume from a SpaceX rocket launch,” the Facebook post reads.