Sunday, May 26, 2024

A strange vortex appears among the northern lights in the Alaskan night sky

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Aurora lovers were in for a surprise as green bands of light danced across the Alaskan sky: A bright blue star-like vortex appeared for a few minutes in the middle of the aurora borealis.

Saturday morning’s cause is more mundane than an alien invasion or the appearance of a portal to the edge of the universe. It was excess fuel delivered by a SpaceX rocket that launched from California about three hours before the vortex appeared.

Sometimes rockets need to be jettisoned, said astrophysicist Don Hampton, associate research professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Geophysics.

“When they do it at higher altitudes, that fuel turns into ice,” he said. “If it happens in sunlight, when you’re in the dark on Earth, you can see it as a big cloud, and sometimes it moves around.”

Although it’s not common, Hampton said he’s seen similar incidents three times.

Stuart Wagner
Stuart Wagner
"Professional coffee fan. Total beer nerd. Hardcore reader. Alcohol fanatic. Evil twitter buff. Friendly tv scholar."

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