Spiral in the sky amazes Alaskans

But just what was that strange swirl?
Many Alaskans witnessed a strange spiral moving through the night sky late Friday night, early Saturday morning.
Published: Apr. 15, 2023 at 6:14 PM AKDT|Updated: Apr. 15, 2023 at 11:32 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Late Friday night into early Saturday morning, many Alaskans witnessed a strange spiral moving through the sky over the state. Some said it looked like an alien spaceship or a portal to an alternate universe.

In reality, it was likely — as many on social media pointed out — rocket exhaust.

“After doing some online research, this phenomenon appears to be rocket engine exhaust from a SpaceX Transporter-7 mission that launched on the Falcon 9 about three hours earlier in California,” said apace physicist Don Hampton, a research associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.

Hampton explained what many Alaskans saw.

“Water vapor in the exhaust from the second stage engine freezes and catches high-altitude sunlight, effectively glowing and creating this spiral galaxy of a display. The payload is 51 satellites and it’s on its way to orbit,” Hampton said.

Hampton also said the rocket was still gaining altitude when “it did this pass-by over Alaska, stunning many night-watchers.”

A brilliant aurora added to the eerie, amazing sight.

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