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Weather Wise: So "sky spirals" are a thing now

Weather Wise: So "sky spirals" are a thing now
Posted at 5:37 PM, Apr 17, 2023

HELENA — There have been several strange and wondrous things in the sky recently like the northern lights, UFOs, volcanic ash from Russia, and even Chinese spy balloons. The latest awe-inspiring, mysterious object moved across the Alaskan sky this weekend.

Alaska is home to a lot of very unusual phenomena in the sky: northern lights, fogbows, and moonbows. But what happened over the weekend was just weird. A stunning and bright spiral grew and moved through the night sky, and it was accompanied by the northern lights.

Was it some sort rare aurora? Aliens? A space storm? A hallucination??

It turns out that "weird thing" was man-made and was rocket engine exhaust from a Space-X transporter mission that launched from California a few hours earlier. Water vapor in the exhaust from the second stage engine froze and caught high-altitude sunlight, effectively glowing and creating a spiral galaxy of a display. The spiral was moving through the atmosphere and was dissipating as it dispersed, lasting only for several minutes.

With a complete feeling of the unknown, many people were bewildered, a reminder of how little we know about what's possibly out there. But in the end, it was just one of Elon Musk's rockets adding to an already beautiful natural phenomenon.