Home / Funny / Viral / Photographer Captures Mysterious Blue Spiral Among The Northern Lights


A few days prior, SpaceX was in the news for an entirely different reason than their botched Starship rocket launch on April 20. Although SpaceX launches have long been photographed by astrophotographers, photographer Todd Salat saw something truly unique over the Donnelly Dome in Alaska. Often referred to as the Aurora Hunter, Salat was photographing the aurora on April 15 when a strange spiral materialised. "When I first noticed a far-off bright light approaching me from the northern horizon, I was completely taken aback and confused," he said. "At first, I believed it to be a jet plane passing over some clouds. Then it quickly grew large and took on a spiral shape.

Salat was somewhat perplexed about what had happened and couldn't believe what he was seeing. Fortunately, he was able to move swiftly and record the incident so that he could broadcast it to everyone.

Knowing that this was a one-of-a-kind event, I was shooting frantically with two camera/tripod setups, and after about seven minutes, the 'apparition' swept by and vanished. It had a captivating quality! I had been photographing auroras over this dome, called Donnelly Dome, for the last two nights in the hopes of capturing something spectacular. My wish came true!

Salat realized that what he had seen in the sky wasn't natural when he started researching the matter after returning home. A SpaceX Transporter-7 mission launched on a Falcon 9 from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California just three hours prior. Actually, the spiral is frozen rocket exhaust. At high altitudes, it catches sunlight and glows, forming a spiral formation.

Salat wasn't the only person who witnessed the unusual occurrence. The incident was also captured on video by the all-night camera at the University of Alaska's Poker Flat Research Range. The spiral emerges at 09:50 UT and then, inexplicably, disappears as soon as it is visible.

SpaceX's ridesharing program, Transporter, launched for the seventh time today. SpaceNews reported that it was transporting fifty-one satellites. Several of the satellites were for weather and greenhouse gas monitoring, though the complete payload list was not available. Six previous Transporter missions had taken off from Florida's Cape Canaveral, but this was the first time one had launched from California. 

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