Blue swirl appears amid northern lights in Alaska after SpaceX releases rocket fuel | Alaska

Northern Lights enthusiasts got a surprise early Saturday morning when they looked into the Alaskan sky, and for a few minutes a light blue swirl resembling a galaxy appeared amid the aurora.

The spin was caused by excess fuel ejected from a SpaceX rocket that had launched from California three hours before the SpaceX rocket appeared.

At some point, rockets need to be fueled, said space physicist Dan Hampton, a research associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.

“When they do it at higher altitudes, that fuel turns into ice,” he said. “And if it’s in sunlight, when you’re in the dark on the ground, you can see it as a kind of big cloud, and sometimes it’s spinning.”

Although not a common sighting, Hampton said he’s seen similar instances three times.

The vortex’s appearance was captured in time-lapse on the Geophysical Institute’s all-sky camera and widely shared. “It created an internet storm with that spin,” Hampton said.

Photographers who have observed the Northern Lights display have also posted their photos on social media.

A SpaceX rocket lifted off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Friday night carrying about 25 satellites.

It was a polar bear that was visible over a large area of ​​Alaska.

In January, another vortex was spotted on the Big Island of Hawaii. A camera atop Mauna Kea outside Japan’s Subaru Telescope National Astronomical Observatory captured the swirling night sky.

Researchers say this has happened since the launch of a military GPS satellite on a SpaceX rocket in Florida.

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