Alaska is no stranger to odd astronomical phenomena. The region is renowned as one of the finest locations to view the Northern Lights or auroras and for its picturesque landscapes. On April 15th, however, an enigmatic spiral-shaped object appeared in the sky.

On April 15, aurora hunter Todd Salat spotted an enigmatic spiral-like object over Alaska while photographing auroras. “I was completely shocked and mystified when I first noticed a distant bright light approaching me from the northern horizon,” Salat explained.

As the Solar Cycle continues to ramp up, according to Salat, the Northern Lights forecast for 2023 is positive. When charged particles emitted from the Sun interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, auroras are produced.

Aurora hunters caught the spiral-like figure over the Donnelly Dome in Delta Junction, Alaska.

The spiral-shaped object was photographed near Delta Junction, Alaska, over Donnelly Dome. “I wondered What the heck!” I enjoyed the sense of awe, but the enigma was solved,” Salat added.

The spiral was triggered by the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket’s emissions. Three hours had passed since the launch of the reusable rocket carrying the Transporter-7 mission into polar orbit before the figure was spotted over Alaska. The spaceship had departed from California.

“I was photographing feverishly with two camera/tripod setups, aware that this was a one-of-a-kind event. Within seven minutes, the ‘apparition’ passed by and vanished. It was mesmerizing!”

Transporter-7 was the seventh dedicated smallsat rideshare mission launched by SpaceX from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The spacecraft was carrying 51 satellites, which included CubeSats, Microsatellites, hosted payloads, and orbital transfer vehicles.

The spiral is formed by the Falcon-9 rocket’s upper stage, which expels excess propellant during its descent into the ocean.

Not for the first time has a spiral been observed in the sky. It was last detected by the Subaru-Asahi Star Camera in the early morning hours of January 18. The observatory captured the spiral’s movement on a time-lapse video as it appeared as a dot in the left-hand corner of the camera’s field of view. Soon after, the dot emitted an arc-like feature, which gradually increased in size as it transformed into a spiral in the sky.

    Leave a Reply