Thursday, December 10, 2009
Mysterious spiraling lights spurs UFO reports over Norway
CNN) -- A strange swirl of blue light seen in the morning sky above Norway on Wednesday is being linked to a failed Russian missile test.
The phenomenon could be seen all over Norway with witnesses describing a swirling light which filled the sky around 8.00 a.m. local time (2.00 a.m. ET), which then seemed to explode.
The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed the Russian Navy launched a Bulava ballistic missile on the same day, but has declined to make any connection with the lights seen over Norway.
It confirmed the missile was fired from the "Dmitry Donskoi" nuclear submarine, but would not comment on the submarine's location at the time of launch.
Truls Lynne Hansen, the head of Troms Geophysical Observatory in northern Norway told CNN missile launches were a common sight in the area.
"We have seen rockets being launched from north-west Russia, and the rocket range in Kiruna in northern Sweden, and from the neighboring Andenes in northern Norway, but nothing like this," Hansen said.
"Normally we see the second stage of the rocket burning then it disappears. This was something very unusual," he added.
In a written statement, the Russian Defense Ministry said the missile failed in the third stage of its trajectory.
"Unstable work of the engine of the [missile's] third stage was detected by the monitoring systems," the statement said. "The causes of the technical error are being established by a state commission."
Erik Tandberg, a consultant to the Norwegian Space Center, said the agency had been inundated with calls about the origin of the swirling light.
Within hours he said the agency had concluded that it was a failed Russian missile.
"It was almost certain that it was a Russian military rocket and missile," Tandberg told CNN. "From the first call in the morning yesterday, I think it took about two or three hours until we saw the photographs that it became clear to most people what was involved."
Early theories floated on the Internet included an Alien visit or something related to U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Oslo on Thursday to collect his Nobel Peace Prize.
"I think it was clear to most people that it was not a UFO, as most people define a UFO. Of course everything is a UFO until you know what it is. But most people think about UFOs as aliens and things like that, that was something that came up very early but not later," Tandberg said.
At the Troms Geophysical Observatory, scientists measure the earth's magnetic field, including the aurora borealis, or northern lights, a natural light display seen near the northern magnetic pole.
Hansen said a combination of circumstances made the strange light clearly visible. He attributes the blue haze to gases from the missile being lit by the sun from below.
"We have no sunshine here at the moment. The sun is not rising and is just below the horizon to the east. The sky was very, very clear, cold and clear and this means that gas that was released by the rocket was lit up by the sun from beneath. That was one of the reasons it was so clear," he said.
Computer simulation of spiraling rocket: