A strange light rising in the evening sky is causing many New Zealanders to speculate about a foreigner’s visit. In fact, this phenomenon is entirely due to earthly forces.

“It looked like a huge spiral galaxy hanging in the sky and slowly drifting overhead,” says astronomer Alasdair Burns, describing the phenomenon that excited many people in southern New Zealand on Sunday evening (local time): Really really scary.”

Various reasons for appearing on social media have been discussed, from aliens to a black hole to a new type of advertisement in the night sky. But the assumption closest to reality was that the lights in the sky came from a missile test. These are “strange, but easy to explain,” physicist Richard Easter said in the Guardian. According to him, the phenomenon of rising light is a side effect of launching a satellite into space.

“When the post-launch thrust phase is eliminated, there is still water and carbon dioxide going up, and together they form a sunlit cloud,” Easter explains. “The satellite’s orbit and our relative position to the sun produced these absolutely crazy clouds that can be seen from the southern islands.” According to Easther, it was a rocket from SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company, that was responsible for the helical light. SpaceX launched a satellite into orbit from the US state of Florida on Sunday.

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