Strange Spiral Light Show Over Norway

Last Wednesday night, a strange, beautiful spiraling light appeared in the sky over Norway. Astronomers quickly denied any connection between the spiral and the Aurora Borealis, leaving UFO geeks and other sorts to speculate about what caused the haunting image in the Scandinavian sky.


Sadly, we will have to keep waiting for that elusive “first contact.” The Russian defense ministry announced that the light show was the result of a failed missile test. A Bulava ICBM was launched from a submarine submerged in the White Sea. The third stage of the missile failed, presumably at high altitude.

An explanation of what happened is simple enough — observers were watching the rocket down its axis of trajectory, rather than perpendicular to that axis (which is how we view a Space Shuttle launch, for example). If the guidance system or one or more of the rocket motors malfunctioned, the rocket would probably begin to spiral. Viewed from a perpendicular axis, the rocket would appear to wobble, but viewed on-axis you would see a slowly-expanding spiral pattern. At very high altitudes, where the atmosphere is thin, the material ejected from the rocket (smoke, fuel, debris, or whatever) would obey Newton’s third law in a more pronounced fashion, and continue on its spiral trajectory even after the rocket had broken apart. The combination of moonlight and smoke (microscopic particles are very good light diffusers) could certainly provide enough illumination to make the event visible for some time.

YouTube user “unmannedspaceflight” put together a nice computer simulation of what this would look like, based on a rocket ejecting debris both behind and out the side (which could very well happen with a major system malfunction). Here is what he came up with:

Fortunately this was not the prelude to an alien invasion, or a mini black hole caused by the Large Hadron Collider. It was simply an event that obeyed ordinary physics laws, viewed under somewhat unusual circumstances.

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  • GarandFan

    I question the timing. Do the Russians have an Area 51? Where was Putin? Does Obama know about this? WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!

  • epador

    No GF, only you that didn’t put on your tin foil hats immediately!

  • RicardoVerde

    That is their newest SLBM and they haven’t had good luck with it so far. It is a solid fuel design and I think they have used mostly liquid fueled missiles prior to this. The rumor is that the company making these has only a couple more tests to get it right or they go back to the old style missile; then again Russian rumors are not known for their fidelity with the world as it is.

  • Mac Lorry

    Russia spends a lot to maintain its reputation as having the biggest of everything. It takes so much money to have the biggest airplane, the biggest submarine, and the biggest helicopter that the rocket scientists have little to work with. The light show was done on purpose to call attention to the moonlighting the scientists have to do to make ends meet. The Russian rocket program is a fly by night outfit, but officials have been able to spin such news and keep the west in the dark. 🙂

  • Jay Guevara

    1. Now will you denialists believe in global warming?

    2. So Barack got the star, but not the three wise men? Is that because he’s black?

    3. I blame Bush.

  • Jay Guevara

    Oops, one more.

    Obama said that one day there’d be a light shining down, and we’d realize we should vote for Him. But there was this mix-up (Julian, Gregorian calendar, whatever) and it came a year late.

  • It was the “Blue Beam” Project. Did they found the missile? Did the radars detect it? No.

  • poptoy

    It was The Kenyans EGO run wild.

  • 914


    Symbolic of the Barry and crew adminstration. Socialism is a viscious circle.

  • Brilliant, taking it down, and putting up a simulation. Genius. Meanwhile, in the 850 bases all over the planet? Absolute PANIC stations. Oh, and oops, no cool weapons with even a prayer of working. Hey! Everyone laugh, right? Kind of like how you do when you watch teevee.

  • Jay Guevara

    Aren’t they supposed to project an image of a bat?

  • Connor

    if this is really… holy crap.. it is a table worm hole that means faster space travle. we can get out ove our sollar sistem …

  • And what are the chances of a PERFECT spiral being created by an out-of-control spinning rocket? Not very likely, methinks…..

  • leave it to the russians to mess up interdimenional travel experiments. Perhaps it was a scheme to acquire bailout money.

  • “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24)

  • Ian

    Isn’t it illegal to test such missiles over a Nato Allie. Yes this is Russia, we are testing missiles to penetrate your defense systems to kill you if need be,we’ll openly admit that. suurrreee

    Haarp and Eiscat

    And look at the patents in this forum here.

    Russian missile hahahahaha