Everyone from NPR to Yahoo News is reporting on this phenomenal spiraling light show that appeared over Alaska recently as part of a Northern Lights Display. But it’s not a purely natural phenomena, it’s man made. And how can this be safe?
Northern light enthusiasts got a surprise mixed in with the green bands of light dancing in the Alaska skies: A light baby blue spiral resembling a galaxy appeared amid the aurora for a few minutes.
The cause early Saturday morning was a little more mundane than an alien invasion or the appearance of a portal to the far reaches of the universe. It was simply excess fuel that had been released from a SpaceX rocket that launched from California about three hours before the spiral appeared.
Sometimes rockets have fuel that needs to be jettisoned, said space physicist Don Hampton, a research associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.
“When they do that at high altitudes, that fuel turns into ice,” he said. “And if it happens to be in the sunlight, when you’re in the darkness on the ground, you can see it as a sort of big cloud, and sometimes it’s swirly.”
“Sometimes rockets have fuel that needs to be jettisoned…” Why the fuck? We are embarking on an enormous effort to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change on a worldwide basis. An effort that will change how we all live and work and maybe where we live and work as well. But in the meantime we are accepting rockets releasing a volatile fuel into the upper atmosphere? Well I find it hard to believe that’s a healthy activity. [sarcasm alert] I hope it’s gluten free! [end sarcasm].
But maybe we can stop worrying about climate change if we just poison enough of the air before then.