Saturday, December 12, 2009

Spectacular spiral in the sky was missile test, not UFO

Daily Tech Observers in northern Norway Wednesday morning witnessed a bizarre spiral appear in the sky at around 7:49 a.m.  They first saw a blue light soar up from over a mountain to a north.  The light then paused in midair and began circling.  Before long, like the closing scene from the Japanese horror film Uzumaki, a massive spiral had filled the air. Then came a brilliant beam of green-blue light which shot out of the center and lasted 10 to 12 minutes, before suddenly vanishing.  Citizens described the bizarre sighting to be like "like a big fireball that went around, with a great light around it" and "a shooting star that spun around and around".  Totto Eriksen, from Tromsø, was walking his daughter Amelie to school when he spotted the strange spectacle.  He describes to VG Nett, "It spun and exploded in the sky.  We saw it from the Inner Harbor in Tromsø. It was absolutely fantastic.  It looked like the moon was coming over the mountain, but then came something completely different" The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooding by calls from concerned citizens wonder what a logical explanation of the phenomena might be.  Celebrity astronomer Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard's early guess later proved prophetic.  He postulated, "My first thought was that it was a fireball meteor, but it has lasted far too long.  It may have been a missile in Russia, but I can not guarantee that it is the answer." A British engineer named Doug Ellison, an animator and multimedia producer for a medical firm in Leicester, jumped in offering a 3D simulation that similarly suggested the bizarre light show was the result of a failed launch.  He made a simulation in 3D Studio Max of a spinning box, which produced a similar spiral trail.  Mr. Ellison, who runs the forum describes, "Once I saw the photos, and knowing a fair amount about space flight, the cause of the beautiful pattern seemed quite obvious to me.  Trying to explain it in layman's terms is quite hard, so I used some basic animation tools to try and emulate the effect.  I bolted two virtual particle emitters onto a small box - spun the box, then moved it at speed and low and behold, the spiral pattern, and the trail behind, both emerged as a result.  The people in northern Norway are lucky to have been in the right place, at the right time!" Indeed, on Thursday the Russian newspaper Vedomosti cited a military source as saying the phenomenon was caused by a failed test launch of a intercontinental missile, dubbed Bulava.  Past launches had failed on the first stage, but this launch reportedly went off without a hitch, before experiencing the strange failure on the third stage.

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