Origin of mysterious orb spotted during northern lights now solved

A large glowing orb spotted in the sky amongst the northern lights by a camera trap seems to be frozen fuel from a Chinese rocket.

Published Sun, Apr 10 2022 6:45 AM CDT   |   Updated Mon, May 2 2022 7:25 PM CDT

The strange orb was spotted in the sky around 5 a.m. local time in Alaska on March 29th.

Origin of mysterious orb spotted during northern lights now solved 01 | TweakTown.com

The glowing orb was spotted moving through the sky amongst the northern lights by an automatic camera trap, operated by The Aurora Chasers, Ronn Murray and Marketa Murray, in Fairbanks, Alaska. The orb moved from the northeast to the southwest, appearing much larger than a full moon in the sky, with Fairbanks residents saying, "it seemed like it had something that was spinning inside it."

They also said the orb was taking its time to move across the sky gradually instead of shooting across. The camera trap takes photos every 45 seconds, with the orb appearing in six photos, indicating the orb was visible for at least four and a half minutes.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts, told the local news station, KUAC, that the orb likely resulted from "the dumping of fuel from a Chinese rocket stage." McDowell added on Twitter that the flight path of a two-stage Long March 6 rocket corresponded with the orb's presence. The rocket most likely released its remaining fuel in the atmosphere after delivering satellites to orbit, where it spread out and froze, becoming illuminated by sunlight.

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