The mysterious cloud spiral that appeared over Norway at 7.50am on Wednesday morning took the internet by storm. Every major news outlet was talking about it and Google Search was stuffed full of results.
Like with any unexplained phenomenon, the knee-jerk reaction of conspiracy theorists (and tabloid press, naturally) was that the beautiful blue-white glowing spiral was either of UFO origin (no, not of the “unidentified kind”, but of the “probing-alien kind”), top secret “energy weapon” origin, LHC origin (yes, the Large Hadron Collider black holes are back) or some other supernatural origin. Well, it would appear that only one of those options are partially correct.
All indications pointed to some kind of Russian naval military missile test (because, um, the Northern Fleet was carrying out missile tests in the White Sea at the time), and Doug Ellison, ace space 3D animator from UnmannedSpaceflight.com, put together a demo of how the missile scenario might have played out in the above animation.
I was captivated by his first animation on the phenomenon that Nancy Atkinson presented in her Universe Today post on the subject, but this new animation shows how a failed rocket stage could spin out of control, spiraling ...