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Weird Giant Spiral Seen in Sky over Norway

Light in the sky over Norway, see at 7:50 am local time. Photo: Jan Petter Jørgensen via Vaeret

Light in the sky over Norway, see at 7:50 am local time. Photo: Jan Petter Jørgensen via Vaeret

Apparently, this is not a Photoshopped image, as there are several more just like it, taken from various locations. This morning in northern Norway, people saw a strange light in the sky which shocked residents and so far, the phenomenon has yet to be explained. This picture was taken from a pier, looking to the east, approximately at 07.50 am local time. “I can imagine that it went on for two, three minutes,” said the photographer Jan Petter Jørgensen. “It was unbelievable. I was quite shaken when I saw it.”

The spiral as seen over Borras, Norway.  Via Altaposten.no

The spiral as seen over Borras, Norway. Via Altaposten.no

“It consisted initially of a green beam of light similar in colour to the aurora with a mysterious rotating spiral at one end,” said another eyewitness, Nick Banbury of Harstad, quoted on Spaceweather.com. “This spiral then got bigger and bigger until it turned into a huge halo in the sky with the green beam extending down to the earth. According to the press, this could be seen all over northern norway and must therefore have been very high up in the atmosphere to be seen hundreds of km apart.”

Here’s a link to a video of the spiral forming.

“[A popular] suggestion at the moment is that it was a rocket shot up by a Russian submarine in the White Sea, but the Russians deny this apparently. A big mystery indeed!”

UPDATE (Dec. 10): Russia has finally admitted a missile accident with the Bulava ICBM. This rocket already has failed six of 13 previous tests, according to the BBC, so Russia might have been a little embarrassed about it. See our additional article the on “Norway Spiral.”

According to NRK, there were advance warnings about several Russian missile launches from the White Sea from December 7-10, but an anonymous source in the Northern Fleet said they had no information about the incident. Press Attaché from Russia’s Embassy in Oslo, Vladimir Isupov, did not have any immediate information that could explain the light phenomenon over Northern Norway.

UPDATE: Doug Ellison from UnmannedSpaceflight.com did a very cool simulation of a tumbling rocket stage throwing out unspent fuel in two directions, and what it would look like. The question, though would be how the spiral of fuel was lit. It possibly could have been back-lit by the soon-to-rise sun.

Another eyewitness said, “We saw it from the Inner Harbor in Tromsø. It was absolutely fantastic. It almost looked like a rocket that spun around and around, and then went diagonally down the heavens. It looked like the moon was coming over the mountain, but then came something completely different, “said Totto Eriksen.

We’ll keep you posted on any explanations that come out on this!

I also received a report today from a geophysicist in Papua, Indonesia who observed “an enormous flare (bolide?) visible here at Tomage (2°39’27″S 132°59’27″E), and the sighting was at a bearing approximately 165 (East of South) and the flare seemed to begin at about 30 degrees above the horizon.” Paul Anderson said the date and time of the flare was approximately 2009.12.09 12:39 UTC

“I have seen meteors all my life but this was extraordinarily bright and lit up the sky. Not sure what the trajectory was aside from a slight (15 degrees, perhaps) trend to the West but this should probably be known
somewhere. My guess is it entered steeply from the North,” he said.

Anyone else in or near Indonesia see anything similar?

Sources: Vaeret, Altaposten, NRK, Spaceweather.com


Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • hcvslayer December 10, 2009, 12:57 AM

    Not too complicated, a dihedral ray sent through a newform tesla coil – energy through copper or other alloy compound pyramid, base at edge of tesla coil point, point of pyramid to your point of aim.. charged dihedral ray point of ignition in atmoshere..you guess charge and combustion or action phase. Make these smaller, more powerful ( right charge and right alloy) mount in back of ford f350, batteries and generator, solar rechargeable, mobile artillery for the poor…jez kidding…dihedral ray, it is obvious the f$&^% govt finally figgered it out only bigger. I can figger it out as can you, there really is nothing new under the sun…love rudy

  • ivar December 10, 2009, 10:17 AM

    I saw the spiral at 13.00(GTM) today over Astana(capital of Kazakhstan). The rocket still flies?

  • Olaf December 10, 2009, 11:54 AM

    First It is not close, it is just zoomed in a lot.
    Second, a rocket spinning around in one direction will create a show like this. Imagine one of it steering flaps to be stuck to the left. It will start to spin in a crock screw like you see here. The rocket is probably flying away from the viewers.

  • BillZBubb December 10, 2009, 4:19 PM

    A lot of interesting theories have come out. Everything from aliens to black holes from the supercollider. But consider the following theory, and apply Occam’s Razor.

    A liquid fueled rocket suffers damage to a liquified oxygen tank, and begins to leak. As the pressurized oxy container leaks, the rocket is rising, and the pressure outside the rocket is decreasing much more rapidly than the pressure of the oxy cell… thus the relative pressure ratio is increasing.. accounting for an ever increasing velocity of the fuel leaking from the tank, thus causing a plume that, as the rocket climbs higher and higher.. gets ever larger. At the same time, one trait of ballistic missiles is that they, like a bullet, rotate in flight, which increases flight stability. So, as the rocket is climbing, spewing an ever increasing spray of fuel, and rotating… it makes a spiral plume.

  • robrecord December 10, 2009, 6:57 PM


    How is the blue/green light explained?

    And, isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that the effect is exactly head-on to all the viewers, which look to be in different locations by the look of the landscapes in each shot?

  • Boner December 10, 2009, 8:23 PM

    I don’t want to sound crazy but I saw something really weird in Australia within a few hours of that spiral. 80 degrees from the horizon there was giant ball of white light flash without sound and no sign of a meteor trail. If the Russians don’t admit to it being their test launch then its possible there’s even more strange stuff going down.

  • robrecord December 10, 2009, 8:38 PM

    CNN reported about the strange blue spiral over Norway that: “The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed the Russian Navy launched a Bulava ballistic missile on the same day, but has declined to make any connection with the lights seen over Norway.”

  • ivar December 11, 2009, 7:27 AM

    Many people in russian city Ufa,Perm,Tcheliabinsk saw it yesterday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGaeV5NoUnU ,,, I observed how the spiral moved to me from the sky,,,about 60-70 degrees over horisont from west side.This lasted several seconds, but was such- as in norway.
    Video from northern Kazakstan Yavlenka village http://kiwi.kz/watch/w189h9rvftfj

  • getready4Jesus December 11, 2009, 9:52 AM

    Luke 21 Jesus predicted signs in the sky as well as roaring of seas as a strong indication that believers should “look up, lift up your head, for your redemption draws near”.

    God is good

  • getready4Jesus December 11, 2009, 9:54 AM

    When you see these things begin to come to pass…

  • BillZBubb December 11, 2009, 11:20 AM

    Robrecord… the bluegreen light could be caused by any number of things, Who can predict with certainty what the atmosphereic conditions, the nature of the leaked oxydizer, and many other factors, might have caused in the way of the color. Why is the northern lights red at one time, blue the next?

    As for the perspective seeming to be the same for people all over Norway… that is quite simply evidence if the distance in which it was from those who viewed it. About 15 years ago, I saw what appeared to be an airliner falling from the sky in flames. I could see a MASSIVE fireball as well as what appeared to be pieces breaking off of the object, and burning up in the tail plume. Streaked across the sky, from south horizon to north horizon in about 4 seconds. It appeared to be only 4 or 5 miles to the east of us. As it turned out, it was a soviet satellite entering the atmosphere and burning up. However the appearance of being right on top of us was so real that from Lousiana, to Iowa, fire departments scrambled and, as in my hometown, drove east several miles looking for a crashed aircraft. All thru those states, the perspective was virtually identical, everyone saw the same thing and it appeared to be in the same relative position… but it was not, and was in fact hundreds of miles away, and travelled 1500 miles in those 3 to 4 seconds. This object appeared to be in the same position in the sky (everyone thought it to be 4 to 5 miles east of their position) to people over a MUCH larger area than Norway occupies. The further up and away something is, the more it appears to be at the same place to people over a wider area. Take, as an example the moon itself, as it is rising or setting. How far do you think you would need to travel for it’s perspective angle to change in any noticable way? Hundreds of miles is the answer.

    Sorry, the answer is mundane, and not as sexy as the idea that we are gonna die from a black hole, or that aliens did it… but it is the simplest possible explanation for the event.

  • Olaf December 11, 2009, 3:13 PM


    The different colour, is simple, the green/blue part is the real burnt rocket exhaust, the white is the either the oxygen or hydrogen that is escaping through the side of the rocket through a rupture making it an unintentional jet making the rocket spin. in a spiral.

    They all look moving in the same direction on the sky even when taken in completely different locations because it is very far and video camera’s used big tele zooms. Notice the camera shake and the zooms in the video’s

  • writermike December 12, 2009, 1:35 AM

    You’ll never believe this, but it was the first attempt to form a uniform event horizon contained in a faraday collar. they peed on themselves and shut it down .

  • iluvchristmas December 12, 2009, 11:46 AM

    Couldn’t have been a ballisitc missile because:

    If it was ballisitc missile producing anyshape identifiable by men on earth it would have been during the inicial (boost) phase. As this phase lasts typically about 120 seconds, if the so-called rocket leaked (as government declared earlier) the duration would have been shorter and thus unable to explain the 3 or more minutes in which the spiral was sustained in the sky.

  • iluvchristmas December 12, 2009, 12:28 PM

    maybe a change in earth’s electromagenetic field…
    ei…aurora borealis mutated

  • ND December 12, 2009, 1:02 PM

    According to this article’s Russian source the first two stages worked, it was the third stage that failed. That most likely put the failed rocket above the atmosphere.




  • Azaka December 12, 2009, 2:10 PM

    Now I am just a gardener, but I am up on some space things, I am pretty sure that on a SOLID FUELED ICBM you wil get no O2 or H fuel and so it wil not be that which has leaked.

    Shame on you space o philes, get it right.

    Tho maybe the solid fuel leaked out?

    HAARP sounds good to me, and the russian thing is a blind IMO.

  • ND December 13, 2009, 1:02 AM


    If you’ll remember the Challenger accident, it was caused by hot gas leak from the side of one of the solid rocket boosters. The faulty O-ring allowed the gas to escape. I’m guessing here, but a hot gas leak from the solid rocket would be escaping at a rather fast speed, which could explain the rapidly expanding white spiral.

  • IVAN3MAN December 13, 2009, 3:31 PM


    HAARP sounds good to me, and the russian thing is a blind IMO.

    Maybe you should try looking without that tin-foil hat covering your eyes!

  • shinji_dai December 16, 2009, 5:16 PM

    Bah…simplest answer isn’t always the best…I don’t care what Occam’s Razor says.

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