Mysterious Spiral in Alaska’s Sky Solved: Rocket Engine Exhaust from SpaceX Transporter-7 Mission

Over the weekend, a mysterious and strange spiral appeared in the sky over Alaska, adding to the already unusual phenomena seen in the region. The spiral was captured on camera by Todd Salat, a professional aurora hunter, as he was photographing the northern lights. The spiral was accompanied by vibrant green Northern Lights, and it was filmed by cameras at the University of Alaska's Poker Flat Research Range near Fairbanks.[0] The strange whirlpool was seen on the sky of the northern horizon of Alaska, and it amazed people with its whitish-blue color and quick movements.

The spiral was first seen on April 15th, 2023, around midnight local time.[1] It was embedded in the Northern Lights, and it had people in Alaska and Canada who saw it wondering about the celestial pattern.[2] Many people thought it was an alien spaceship or a portal to an alternate universe.[3] However, the mystery was later solved by space physicist Don Hampton, who said that the spiral was “rocket engine exhaust from a SpaceX Transporter-7 mission that launched on the Falcon 9 about three hours earlier in California.”

The spiral was triggered by emissions generated by the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket, which had just launched with the Transporter-7 mission into a polar orbit. The rocket was still gaining altitude when it did a pass-by over Alaska, stunning many night-watchers.[3] The spiral was made up of fuel ejected by the rocket's second stage engine, which froze and caught high-altitude sunlight, effectively glowing and creating the spiral galaxy of a display.

The spiral added to the already unusual phenomena seen in Alaska's sky, including northern lights, fogbows, and moonbows. Elizabeth Withnall, a midwife in Kotzebue, saw the swirl in the sky while waiting to photograph the northern lights around 1:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 15th. She said, “We get a lot of very unusual phenomenon in the sky in the far north.[4] I've seen fog bows and rainbows around the moon.[5] So I just thought, ‘this is some weird thing in the sky, and I don't know what it is, but it's pretty cool'.”[1]

Todd Salat, who captured the spiral on camera, said, “It was a beautiful piece of art in the sky.[6] I would say this was maybe the most bizarre thing I've ever seen in my life.

0. “Ethereal whirlpool of light grows into a giant, perfect spiral above Alaska. What was it?”, 18 Apr. 2023,

1. “Galaxy-like thing over Alaska sky raise eyebrows” The News International, 17 Apr. 2023,

2. “‘I might be hallucinating;’ What was the blue swirl in the sky last weekend?” WHIO, 18 Apr. 2023,

3. “Spiral in the sky amazes Alaskans” Alaska's News Source, 16 Apr. 2023,

4. “Mysterious glowing spiral in the sky over Alaska draws questions, and a simple explanation” Alaska Public Media News, 17 Apr. 2023,

5. “Weather Wise: So “sky spirals” are a thing now” KTVH, 17 Apr. 2023,

6. “Mystery spiral in Alaska sky was likely SpaceX rocket fuel” UPI News, 18 Apr. 2023,

7. “See the mysterious spiral swirling in Alaska sky amid aurora borealis” FOX 13 Seattle, 18 Apr. 2023,

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