It was not a close encounter of any kind.
A strange blue spiral of light spread across the skies of New Zealand on Sunday, and while some people believed it to be aliens, it was caused by a dying rocket made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
The SpaceX founder launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Globalstar DM15 in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday morning, where it hit New Zealand that evening.
What caused the alien-like light effect was said to be likely caused by a “fuel dump” or “exhaust plume” according to a Facebook post by the New Plymouth Astronomical Society.
“The spiral that was seen in the sky tonight around 7:30 p.m. was most likely a fuel dump or exhaust plume from a SpaceX rocket launch,” the Facebook post read.
“Similar effects have been seen before, and SpaceX’s Globalstar 2 FM15 was likely to have passed New Zealand around that time.”
The theory is that as the rocket’s cargo was released it began to spin and release fuel, which caused a vapor-like stream that reflected sunlight.
The blue swirl itself came from the lit up plume of the rocket.
Some New Zealand residents were amazed by the aerial spectacle.
A star-gazer, Alasdair Burns, focused on how strange it was. “It was absolutely bizarre. It was like a massive spiral. And it very, very slowly, serenely moving north across the night sky and then just sort of dissipating as it went,” he told Stuff.
Augustine Matthews recalled looking at it in awe.
“It looked like a planet or star,” she said. “It was just a white dot with a tiny spiral. And within 10 minutes it had traversed half the sky and the spiral had grown three times in size. It wasn’t blinking or twinkling, and it was moving fairly fast.”
Oddly enough, this is the second time New Zealand has been given a star show because of a rocket. According to the New Zealand Herald, there was a spiral created by a gas release for a Chinese rocket last year on June 18, 2021.