A video showing an indistinct object surrounded by a strange display of radiant light waves is being shared on social media claiming that it was filmed in the sky just prior to the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. The unusual footage has captured the attention of many, and people are speculating about what it could be and whether there is any connection to the seismic events. Let’s verify the claim made in the post.
Claim: Visuals of a strange object emitting radiant light waves shortly before the recent earthquakes in turkey and Syria suggesting a possible connection to seismic activity
Fact: Visuals show the ‘Twilight phenomenon’ that occurred during the launch of Falcon 9 rocket’s launch from California in October 2018, when particles from missile or rocket propellant left in the vapor trail of a launch vehicle expand in the upper atmosphere, condense, and freeze. The plume of exhaust suspended in the sky against a dark background is then lit up by the high-altitude sunlight, resulting in a stunning and colourful display visible from the ground. This event has occurred previously on several occasions. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.
A reverse image search of the keyframes extracted from the viral video led us to a YouTube video with the same visuals. This video was uploaded on 09 October 2018 and its description indicates that it documents the Falcon 9 rocket’s launch, which carried Argentina’s Satellite.
Taking a cue from this, we searched further to know more about this event. According to SpaceX, on 08 October 2018, a Falcon 9 rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying the ‘SAOCOM 1A’ satellite into orbit. Several people also shared videos of this mysterious phenomenon at that time. A few of them can be seen here and here.
So, what explains this strange Phenomenon?
According to Forbes, this occurrence is known as the ‘Twilight Phenomenon or Twilight effect’. It occurs when the unburned fuel particles in the rocket trail and water condense, freeze and then expand in the thinner upper atmosphere. Because rocket trails extend high into the stratosphere and mesosphere, they catch high-altitude sunlight long after the sun has set on the ground. The small exhaust particles diffract sunlight and produce pink, blue, green, and orange colours, making the twilight phenomenon all the more spectacular. The phenomenon typically occurs with launches that take place either 30 to 60 minutes before sunrise or after sunset when a booster rocket or missile rises out of the darkness and into a sunlit area, relative to an observer’s perspective on the ground. The picture given below explains this phenomenon.
To sum it up, the visuals shared in the post are old and unrelated to the recent earthquakes in Turkey, and Syria.