On December 9, 2009, Scandinavians from both Norway and selected areas of Sweden witnessed a strange, yet magnificent, display that had the world abuzz. It started with a celestial white light moving across the sky. The light became a glowing spiral that grew larger and came to a point. It then opened up into what looked like a hole in the night sky. The bizarre Norwegian spiral event spawned a frenzied 24-hour-long mystery in which even the wildest of theories now seemed plausible.
The Buzz of the Norwegian Spiral
Everyone wondered what on earth could have caused the spectacular, albeit disconcerting, show. Some people argued that there is nothing on this planet that is remotely capable of doing this. These folks were thinking in terms of UFOs, black holes, intergalactic wormholes, Planet X, etc.
This has to be some kind of top-secret Russian experiment. The only thing I can think of that’s ever looked anything like the event in Norway is your average television and movie depiction of a wormhole. That would explain the swirling, that would explain the beam of light coming from it, and that would explain the sudden and unexplained disappearance. And that’s about the only kind of crazy explanation that makes any sense.
A number of people pointed to the coincidence of the celestial event with Obama’s visit to Oslo. One commentator joked that perhaps it confirms that Obama is the Messiah. Others wondered about his connection to alien life and whether this could be a message on their part.
On the other hand of the theory bandwagon, many officials that scrutinized the video footage firmly believed that humans are quite capable of pulling this off – albeit unintentionally.
An Out-of-Control Missile
Initially, there were a few folks who were sure they were looking at a missile gone awry. It was common knowledge that the Russian missile-program was having issues that they needed to iron out. Additionally, there had been rumors that test launches would be occurring at the time of the sighting.
Unofficial accounts insisted that six of the thirteen known Russian missile tests had failed or did not go according to plan. It is interesting to note that prior to the anomaly, a no-fly message was issued using NavTex for both aerial and shipping traffic to avoid the area. But Russia denied any involvement in the event, and this left everyone scrambling for answers, as social media and the Internet lit up with discussions and posts.
Particle Collision Mishap
People wondered if the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, also known as CERN, had caused the Norwegian spiral and opened up a black hole. After all, there had been much fear and speculation that the microscopic black holes caused by the collision of particles could grow to become a massive black hole that could swallow the earth. The reality is that they can’t. Nonetheless, in the Norwegian video, after the spiral phase, it appears that a hole is opening up. However, this theory, too, lost all gravity when the spectacle dissipated and Earth survived.
Another suggestion about the cause of this anomaly is an intentional light projection onto the sky. While this might occur at concerts or other public events, nothing has come close to the size of the Norwegian spiral. Although it was a plausible possibility, there would have surely been some advertising before the fact.
The governmental program called HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program) was also suspect. The program involves the world’s most advanced “high-power, high-frequency transmitter” operating in the High-Frequency range. Their aim is to study the ionosphere using the Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI) by first exciting an area of the ionosphere. (University of Alaska).
Naturally Occurring Phenomena
There were yet more people who believe that the Norwegian spiral was neither a missile test launch nor a new attempt at extra-terrestrial superiority. They contended that this was some form of natural event that, while rare, happened at the right time in the right place for hundreds of people to capture.
The Birkeland Current
One thing that might cause naturally occurring oddities in the night sky is something called a Birkeland current. This is a magnetic field that is aligned in the magnetosphere. It flows toward Earth on the dawn side of the planet and into space on its dusk side. When it is visible, the filaments appear “rope-like.”
The result of this field can create some interesting atmospheric displays. Although it is not the direct cause of the Aurora Borealis, it does affect it. Birkeland current can cause “auroral curls” or twists and spirals. A few people also questioned whether the Aurora Borealis might cause the Norwegian spiral. But because nobody had ever seen the Borealis create a spectacle like that, the theory evaporated quickly. Tromso Air Traffic Control officials dismissed any astronomical event as the cause because “the light show lasted for too long.”
Russian Failed Excercise
On December 10, the Russian Ministry of Defense came forward and announced that they may have been responsible for the exciting atmospheric show. Their submarine was in the White Sea testing their Bulava Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, however, as noted, they were having redundant issues. In this instance, the exhaust nozzle broke during the third stage, sending the missile into a spin. The white cloudy spirals are the rocket propellant escaping into the atmosphere.
Why didn’t the Russians just tell everyone upfront? The media speculated that they may have been embarrassed to admit the technical failures. Also, perhaps the worldwide media frenzy was an entertaining show for the Russians as well and, instead of coming forward quickly, they thought they would ride the wave of sensationalism just a bit longer.
A Russian defense analyst said that “such lights and clouds appear from time to time when a missile fails in the upper layers of the atmosphere and have been reported before … At least this failed test made some nice fireworks for the Norwegians.”