Location: North Pole, AK, USA
Duration: 30 seconds
No of observers: 1
Reported: 2002-02-06 03:04:21 Pacific
Posted: 2002-02-22 00:00:00
'Rocket boosters' over North Pole AK
I was watching a fantastic northern lights show tonight when I saw condensed light out of the corner of my eye. I looked up to see a cigarish light moving across the sky. I was fortunate in that I was holding binoculars at the time and was able to focus in on the object as is tracked from north to south. The light was actually flame as one would think a pair of rocket boosters would produce. I watched it move for maybe fifteen more seconds and then the 'boosters' went out and as they did an orangish glow remained for an instant (there was a shape momentarily visible in the afterglow that reminded me of a branding iron pointing directly at me shaped like a square with a cross through the center) and then the entire object disappeared into the night. I can guess latXlong and make a sketch if requested via email.
((QUERY TO WITNESS))
Dear Ms. ((name deleted)),
Thank you very much for the excellent report! In fact, we received one other report from Fairbanks.
From your description, I wonder whether the event might have been caused by a rocket launch of some kind. Are you able to make a telephone call, or two, to establish whether that might have been the cause? I suspect a call to the FAA would resolve the issue fairly quickly, since any facility launching a missile would have to apprise the FAA of the event.
If you find out what the cause was, I would be most grateful if you could drop us a note. We will add it to your report.
((FOLLOW-UP MESSAGE FROM SAME WITNESS))
I did phone the FAA (ATC at FAI) this evening and was told that the research facility out at Poker Flats (an atmospheric research center about 30 miles north of my home) was potentially active at that time (the NOTAM filed by Poker Flats is open-ended) though none of the same staff was on tonight so we we're unable to verify. Poker Flats does apparently occasionally launch small rockets into the atmosphere for research. The FAA employee also stated that the research does "effect the Northern Lights" which may have something to do with the good lights show last night (actually now I'm more interested by that... ;) The specs would certainly seem to line up with where and what I saw. Thank you for your reply and suggestion. All the best to you.
Warmly, ((name deleted))
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