As discussed in the July 2010 TWAN Mystery and explained in the SpaceWeather website this mysterious fan shaped bright cloud appeared in a clear evening of June 2007 above Alborz Mountains of Iran. The photographer had never seen a similar phenomenon before. The object started out patchy, shapeless and dim but it quickly brightened and formed a blue-tinted cone with a bright nose. The cloud raced across the sky moving about 20 degrees per minute. In this image the two bright stars in the middle are Castor and Pollux in Gemini, while dazzling planet Venus is on the upper left in conjunction with the Beehive or M44 star cluster in Cancer. The mystery was caused by the launch of Atlas V rocket. On 2007 June 15 sky watchers in the Middle East witnessed this cloud. On that very day an Atlas V rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Its payload was a pair of ocean surveillance satellites. Due to the rocket failure the satellites were deployed into a wrong orbit. When the rocket’s Centaur upper stage vented excess fuel, the cloud shaped above the atmosphere and by reflecting sunlight it was visible in the early evening sky of the Middle East. The dumping of excess fuel is standard practice for Centaur-boosted launches. © Babak Tafreshi



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