Strange lights over Norway

April 5th, 2019 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Famed Arctic and aurora photographer Ole C Salomonsen has reported in the last hour strange lights over Tromso, Norway. Ole says the sight is the “weirdest stuff I’ve seen”.

I’ve taken the liberty of increasing the brightness of two of the images he posted:

Strange lights in the sky photographed by famed aurora photographer Ole Salomonsen around midnight, Saturday April 6 2019 from Tromso, Norway.

I can’t imagine what this is, but I suspect it’s related to some sort of rocket-borne experiment. But the spatial distribution of the lights is very strange. I assume Ole will update us with time lapse photography in the near future.

UPDATE: Frank Olsen, also in Norway, posted the following photo, and said that this was indeed rocket-borne experiments containing special chemicals:

Photo by Frank Olsen, Norway.

18 Responses to “Strange lights over Norway”

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  1. Kristian says:

    Cool! That’s my home town. At 69 40’N. Didn’t see these particular lights myself last night, but did see auroras – Tromso is one of the northern light hot spots of the world, after all.

    • Kristian says:

      Here’s how the Andoya Space Center (located in Northern Norway, in a direct line about 120 km WSW of Tromso) dryly explained the event on their facebook page, 6h ago:

      NASA Sounding Rockets Program Office and Andoya Space Center launched two sounding rockets in the AZURE project tonight at 2214 UTC.

      The two vehicles were launched two minutes apart, eventually reaching 320 km altitude while releasing a visible gas to investigate conditions inside the aurora borealis. Ground stations then monitored the movement of the gas.

      In the end, a spectacular case with a sadly unremarkable resolution …

    • wert says:

      Troms and hot in the same sentence. Global warming not so far yet. Will need a ten degree warming before we call Troms briefly hot. 🙂

      • wert says:

        Tromso is missing its Norwegian letter, sorry.

        I love it when I type : ) I get 🙂 and when I type ; – ) I get 😉

        It appears something reformats a smiley as an utf emoji, but then the web page declares the utf bytes as latin-8859-1. Lovely. I so long for the times when o + / was just a font level thingy and Americans hadn’t yet totally messed up the European letters.

        For Christ’s sake, there is no effing localized computer program that would work flawlessly. Letters break, translations suck, and internationalizations fail to take account the properties of European languages, let alone the 6000 languages of the world.

        I’d accept it from small companies, but MS and Google both really ef up localizations. Apple is mostly OK, though pretty annoying sometimes – you can translate the system so efficiently it becomes impossible google for help. Or translate programming language. Syntax error if your locale is wrong. And oh boy when you import data and your locale disagrees about the decimal point (yeah didn’t parse, expected comma).

        • John F. Hultquist says:

          Did you miss your meds?

          I remember when our phones reached an operator, who would plug us into the phone number we wanted. We had a multi-party line and about once each week I would run to a house 3 doors down and call out to the person inside to hang her phone up. Those were the good old days.

          • wert says:

            True, those were the days I miss. A typewriter with scandic letters and a pulse dial phone in a network with automatic routers.

            No effing UTF-8. Seven bit, parity none.

    • Svante says:

      Just curious Kristian, do you have any relation with the oil/gas industry?

  2. pochas94 says:

    The six sided symmetry suggests ice crystals.

  3. Jim Bowen says:

    Check out for Monday, Apr 8 (already posted, though it is still Apr 7 here) for more info. It says the clouds are “trimethyl aluminum and a barium/strontium mixture to visually track the flow of neutral and charged particles” in the ionosphere.

    Back in about 1974 or 1975, from a vantage point in Flemington, NJ, I was fortunate to see a roughly linear array of similar expanding blue clouds produced by a rocket launch from Wallops Island. I took a picture, a color slide I think, but I have no idea how to post it on the web. There were other photos of the event that were published at that time. That was only one of a series of similar launches that were occurring in that era.

  4. Hopefully, you will update with time-lapse photography in the near future.

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