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Kicker: Rocket jellyfish

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WORLD Radio - Kicker: Rocket jellyfish

The vented leftover fuel from a SpaceX rocket creates a light display in the sky


A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launches from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center as seen from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

NICK EICHER, HOST: Recently a Japanese telescope recorded a bright shape in the night sky. The time-lapse video posted to YouTube shows a small white sphere that widens into a very clear, blue spiral.

CONTACT: …I must have gone through a wormhole…

Sorry to say, it’s not a wormhole.

But it is quite an interesting phenomenon. How it works is the sun lights up gasses that come from the rockets during launch at twilight. That’s when observers on earth are able to see the light display, in darkness below.

Typically these formations look like comet tails or often just blobs of gas that seem to hang in place—and that’s why people are calling these things rocket jellyfish.

What’s different this time is the Space X Falcon 9 must be twisting while venting the gas, creating the spiral shape.

REICHARD: I looked it up. It’s amazing!

EICHER: Given that Elon Musk’s behind this, I would’ve guessed he’d have fashioned the blue spiral into a Twitter logo.

It’s The World and Everything in It.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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