This is an updated and corrected version of an article that was written within a few hours of the weird sightings on the 7th of June 2012, more data was uncovered and the picture got clearer, so here's what really happened.
Two nights ago, a mysterious light was seen all over the Middle East, that floating pinwheel of light ignited fear, wonder and perplexity among its observers. Photos and speculations went viral (my personal explanation can be found here), but only one explanation really uncovers the truth: Russia was testing an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile). Cold War much?
|Russia fires ICBM|
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the missile test was launched from the Kapustin Yar firing range in the Astrakhan region in central Russia. An RS-12M traveled across roughly 16,000 Km (1,000 miles) to a range in Kazakhstan with projected accuracy, the test was confirmed as successful by a Russian ministry of defense spokesman. It was spotted in several other countries along the way because it reached a high altitude of almost 300 Km (186 miles). Some people in Astrakhan believed it was a dry thunder or something of the sort.
|The sky in Astrakhan|
However Israel described labeled it as a failed test: "It most likely spun out of control and its remnants and the fuel was what people saw," Israeli Astronomical Association Chairman Dr. Yigal Pat-El said. Here's a video of that night recorded in Russia:
The same 'rotating light' was observed in Norway back in 2009, its explanation was the same as this one; a Russian ICBM, only that time, according to Russia, the test did not go as planned. NBC News space analyst James Oberg states that: "The 'spiral' does not look to me to be a sign of a 'failed missile test' — it has been a common visual feature of Russian missile launches for more than 30 years and seems associated with a roll maneuver to 'dump' unwanted surplus thrust for short-range test flights. Since you can't shut down a solid fuel rocket early, you need to find a way to dump thrust so you don't overshoot a target." Here's a video of the sighting in Norway
Regardless of the test's failure or success, this incident is probably not the last one we'll witness over the next few months; back in February, Russia's armed forces will receive over 400 modern intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), more than 100 military spacecraft and over 2,300 new tanks within the next 10 years, Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin, current president of Russia wrote that: "Russia's armed forces will receive over 400 modern intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), more than 100 military spacecraft and over 2,300 new tanks within the next 10 years."
The US still hasn't replied to Russia's recent space experiments, I don't know if it's ever planning to, anyway, the report I'm waiting for is the one that will prove whether or not the fuel remnants hovering above our heads will affect us!