Unusual cloud over Iraq - from a rocket launch?

DanielFischer

New Member
In the late evening of 21 June a strangely shaped bright cloud was widely observed over western Iran looking west (first two pictures, from this article) while the next morning the same or another bright cloud was seen from Israel looking east (third picture, from this webcam). Both clouds - especially the 'Israeli' one - look very much like the plume left by a substantial rocket launch, and there are no natural phenomena (like exotic stratospheric clouds, noctilucent clouds or residue from fireballs) that seem to fit the observations. Alas, no rocket launch in that time frame, let alone this part of the world, has been reported so far, and the recently active Iranian launch site is in the the wrong direction for the Iranian images. Ideas how to further investigate this mystery welcome!

E4nT2tXXwAgRO32.jpgiranmystery.jpgearth.jpg
 
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MclachlanM

Active Member
The article you linked seems to clear it up after a bit of google translate
I inquired about the cause of this rare phenomenon from the Deputy Minister of Development and Forecasting of the Kurdistan Meteorological Department. Ali Panahi, pointing out that this type of cloud is formed at a very high altitude, added: "Considering that this phenomenon has been seen in most western cities of the country, according to our estimates, it is formed at an altitude of 30 km above the ground."
He said that the reason for the formation of this type of cloud is the reflection of light in ice crystals and said: in this phenomenon there is hot air in the lower layer and cold air in the upper layer and light is emitted in ice crystals and creates this beautiful phenomenon.

The article translates it to 'night cloud' which I think is suppose to mean Noctilucent cloud:
1624702477450.png

This guardian article attributes a similar looking spiral to Noctilucent clouds as well. https://www.theguardian.com/science/gallery/2012/aug/23/meteorology-cloud-shapes-in-pictures
1624702541379.png
 

DanielFischer

New Member
The Guardian is wrong: This is most certainly not a NLC of the natural kind but the wind-torn plume left by a distant rocket launch. I've discussed the Israel and Iran images with a frequent observer of the latter in the U.S., and he is adamant that this looked very similar. If you want to learn what real NLC look like check out the countless pics in the nightly threads on the German atmospheric optics NLC sub-forum https://forum.meteoros.de/viewforum.php?f=34 - we are in the midst of a pretty active season.
 

Ravi

Active Member
I have seen weird shaped clouds before, and certainly ones that look like a "rocket launch". I would not rule out the possibility they are just NLC. You can not claim that this is impossible! But perhaps you want it to be a rocket launch?
 

Guy Newlan

New Member
The article you linked seems to clear it up after a bit of google translate



The article translates it to 'night cloud' which I think is suppose to mean Noctilucent cloud:
1624702477450.png

This guardian article attributes a similar looking spiral to Noctilucent clouds as well. https://www.theguardian.com/science/gallery/2012/aug/23/meteorology-cloud-shapes-in-pictures
1624702541379.png
This image in my opinion is a rocket launch plume, not an nlc. As for the images of the original subject of this post definitely resemble a rocket exhaust plume. Attached is a pic from my location in Orlando, FL of the lingering exhaust plume from a SpaceX launch. The launch occurred about 1/2 before sunrise, and in this pic the sun was still below the horizon.
 

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Mendel

Senior Member.
Why is it a rocket launch trail and not a windblown contrail/distrail from a jet?
Because the altitude was estimated as 30km, and aircraft don't fly that high.
Duh.

(A spyplane leaving a trail would be bad, right?)
 

Mechanik

Active Member
The third photo in the OP certainly looks like a rocket trail, but Israel doesn’t appear to have launched an orbital spacecraft since 2020. I didn’t spend too much time on it as Google is flooded with articles on the low-altitude rockets with Gaza.

Fact-checking the Guardian could be a full time job, so I’ll just agree that they misidentified a rocket trail as NLC. Residents of Los Angeles are familiar with these trails from Vandenberg AFB. I believe you can find at least one of them here on Metabunk. I thought the Guardian photo was from Vandenberg but now I notice the Saguaro cactus in the foreground. That places the photographer in Arizona or maybe New Mexico.
 
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