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SATURDAY, 19 APR 2014
03:04 PM Beirut time
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Mysterious spiral of light prompts speculation over its nature
A YouTube screenshot of the mysterious object
A YouTube screenshot of the mysterious object
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BEIRUT: A mysterious swirling spiral of light seen in the skies over Lebanon, Syria and Jordan late Thursday sparked a flood of speculation over the nature of the nighttime event, including that it may have been a UFO sighting.

Carrying numerous videos of the luminous body, social media sites such as Twitter included posts claiming the speck of light was an Unidentified Flying Object.

Other Twitter reports suggested that the lights in the sky represented a good omen for Syria’s revolution while others suggested that it signaled the use of chemical weapons.

“Luminous objects and meteor bursts appeared over north Lebanon, Marjayoun, the Bekaa and the Syrian-Turkish border,” the LBCI network reported that.

The trail of light was also reported in Armenia, Turkey and Cyprus.

Coming only a day after Venus’ transit of the Sun, some claimed the unidentified object was not a UFO but the remains of a meteorite, with its fragmented pieces creating a dust trail that glowed behind it.

Speaking to The Daily Star, Roger Hajjar of the Lebanese Astronomy Group, who did not view the sighting first hand, said he could not confirm whether it was astrological or a man-made phenomenon.

“Judging from what you see in the YouTube clips it does not appear to be a meteor or any astrological phenomenon. For example, the speed at which the object was traveling was too slow for a meteor,” he said.

“However, since I did not witness the event I cannot confirm whether it was an astrological or man-made phenomenon,” he added.

However, the explanation that has gained most support is that the object was a Russian ballistic missile.

The Voice of Russia radio station’s website reported Friday that Russia had conducted a successful test of the Topol Intercontinental ballistic missile from the firing ground at Kapustin Yar in Astrakhan, south Russia. The radio station said the test saw the missile accurately hit its target on the firing range of Sary-Shagan in Kazakhstan.

Quoting Russia’s Defense Ministry, the radio said the exercise was aimed at checking the stability of the basic performance characteristic of this class of missile.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 09, 2012, on page 2.
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