On June 15th, sky watchers around Iran witnessed a strange and luminous cloud in the night sky. "I have never experienced a similar phenomena," reports veteran astronomer Babak A. Tafreshi of Tehran. Observing alongside two other astronomers, Oshin Zakarian and Pouria Nazemi, he took this picture:
"The object started out patchy, shapeless and dim; it quickly brightened and formed a blue-tinted cone with a nose of magnitude -2 or -3," he says. The cloud raced across the sky "moving about 20 degrees per minute."
"It was shining blue and moving fast," agrees Amir Hossein Abolfath, another witness from Tehran, who snapped this picture. "Twenty minutes after I saw it, my friend Asghar Kabiri saw the same cloud 900 km away from Tehran in Sa'adat shahr."
The cloud resembles the explosion of a partially-fueled Russian Briz-M rocket booster over Australia in February 2007. Likewise, this could be the re-entry and explosion of a derelict rocket, or it may be related to the June 15th launch of an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral.