Russian residents in the city of Belgorod have been left baffled after a pillar of light was spotted rising into the night sky.
Several possible explanations have been given for the lights, including a Russian laser weapon or a natural phenomenon.
Belgorod is about 25 miles north of the Ukrainian border.
On October 4 and 5, images and videos from residents in Belgorod were posted on social media showing how a yellow beam of light shone high in the dark sky. The sky around the beam also appears to glow yellow.
The source is not clear in any of the images, as buildings usually cover the lower part of the beam before it meets the horizon.
Multiple possible explanations have been proposed as to the cause of the bundle, with many of a military nature given Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
“Peresvet works above Belgorod” He wrote a Twitter user, referring to the Russian Peresvet anti-satellite laser.
Daily Russian tabloid newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda uploaded a video of the light on YouTube and wrote in the description, translated from Russian: “A test of a top-secret weapon or an ordinary natural phenomenon? The people of Belgorod are at a loss.”
A suggestion that the lights may be lasers was published by the Moscow newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets in an online article on October 5. The article claimed that military correspondent Andrei Rudenko had said that the army was using “the latest weapons of the Russian Federation” that day. Rudenko added: “Due to the conditions, it is unlikely that we will know, but many people saw the glow in the sky today.”
This may suggest that the lights could be attributed to the use of the Peresvet laser, but very little is known about it and it is unclear whether it would produce a yellow beam.
According to military news website ArmyRecognition.com, Peresvet is currently in service with the deployment announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018. It can reportedly “blind” satellites at a distance of 930 miles.
However, some social media users also noted that it would be unlikely that a beam aimed at a moving space satellite would be fixed in place and aimed directly upwards.
Another possible source of the lights is a natural phenomenon known variously as a light column or light pillar.
This explanation was proposed by the Russian news agency RBC, which quoted Mikhail Leus, an expert at the Phobos meteorological center, who said, translated from Russian: “In fact, the luminous pillars observed in the sky are an optical phenomenon in the atmosphere. bearing such a name as “luminous column”.
“Pillars of light in the atmosphere are an optical phenomenon, a type of halo created by the refraction of light in ice crystals.”
This can happen when the sun or moon is low above the horizon around sunrise or sunset. Other sources include greenhouses, of which there are plenty in Belgorod, according to local media reports, with some reportedly owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
Russian state media RIA Novosti, citing scientists at Belgorod University, also concluded that the “halos” were likely caused by greenhouses in the area.
Ken Carslaw is a professor at the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science at the University of Leeds in the UK. Newsweekhe also said that this natural phenomenon was a possibility.
“These occur in clouds with flat ice crystals that are aligned horizontally so that they all reflect down in the same direction over a light source,” he said.
“Obviously to see this phenomenon you need ice. Right now it’s about 11C in Belgorod, which means these clouds must be at least 1km above the ground or possibly more – cloud ice usually doesn’t form until much later lower temperatures.
“If there were images showing this beam at much lower altitudes, then I would have no explanation.”
Similar columns of light over Belgorod have been reported in the past—yellow columns stretching across the sky—and have been explained by local media as a meteorological phenomenon, an explanation that seems the most likely in this case as well.
The source of the light beams observed in Belgorod, Russia on October 4 and 5 is unclear, but they are likely meteorological. Meteorologists have confirmed that it is possible the lights are a natural phenomenon, and have been noted in the area in the past. While a Russian newspaper has cited reports of weapons testing, and Russia claims to have top-secret anti-satellite lasers, based on available evidence, this explanation seems unlikely.
FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK