His photo looks so strange, you might think it is Photoshopped. It’s real. A sequence of images on Yakovlev’s Russian language social media page shows the cloud expanding naturally into the atmosphere.
The instigating missile may have been a Topol ICBM reportedly launched from the Plesetsk space center 800 km north of Moscow toward the Kura test range in Kamchatka. The flight path is about right for a sighting by Yakovlev. Moreover, when Russia test-launched the same type of missile last month, some sky watchers reported unusual clouds then, too.
Perhaps high altitude winds blew some of this blue exhaust west, visually mixing with geomagnetic auroras over Scandinavia. Wright notes that the blue and green lights were indeed moving independently, as if they came from different sources. “I’m leaning toward the rocket explanation,” he says.