On Thursday night, a massive ball of light illuminated the sky above the town of Salekhard, in Russian Siberia.  Selekhard, which lies above the arctic circle, is no stranger to glowing lights in the night sky above them, and many residents had even settled in for a pleasant evening of watching the Northern Lights when the ball of light appeared above them.

Soon, pictures of this decidedly unnatural looking event began pouring onto social media platforms, as residents coupled the images with their own theories as to what it could possibly be.  Aliens, time travel, and even a tear in the fabric of space-time were all pitched as possible explanations for the strange light, until an announcement on the official Russian Ministry of Defense Facebook account the following day seemed to suggest it was the result of an ICBM test launch.

On October 26, in accordance with the Training Plan of the Russian Armed Forces, Strategic Nuclear Forces held training.  Means of ground, naval, and air Strategic Nuclear Forces of the Russian Federation were involved in the training.” The Ministry wrote. “Strategic Missile Forces fired a #Topol missile from the Plesetsk State Test Cosmodrome at the Kura range.”

The Topol is an intercontinental ballistic missile with an operational range of nearly 7,000 miles.  According to the Russian statement, it had to cover less than 4,000 miles in order to reach the vicinity of Selekhard, where the unusual occurrence in the night sky was spotted; well within its operational range.  The question remains, however, how did the missile create such an unusual light show in the sky above the Russian populous?

Videos of the event have also found their way onto the internet, showing the massive ball of light as it begins to fade from the night sky.  Some of these pictures and videos were from locations as far away as Strezhevoi, in the north of the Tomsk region; meaning the massive ball of light was visible in communities more than 500 miles away.

The Russian government has not formally acknowledged that their missile test caused the unusual light show in the skies above Siberia, but its trajectory and timeframe make it seem likely that the two events were connected.  It had also been previously reported that Thursday night might offer a particularly spectacular demonstration of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, in that region.  It may be possible that the two events coalesced in an unusual fashion, creating the spectacular sight.