May 07, 2018 I Paul Seaburn

Chinese Government Denies Widely Seen UFO Was a Rocket

When is a UFO not a UFO? When the government says it isn’t. When is something that looks like a rocket launch not a rocket launch? When the government says it isn’t. When is the government lying about a mysterious object in the sky? That’s the question thousands of witnesses in China are asking after seeing what appeared to be a rocket launch that the Chinese government vehemently denies it was not (pictures here). OK, Beijing, then what was it?

"Bizarre scene appeared in the sky over Beijing. Have you seen it?"

The social media posts began immediately after an unidentified flying object appeared over western Beijing, Taiyuan, Zhengzhou, Qingdao and across a wide area of northeastern China on the night of April 27th. Unlike most sightings, these posts included clear pictures and videos of the UFO, which looked suspiciously like the mysterious UFO seen over California on December 23, 2017, that turned out to be a nighttime SpaceX launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The editor of a science website confirmed that the vast area of sightings at the same time showed the object was in the upper atmosphere. However, the lights seemed to change colors and directions that were not indicative of a rocket carrying a satellite payload.

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An example of a high-altitude directional change

The mass speculation didn’t stop the Chinese government from doing what it always does … nothing. This silence came despite the fact that everyone knows the airspace over the country, and especially Beijing, is strictly regulated. Proving that everyone in the world wants to believe, social media sites exploded with the usual comments on aliens, flying saucers and the like. Proving that governments worldwide are more concerned about their image than keeping their people informed, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (a national scientific think tank) and The People's Daily (the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party) issued what now constitutes an official government statement … a tweet.

“The alleged "#UFO" seen in the sky above northern China on Friday evening was a noctilucent contrail, possibly caused by aircraft engine exhaust or air pressure changes, says the Chinese Academy of Science, warning the clouds as a sign of #globalwarming."

A glowing pink contrail … what a relief. Or is it, conspiracy fans? “Noctilucent” (Latin for “night shining”) is used to describe clouds in the upper atmosphere whose altitude makes them visible during the twilight portion of night. This is a new term for the highest known and extremely rare clouds which only occur in the summer (it’s still spring) and only when the conditions include water vapor, dust and very cold temperatures. “Contrail” is short for “condensation trail” ... not “Contrary to what they say, the government is using jets to poison us without fail.” While noctilucent vapor clouds have been linked to space shuttle launches and a few rocket launches, their main causes are believed to be volcanic eruptions and climate change.

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Noctilucent clouds photographed by the crew of the ISS

Despite the facts (not summer, no recent nearby volcanic eruptions, seemingly later than twilight), the Chinese Academy of Sciences stuck with the noctilucent contrail from “aircraft engine exhaust” explanation. All together now … what aircraft?

Proving that governments worldwide don’t like to be asked tough questions … or even seemingly easy ones … there were no further comments.

They probably wouldn’t even like it if some Chinese teens thought “Noctilucent Contrails” would be a great name for their band.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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