© Biysk
A strange-shaped cloud materialised in the early morning sky above Siberia just minutes after the launch of a rocket sending satellites into space. Glowing orange as it was touched by the rays of the rising sun, it cast a ghostly spectre against the clear winter sky.

For a while it was unclear what had caused the trails of vapour over the southern Altai region, with many even speculating about the possibility of UFOs.

However, while no official confirmation has been given, it was almost certainly made by parts of the rocket falling to earth as it powered into orbit. Indeed experts have said that it is consistent with the second stage disengagement.

The Altai region is close to where the Proton-M rocket blasted off from its launch site in nearby Kazakhstan, with space debris regularly landing there. It was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrone at 6.16am on December 15, carrying a Yamal-401 satellite.
A number of residents in the city of Barnaul, on the banks of the River Ob, took photos and videos of the subsequent glowing patterns, and uploaded them to social media. Extremely cold weather is required to create the clouds, with vapour from the hot falling debris meeting the freezing air.

Natalia Pavlova, the head of the Barnaul planetarium, said the patterns could have been caused by the rocket launch, but stressed falling meteors was another explanation.

Residents in Siberia and Urals are becoming used to seeing mysterious lights in the sky.

Comment: Indeed, Siberia's vast, open expanse - coupled with the availability of camera technology - has seen a number of spectacular meteor fireball events in recent years. See this recent one, for example: Enormous overhead meteor explosion? Strange glow in the sky turns night into day in the Urals, Russia

Meteorites, missiles, a plane crash, and even extra-terrestrial activity were among the many theories put forward to explain the incident on November 14.