Skygazers from Lebanon to Armenia flooded police hotlines Thursday night with reports that a bright, spiraling UFO was illuminating the night skies. Then came the YouTube videos. Uninformed, ad hoc commentary on whether the lights were a good omen for Syria's revolution, or a bad one soon followed.

Then Russia came along and rained on everyone's parade. Writes Cosmic Log's Alan Boyle:

The actual explanation is almost certainly more mundane: The Voice of Russia reported that the country's Strategic Missile Forces conducted a test of the Topol ICBM from the Kapustin Yar firing range near Astrakhan in southern Russia on Thursday. Such a launch could theoretically be seen from areas of the Middle East and the Caucasus.

Citing a report from RIA Novosti, the radio service said the missile "accurately hit its target" in a Kazakh firing range. However, Ynetnews quoted Yigal Pat-El, chairman of the Israel Astronomical Association, as saying the missile "most likely spun out of control, and its remnants and the fuel was what people saw."

In brief: rest easy friends. It's not a UFO; it's just an out-of-control ICBM.

[Via Cosmic Log]

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