The rising gas plume lit up the sky over Nelson, a city on the tip of New Zealand’s South Island, and moved 750km south to Stewart Island around 7:30pm on Sunday.
And the residents of the South Island discovered that the strange astronomical phenomenon was caused by a rocket carrying satellites launched by Elon Musk’s “SpaceX” company.
When the missile released its payload, it circulated and later vented the fuel, causing a vapor trail that reflects sunlight, creating a blue vortex.
The New Plymouth Astronomical Society said the fuel discharge was the most likely cause of the remarkable vortex.
“The helix seen in the sky tonight around 7:30 p.m. was most likely a fuel dump or an exhaust plume from a SpaceX rocket launch,” the association added in a Facebook post.
The stunning blue snail was an unusual sight for thousands of New Zealanders.
Alasdair Burns, one of the stars of Stewart Island, said the snail was the strangest thing he had ever seen.
“It was quite strange, it was like a huge vortex, moving very slowly and quietly north through the sky,” he added.
Augustine Matthews from Mapua said she ran outside to watch snails with her husband.
She added: It looked like a planet or a star, it was just a white dot with a small vortex. Within 10 minutes, it crossed half the sky, increasing its size three times.
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