We observed a bright, slow moving (in our view for several minutes) large object that eventually left large bright contrails. This was over Northern New Mexico at around 7:29 PM MST. The object was moving from north west to south east. We do have crappy video.

Wasn't it maybe a Falcon Heavy test flight?

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    $\begingroup$ Ooh can you post the video? $\endgroup$
    – BruceWayne
    Feb 8, 2018 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ Just think, our descendants will be as oblivious to this kind of scene as we are to jets passing overhead. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Feb 8, 2018 at 19:26

3 Answers 3


If it looked something like this:

enter image description here

...then what you saw was very likely the 3rd burn of the second stage of the Falcon Heavy test flight, which sent the Roadster into orbit around the sun. The burn lasted several minutes, and was seen from southern California, New Mexico, Mexico, and Arizona.

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    $\begingroup$ I've never heard of an engine burn in space causing such a visible plume. Did this happen due to it happening at local dusk? $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Feb 8, 2018 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ Can I just say congratulations to the photographer for such a good photo? $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Feb 8, 2018 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ That was it. It was quite spectacular actually. I am glad I got to see it. $\endgroup$
    – MT Hensley
    Feb 8, 2018 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn The Apollo lunar flights would make trans-lunar injection burns from low earth orbit that were also very bright. Not sure if their plume was this marked, though. $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2018 at 19:36

Numerous reports of the same observation were made last evening at that time. News outlets are stating that this was indeed the second stage of the Falcon Heavy performing its final burn stage.

Falcon Heavy Final Burn Observations In Arizona at 7:30 PM MST


These are rare but have been occurring since the dawn of the space age. Here are two recent reports I've done on exactly this visual phenomenon. http://satobs.org/seesat_ref/misc/Space_clouds-Strange_Spinoff_of_the_Space_Age.pdf http://satobs.org/seesat_ref/misc/tomsk_spiral_ufo_2006.pdf


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