IT appeared over the skies of Siberia on Friday.
A deeply unsettling pale-blue glowing orb.
Against a sparkling, star-filled backdrop washed with the green hues of the northern lights - it was a spectacular sight.
It was captured by photographers scattered across a large swath of Siberia - all out on the clear night to capture the enticing glow of the pulsing aurora borealis.
What was it?
HERE BE ALIENS?
"The glowing ball rose from behind the trees and moved in my direction."
The pulsing orb moved overhead, and eventually vanished.
"Kids walking in the yard emotionally began to tell me about an unusual phenomenon, using the words 'aliens', 'the portal to another dimension' and the like …" Anisimov said.
The out-of-this-world experience had a deep impact upon all who saw it.
"I went out to smoke a cigarette and thought it was the end of the world," witness Vasily Zubkov wrote on Russia's social media website VK.
Anastasia Boldyreva simply posted: "Aliens arrived."
Another declared: "It's a gap in the space-time continuum."
Turns out, none of the above accurately reports what they saw.
Russia's Ministry of Defence at the weekend declared President Vladimir Putin had that night personally controlled the launch of a series of nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles.
These rose into the skies from the Arctic Ocean's Barents Sea, the Okhotsk Sea north of Japan, and the Plestek Cosmodrome in the west.
The glowing orb was actually the rocket plume from a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile fired from Plestek. It was burning high as it crossed Siberia towards the Kura weapons testing range in Russia's far east.
Its slowly dissipating exhaust - being so high above the atmosphere - captured a ghostly reflection of the Sun's rays shortly after sunset below.
"In the absence of air to mess things up, in space things happen much more symmetrically and mathematically than we are used to down here on Earth ... If the sunlight catches it just right, that bubble can be visible."
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