The forecast in Poland for Dec. 19, 2011, called for a strange, rod-shaped cloud with glowing edges to span the entire skybowl, like a massive airborne snake with a broom handle shoved up its GI tract. Or so I'd like to think after watching this footage of such a cloud over Rybnik, the origin of which is now the subject of much Internet Speculation.
Pardon the disco soundtrack; Poland just can't seem to help itself.
Some people think it's the plume from a rocket launch or satellite reentering the atmosphere. Others see a smoke track left by a large meteor. The chemtrail fanatics have their unorthodox views, of course. And there's always the possibility that the Eye of Sauron has sent out an incendiary death ray. Anybody feeling hot right now?
But you know what: This airy brushstroke is probably, no, almost definitely an airplane contrail, those tubes of jet exhaust that are slightly warming the weather around the planet. Look. You can even see a strobe light. The incandescent patches in the body of the trail are likely due to golden sunlight filtering through from the horizon.
Nice try, Europe. Stick to your alarming mushroom clouds in the future.