Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Halo Moscow Cloud

Moscow Halo Cloud
A large white cloud in the shape of a circle — or as it's being called a "halo cloud" — was spotted over the Russian capital last week. Someone decided to take a video of the halo cloud, uploaded it to YouTube and — voilà — instant phenomenon.

Just because of a circular cloud? Of course. All the elements are there: Grainy and shaky video footage. An "unexplained" hovering circular formation cast against a dreary, gray sky. The female voice of a concerned-sounding Russian newscaster emanating from the car radio; although it appears to be unrelated to the cloud.

And on top of all these requisites, there's the obligatory weatherman saying that it's not a UFO, rather it's just a cloud. Anyway, it all follows a well-trod path. Video uploaded to YouTube. It gets watched hundreds of thousands of times (it already hit 1.5 million). And screaming headlines further the sensation.

When the cloud initially formed, some UFO enthusiasts declared it to be a "true mystery." Some even compared it to the giant spaceship hovering over Earth in the movie "Independence Day." Reality quickly dashed any predictions of an alien invasion. An article from the Daily Mail explains that the "luminous ring-shaped cloud" was simply an optical effect.

I'll be the first to admit that a photograph of the heavenly cloud appears to be Photoshopped. It's just so...perfect. But meterologists have spoken up and said the cloud wasn't digitally altered. However, it wasn't exactly what it appeared to be, either.

An official spokesperson for Moscow's weather department said, "Several fronts have been passing through Moscow recently, there was an intrusion of the Arctic air too, the sun was shining from the west — this is how the effect was produced."

Still, my favorite headline so far comes from the popular tech website, Gizmodo. "Ominous cloud formation has Russians fearing an alien attack," they write. Of course, when you read the story, they don't mention anything about fearful Russians at all. Instead they acknowledge — right away — that it's a cloud. But, you can't resist the headline.

And I love the different YouTube descriptions of the same video as well. There's "Stargate Portal Opens Above Moscow!” and “Doomsday sign or UFO? Strange circle in Moscow."

And then there's the report from the Russian media outlet, Russia Today. Are they actually taking this thing seriously? We can’t tell. (See video below).

One of the graphics on the screen says "Trick or Treat" but the anchor, in all seriousness, says things like "scientists have rejected claims of UFO activity" and "people have been left baffled by unexplained circular light ..."


Well, if anything, reports like this will keep the buzz going. And with only two weeks to go until Halloween, it's only appropriate. While the cloud made its appearance a week or so ago, the search-engine searches are still soaring. Look-ups on "halo cloud" and "moscow cloud" are both booming; and as previously mentioned, the video clip has garnered 1.5 million views on YouTube and counting.

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