KEY POINTS

  • "Cotton candy cloud" was seen over the East Coast on Wednesday
  • Netizens shared photos of the mysterious cloud
  • It was caused by a rocket launch from the Wallops Flight Facility

Many people on the East Coast spotted a rather odd red cloud in the sky this week. It turns out, there's a completely logical explanation for the phenomenon.

Many took to social media after spotting a bright, pinkish-red cloud in the sky on Wednesday. The mysterious cloud looked quite puffy, no wonder it earned the nicknames "cotton candy cloud" and "red cloud" online. It was seen even as far south as Puerto Rico, The Charlotte Observer reported.

In some of the photos shared on social media, the bright color of the puffy cloud could still be seen even when the sky was already dark.

"I was very shocked to walk out of my front door to see a red cloud like that, after the sun had already set. It was beautiful to witness," one Twitter user wrote, also sharing stunning images of the cloud.

"I was driving home this evening and had to take a picture of this random pink cloud in the sky," another wrote. "This picture doesn't do it any justice. It was super vibrant and looked completely unreal."

Due to its peculiar appearance, it sparked talks of UFOs as well.

So what exactly was this red cloud? It was not caused by aliens, but it wasn't a natural phenomenon, either.

Apparently, it was the result of the Department of Defense's "three-stage suborbital sounding rocket" launch from Wallops Flight Facility on Wednesday afternoon. As NASA explained on Monday, the rocket was set to release a small amount of vapor into the "near-vacuum of space" in an effort to study ionization in space.

In fact, the agency had warned that the phenomenon could occur.

"There is no danger to public health or the Earth's environment from the vapor release," NASA said. "After the vapor release, colorful clouds may be visible over the ocean to residents in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States as the Sun illuminates the vapor before it diffuses harmlessly into space."

The agency also shared its own photos of the launch and the cloud.

 In the image, one could clearly see the bright reddish-pink cloud even against the dark sky. 

Clouds Pictured: Representative image of colorful-looking clouds. Photo: Katarzyna Tyl/Pixabay