Unusual sky phenomenon captivates Hong Kong residents

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5th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong experienced a mesmerising sight on Monday evening (4th September) as a peculiar phenomenon appeared in the sky, resembling a soaring dragon or a vibrant pillar of red light. Citizens from various districts, including Sha Tin, Choi Wan in Kowloon, Hung Hom Ferry Pier, and Quarry Bay on Hong Kong Island, eagerly captured the spectacle and shared it on social media.

Some even whimsically speculated that it could be aliens observing us. However, concerns also emerged, with some netizens interpreting it as a foreboding sign or an ill omen, stating, “The dragon’s soul returns to the heavens—a bad omen.” In contrast, others analysed the phenomenon as a result of “contrails,” the condensation trails formed by passing aircraft.

Photographs uploaded by citizens depict the dragon-like cloud stretching across the sky, appearing slender and crimson in the twilight. In some images, the cloud formation even resembles the head of a mythical creature, adding to its mystical appeal.

While some netizens expressed concerns about potential adverse weather or ominous signs, linking it to the nature of the dragon, others rationalized the phenomenon as simply being formed by aircraft contrails.

Contrails, short for “condensation trails,” are line-shaped clouds created by the water vapour and ice crystals present in aircraft engine exhaust, combined with low temperatures at higher altitudes. Impurities in the exhaust, such as sulfur compounds, can act as nuclei for water droplets to freeze and form ice particles, constituting a contrail. These trails may persist and spread, resembling natural cirrus or altocumulus clouds, and are scientifically known as homomutatus. They contribute to the cloudiness of the atmosphere and, in some cases, have implications for climate change.