[Welcome to Sci-Fi Science, a new weekly column that takes an alternating look at the real science behind sci-fi and the every day strangeness that often sends us scrambling for a textbook.]
I recall a few years back walking out of a shop at dusk and being met by a sky that was a putrid orange color as far as the eye could see. It was a barely describable hue that had blanketed the entire horizon and the reason I remember it so well is that, for a second, I was convinced that some manner of Lovecraftian Elder God was rising from his slumber in the netherworld betwixt ours and His. I still don't know what caused that weird optical illusion, but it certainly wasn't the only cloud formation to ever inspire thoughts of invaders from beyond.
Just two weeks ago citizens all over Moscow tilted their heads upwards and broke out their cellphones to snap pictures and record videos of what looked alarmingly like a UFO in the sky. It was a bright halo of light that lorded over the city like an eye from space, though meteorologists have a different explanation for why the sky suddenly looked like the saucer invasion scene from Independence Day. Surprisingly, it does not involve swamp gas. From the Daily Mail, "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."