The Soyuz rocket, launched to carry a military communications satellite into orbit, created a spectacular light show as it passed over Ekaterinburg, the biggest city in Russia's Ural Mountains.
The eye-catching blue streaks were thought to be caused by moonlight shining through particles emitted by the rocket.
The stunning display was produced when the rocket's Fregat strap-on boosters separated from its upper stage, and dropped to the ground. Rockets can be made up of multiple sections, known as stages, each of which contain an engine and can be jettisoned when their fuel runs out.
Witnesses likened the phenomenon to the Aurora Borealis or northern lights, a natural light display that most often occurs in polar regions and is caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth's magnetic field.
However, Ekaterinburg, which is on the same latitude as Glasgow, is too far south for such a natural display, meaning the light shining through the rocket's emissions is the likeliest explanation.
Some residents who did not know about the launch in advance thought they were seeing an alien spaceship. Read More