Eerie Blue Explosion Lights Up New York City

I'm not saying it was aliens, but........

People in New York City and as far away as New Jersey who were up late enough last night witnessed a really weird sight in the sky:

There was a boom; then a hum. The lights flickered. A giant plume of smoke filled the New York City sky around 9:12 p.m., and turned it blue.

“A sort of unnatural, fluorescent shade of blue,” said Bill San Antonio, 28, who was watching Thursday night from inside a terminal at La Guardia Airport.

“We thought it was a U.F.O.,” said Yiota Androtsakis, a longtime Astoria resident.

Ms. Androtsakis was not the only one. In the earliest moments, hundreds of Twitter users from across the city posted videos of the eerie lights, causing many on social media to fear an alien invasion.

By late Thursday night officials said the event was caused by nothing more than a transformer explosion.

“No injuries, no fire, no evidence of extraterrestrial activity,” the New York Police Department tweeted, adding later that the explosion was not suspicious. There was one Con Edison employee nearby when the fire started, and the authorities said he was unharmed.

Still, Deputy Inspector Osvaldo Nuñez, the commanding officer of the 114th Precinct, conceded that the episode “was spectacular.”

“You could see it from the precinct, and the precinct is about a half-mile away,” he said. “You felt it in your chest, the explosions, and the night sky turned an electric blue.”

All the excitement caused plenty of problems. Inspector Nuñez said the bright lights and loud bangs caused a surge of 911 calls, with residents reporting explosions and one person calling in a plane crash.

The power went down briefly at La Guardia Airport, forcing a ground stop and causing delays. And the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in a tweet that No. 7 train service had been disrupted by the power failures.

Even the Rikers Island prison complex, which houses about 10,000 inmates, lost power for about 25 minutes, according to a woman who answered the phone at the North Infirmary Command.

“There’s been confusion pretty much from the start,” said Mr. San Antonio, who was waiting to board a flight to Dallas when the power went out at La Guardia. After the power came back on, he got a text message. His flight had been canceled.

In a statement on Twitter, Con Edison said there had been “a brief electrical fire” at one of its substations in Astoria, “which involved some electrical transformers and caused a transmission dip in the area.” Mayor Bill de Blasio said the blue light was caused by an electrical surge at the substation.

On Twitter, utility officials apologized to dozens of alarmed customers, saying they were “aware of this situation.” Although power failures were reported in parts of Jackson Heights, the utility said late Thursday that “all power lines serving the area are in service and the system is stable.”

Nonetheless, residents on Thursday night were shaken. Ms. Androtsakis said she heard the “weird noise” even through closed windows; after it ceased, she said, she could still hear it in her ears.

The lights were so bright, she added, that in some places an otherwise dark night was as bright as day.

“It was scary,” said Ms. Androtsakis’s neighbor, Mickey, who declined to give his last name. “It was like something from outer space, like we were invaded.”

Today’s day and age being what it is, there were also plenty of posts on social media:

Of course, we know what the actual explanation is:

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Popular Culture, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Teve says:

    Best comment on twitter: ‘if we’re lucky, it’s someone time traveling back to 1945 to stop Donald Trump’s parents from fucking.’ (paraphrased)

  2. @Teve:

    In that case, I wish them the best of luck.

  3. CSK says:

    As any intelligent and informed person will tell you–at great length–this was clearly part of a giant conspiracy on the part of our overlords in The Deep State to conceal the truth from We the People.

  4. Monala says:

    @Teve: Another good Tweet, although less partisan: “It’s the Astoria Borealis!”

  5. MarkedMan says:

    Doug, kudos for putting he inevitable Tsoukalos meme in there, thereby cutting off the race to see who could be first.

  6. PJ says:

    The powers that be are lying about climate change, about vaccines, about the moon landing, about area 51, about the lizard people, and about the 2016 election. And somehow you think that they are telling us the truth about this?

    This was most likely a botched mind control test.


  7. beth says:

    Best tweet I saw (sorry, forgot from who): “Jeez these fu@#king gender reveal parties are getting out of hand!”

  8. Kathy says:


    That’s clever.

  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    See what happens? You defund the EPA for six days and suddenly Walter Peck is shutting down the containment grid!

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: @Doug Mataconis: Yeah, but remember

    everybody kills Hitler the first time

  11. Tyrell says:

    I am not into conspiracies, but whatever happened, we can be sure that the Federal authorities will keep it a secret from now on. They will come out and give their usual phony, tired explanations: “swamp gas”, “Aurora Borealis”, “weather satelite”, “meteor entering the earth’s atmosphere”, “static electricity”. It seems like after all the years of these that they could at least think up some new ones.
    Maybe Mueller can put his energies into investigating this. “Counting flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all” (Statler Brothers)

  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Imagine the embarrassment when they say “Take us to your leader”, and we need to take them to Individual-1.

  13. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    “We’re sorry. The position is vacant at the moment. Please try again in January 2021. Your invasion is very important to us. If you want to talk to tech support, press two. Para Español, marque tres. To talk to an operator, stay on the line.”

  14. DrDaveT says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Imagine the embarrassment when they say “Take us to your leader”, and we need to take them to Individual-1.

    Be real. An honest response to that request would take them to Putin.

  15. Guarneri says:

    Why is it I have no doubt every regular commenter here is sure it was aliens……….

  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    You’re the one shitting your pants over imaginary caravans of “aliens”.

  17. Grumpy realist says:

    Maybe it’s the Atraxi coming back?

  18. JohnMcC says:

    You can fool some of the people all the time, all of the people some of the time but you can’t Con Edison!

  19. grumpy realist says:

    Supposedly the blue colour is due to burning aluminium. (Huh. My browser has decided it’s going to force me to use U.K. spelling for everything. How did THAT happen? Must be all those U.K. news websites I’ve been reading…)

  20. restless says:

    Has anyone asked if that power/transformer substation was internet connected?

  21. Tyrell says:

    @restless: I’m not buying the “transformer fire” story, at least not the “official” account. Some witnesses saw the strange blue light and then the transformer blew up.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    Turns out it was the SLF – the Smurf Liberation Front – led by Papa al Smurfqawi. Drone retaliation attacks imminent.

  23. Deathcar2000 says:

    I’ve been employed by at&t as a linemen for just over 18 years working in communications transport trunking and some power, and my guess would be copper and lead. The few time I’ve seen power eqpt go squiggly it made the same blue color. Oh and the smell was double plus ungood. Like a toaster fire full of pubes.

  24. Matt says:

    @Tyrell: That’s how things happen with high powered electrical shit. Something melts or touches something it’s not supposed to touch and then a cascade failure occurs as components rapidly overheat. The first colors would be from whatever failed first and then the rest would be generated by the cascade which could include a transformer or two.

    Having said that I don’t blindly trust witnesses. If you do any research into how witnesses fck things up then you’d understand why.