PHOTOS: What was that strange thing in Florida’s sky this morning?

An ethereal bloom of white painted a cobalt sky early Friday morning in South Florida, leaving some early risers curious about the origin of the unusual pre-dawn sight.

The wispy tendril that was shaped like a popsicle, or a balloon, or a heart, depending on location, was the result of a 5:42 a.m. SpaceX rocket launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

With 48 minutes before sunrise, the surface of the Earth was still dark, but the rocket’s exhaust plume became illuminated as the day’s first sunbeams met it on its journey into space.

“I thought maybe it was a cloud, but there weren’t any other clouds and it kept changing,” said Arthur Small, who emailed a photo to The Palm Beach Post asking about the unusual object. “The Northern Lights came to mind, but I know you don’t see them this far south.”

At least one person sent a photo of the plume to the National Weather Service in Miami with a query on what it was. Others posted pictures to social media, either exalting the early-morning beauty or questioning its appearance.

“It’s very similar to when you put a cold cup of water in a humid room and you get water on the outside, except up there, it’s ice crystals,” said Robert Garcia, a meteorologist with the NWS in Miami. “Since it was dark, and then you have something suddenly with light on it, it really stands out.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is carrying more than 5,900 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station, including materials for about 250 science and research investigations that will be conducted on the space station.

The rocket is expected to arrive Monday.

An early morning launch in 2015 by a United Launch Alliance rocket elicited similar responses as those Friday.

“Always a cool thing when you can combine weather, science, and rockets,” said Florida Climatologist David Zierden in 2015.

Atlas V rocket launch vapor trail on Oct. 2 as seen from West Palm Beach. Photo by Post Photo Editor Greg Lovett

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