Nothing but blue skies


View from East River Drive. Photo: Amanda Brainerd

What were those flickering blue lights that illuminated the night sky on Thursday, Dec. 27? Manhattan residents might have gone through the usual checklist: fireworks in the East River? Celebrating a pre-New Year’s race in Central Park? The premiere of a hot new action movie?

Social media quickly provided the correct answer: a transformer at a Con Edison facility in Astoria had exploded, and the “light was caused by an electrical surge at a substation,” as Mayor Bill de Blasio reported on Twitter. The blast caused power outages and transportation slowdowns — which Con Edison referred to as a “transmission dip in the area” — but there were no injuries.

“Confirming incident in #Astoria was result of transformer explosion,” the NYPD’s Twitter feed said. “No injuries, no fire, no evidence of extraterrestrial activity.”

That last theme prompted an array of speculation.

Tweeted New York Times reporter Liam Stack: “NYC is so expensive when the aliens get here they just go straight to Queens.”