North Korea state media reported the Hwasong-15 reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometers (2,800 miles), putting the "whole" U.S. mainland in range.
Four minutes later another Korean Air plane on a Los Angeles-Incheon flight also reported the same sighting to Japanese control, he said.
According to the Committee of chiefs of staffs of armed forces of South Korea, the missile launched from the landfill in the North Korean city of Pinson in the province's toll.
He said: "These two images from the same viewpoint, but dramatically different star backgrounds. Orion (Southeast) versus Andromeda (Northwest)!" tweeted Monday, along with photos of the launch.
David C. Wright, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote in a report Tuesday that the Cathay crew most likely had seen the missile's first stage burn out and fall back to earth. Langbroek suggested the images may have been composites, because they picture star constellations that should not appear next to each other.
"They looked so crisp, that just didn't seem right to me", said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who corresponds with Langbroek.More news: Kim Kardashian announces new beauty reality show
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North Korea has a reputation of altering images it releases to the world, tampering with everything from Kim Jong Un's ears to hovercrafts conducting an amphibious landing.
So, I just discovered that the North Koreans DID tamper with their #Hwasong15 launch photo's!
Another indication the image may have been altered is that to capture images of stars, a photographer would have to use a longer exposure, which would result in a blurry (or not sharp) image of the actual rocket liftoff. This can be a harder task to achieve at nighttime, when only the stars can give an idea as to the launch location, rather than daytime, when background landmarks offer more clues about the site.
The organization condemned the Pyongyang regime in October for its repeated launch of ballistic missiles.
"I don't think we've seen any evidence of that, so it looks like they just cut out a star background and put it on to make it look cool", he said.