He took a camera at the top of the tallest mountain in Hawaii that captured the shape of a spiral through the night sky.
Researchers believe the strange object is linked to a military GPS satellite that was launched from a SpaceX rocket to Florida.
The images were captured on January 18 by a camera on top of Mauna Kea outside the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s Subaru Telescope.
The time-lapse video shows the white ball expanding and forming a spiral moving across the sky. Then he withdraws and disappears.
Ichi Tanaka, a researcher at the observatory, said he was working that night and did not see him immediately. Then a stargazer watching on YouTube live cam sent him a screenshot of the spiral using the online messaging platform.
“When I opened Slack, that’s what I saw and the result was jaw-dropping to me,” Tanaka said. He saw a similar spiral last April, also after the SpaceX launch, but bigger and more failing.
SpaceX launched a military satellite on the morning of January 18 from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Station. The site of the spiral match where the second stage of the SpaceX rocket is expected after its launch.
SpaceX did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Tanaka said the observatory has installed a camera to monitor the surroundings outside the Subaru telescope and share images of the clear skies of Kea’s mausoleum. Someone looking at the sky in less clear conditions, for example from Tokyo, may not see the spiral, he said.
The stream works in conjunction with the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, and often receives hundreds of visitors. Some are tuned into meteor shows.
The summit of Mauna Kea has what are considered to be the best conditions on Earth for astronomy, making it a spot for the world’s most perfect observations. The peak is also considered sacred by most native Hawaiians, who consider it the place where the gods reside.
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