HONOLULU — A camera above the top of Hawaii’s tallest mountain captured the spiraling image of the night sky.
The researchers believe that it was caused by the release of a military GPS satellite that had previously been launched on a SpaceX rocket in Florida.
Photos on 18 Jan. They were captured 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 on the Subaru telescope, said he was working that night and didn’t see it right away. 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 results were jaw-dropping to me,” Tanaka said.
He saw a similar spiral last April, also after the SpaceX launch, but a larger and more faint one.
SpaceX launched a military satellite on the morning of Jan. 18. launched 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 sent Friday seeking comment.
Tanaka said the observatory installed a camera to monitor the surroundings outside the Subaru telescope and share the clear sky of Mauna Kea with the people of Hawaii and the world.
Someone looking at the sky in less clear conditions, for example from Tokyo, may not see the spiral, he said.
The stream has worked in partnership with the Asahi Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper, and often receives hundreds of views. Some were then watching meteors sweep across the sky.
The summit of Mauna Kea has some of the best viewing conditions on Earth for astronomy, making it a location for the world’s most perfect observations. The summit is also considered sacred by many Native Hawaiians who consider it to be the place where the gods reside.
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