A Japanese telescope captured images and video of a blue vortex flying over Hawaii on January 18.
“The Subaru-Asahi Star Camera captured a mysterious spiral flying over Maunakea, Hawaii” that “appears to be related to the SpaceX company’s launch of a new satellite” Subaru Telescope tweeted on the 19th of Jan.
The telescope sits atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii, and is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.
In the video, the object begins as a small white sphere flying across the night sky. It then expands into a spiral before descending into a ring shape and continuing to disappear.
According to the Telescope YouTube channel, a livestream viewer first noticed the event and brought it to the attention of staff. A stream is run together through the telescope Asahi Shimbuna Japanese newspaper company.
SpaceX moved the global satellite into mid-orbit at 7:24 am the same day from the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida. The launch used a Falcon 9 rocket.
This is not the first time SpaceX has created a mysterious flight in the night sky. One is spotted above New Zealand in June on the same day as the Falcon 9 launch from the same location in Florida. After another launch in April, the Subaru Telescope captured a similar image above Hawaii.
Online space communities have suggested that spirals — and other formations, such as “space jellyfish” — occur when rockets release leftover fuel. The gas is expelled at a pressure higher than the atmosphere. The forms which we see from below are illuminated by the sun.
SpaceX and Subaru Telescope did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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