A mysterious blue “whirlpool” was seen in the night sky over Hawaii on January 18.
A Japanese telescope captured images of the anomaly after the launch of a SpaceX navigation satellite.
The discarded fuel from that SpaceX rocket may have created the spiral in the sky.
A ghostly blue spiral seen in the sky over Hawaii could be linked to the launch of a SpaceX satellite.
The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan saw the mysterious spiral through his Subaru Telescope on January 18just after SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a large military satellite for the US Space Force.
Ichi Tanaka, a Subaru Telescope researcher, was busy doing other work that night and did not notice the otherworldly shape forming in the telescope view, he told The Guardian. Then someone sent him a screenshot of the Youtube live stream.
“When I opened Slack, that’s what I saw and it was an amazing event for me,” Tanaka told The Guardian.
On Twitter, the observatory shared an image of the cosmic eddy and posted the following video of the spiral formation flying over the Mauna Kea volcano and then dissipating.
“The Subaru-Asahi Star Camera captured a mysterious flying spiral over Maunakea, Hawaii,” the Subaru Telescope said on Twitter on January 19. “The spiral seems to be related to the launch of a new satellite from the SpaceX company.”
The launch occurred at Cape Canaveral, Florida, but satellite tracker Scott Tilley answered to the tweet that the location of the spiral over Hawaii closely matched the location of the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket at the time.
That’s the part of the rocket that pushes its passenger satellite up into Earth’s orbit, after the rocket’s booster (first stage) separates and falls back to Earth.
SpaceWeather.com, which tracks sightings of phenomena like this, speculated that the mysterious spiral came from the Falcon 9’s first stage spewing fuel as it descended.
This isn’t the first time a spiral has been seen in the sky after a SpaceX launch. After a launch in Florida in June 2022, a similar spiral was seen in Queenstown, New Zealand, The Washington Post reported.
These SpaceX spirals are “becoming common in the Pacific” as the company increases the pace of Falcon 9 launches, according to SpaceWeather.com.
Falcon 9 rockets have also created other colorful and ethereal formations in the sky. The launch that could have produced the New Zealand spiral may also have created a “smoke ring” formation in the skies over the central US, according to SpaceWeather.com.
The SpaceX rocket is also known for the “space jellyfish” that often paints in the sky as it ascends through the atmosphere.
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