The phenomenon was recorded on January 18 by the National Observatory of Japan’s Subaru Telescope, but it was not the first time it had been observed.
Eclipses, shooting stars, aurora borealis or comet showers are events that can be seen – some more often than others – in the night skies. Less common will be to see a spiral that moves and appears and disappears among the other stars of the Solar System. It may sound like science fiction, but this is what happened on January 18th in Hawaii.
The unnatural phenomenon was recorded by one of the cameras of the National Observatory of Japan’s Subaru Telescope, located on top of the Mauna Kea volcano. The explanation, promoted by the scientific community, points to the fact that the incident was caused by a SpaceX military GPS satellite launched in Florida.
In the time-lapse of the incident – the video was played at a much faster speed than recorded – you can clearly see the white orb moving across the Hawaiian sky, spiraling along the way. The form also appears and disappears over time.
“A Shocking Event”
In the English newspaper The Guardian, one of the researchers at the Japanese observatory, Ichi Tanaka, explained that he was working that night, but did not immediately notice the phenomenon. That’s when an astronomer, who was watching the live broadcast on YouTube, sent him a screenshot of the spiral through the digital platform’s messaging system.
“When I opened Slack, what I saw was a shocking event,” said Tanaka, who also says he saw something similar in April last year after a SpaceX launch. The only difference is that it was bigger, but weaker, that is, less visible.
SpaceX has not yet clarified the case, but it is certain that on the morning of the same day, the 18th, takeoff took place at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Space Station, in Florida, and that the location of the helix corresponded to the point where the rocket was supposed to reach the second state of propulsion.
In the Guardian, Tanaka also explains that the observatory installed the camera to monitor the environment of the Subaru Telescope and to share images of the Mauna Kea sky. So that other parts of the planet with less visibility at a given moment can watch the phenomena, as in this case, where, for example, in Tokyo it would be impossible to see the spiral.
The live broadcast is run in collaboration with the Japanese newspaper Asashi Shimbun and regularly has hundreds of people watching.
The summit of the Mauna Kea volcano is a privileged place for astronomers, in addition to the best conditions for observing the Earth, it also has one of the most advanced observatories on the planet.