You never know what you’ll see when you’re observing the sky. For astronomers using the Subaru-Asahi Star Camera located in Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatory on January 18, 2023, they saw something quite unusual. A mysterious spiral formed and then dissipated over the course of about half an hour. The spiral was most likely from a SpaceX satellite that launched earlier that day.
Mysterious spiral from a SpaceX launch
At 7:24 a.m. EST on January 18, 2023, SpaceX launched the GPS III Space Vehicle 06 mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Astronomers at Subaru said they think the spiral captured on camera is related to maneuvers that put the satellite into mid-Earth orbit.
The Subaru Telescope released a video of the event. The caption in the video explained:
At first it was just a small dot at the left center of the view. Then it ejected an arc-like feature. It became slightly larger … A bright dot appeared in the blob, then it grew into a spiral …
You can watch the video for yourself below.
Other spirals in the sky
In fact, this is not the first time people have looked up to find a mysterious spiral in the sky. An experimental rocket test over Norway triggered many UFO reports in 2009. In that case, a Russian missile that failed just after launch created the awe-inspiring spiral. Read more about that incident at NBC News.
Bottom line: Astronomers using the Subaru-Asahi Star Camera in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, captured a mysterious spiral in the night sky. The spiral was probably related to a SpaceX launch earlier that day.