pictures of the world
Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press – Jan 28, 2023 / 6:42 a.m. | Story: 408705
Photo: Canadian Press
Taken from a video provided by NAOJ & Asahi Shimbun, this image shows whirlpools swirling through the night sky from Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea. Researchers believe the company’s Falcon 9 rocket shows the aftermath of a SpaceX rocket launch when it sent GPS satellites into orbit. This image was captured on camera on January 18, 2023, from the summit of Mauna Kea outside the National Observatory of the Subaru Telescope in Japan. (NAOJ & AP via Asahi Shimbun)
A camera atop Hawaii’s tallest mountain has captured what appears to be a swirling spiral across the night sky.
Researchers believe it stemmed from the launch of a military GPS satellite that took off earlier from a SpaceX rocket in Florida.
The image was captured on January 18 on camera from the summit of Mauna Kea outside the National Observatory of the Subaru Telescope in Japan.
Time-lapse video shows a white orb unfolding and forming a spiral as it moves across the sky. Then it fades away and disappears.
Ichi Tanaka, a researcher at the Subaru telescope, said he was doing other things that night and didn’t see right away. Then, an astronomer watching the camera’s live stream on YouTube sent him a screenshot of the spiral using an online messaging platform.
“When I opened Slack, that was what I saw and it was a jaw-dropping event,” said Tanaka.
He saw a similar spiral after SpaceX launched last April, but it was larger and fainter.
SpaceX launched a military satellite on the morning of January 18 from Space Force Base Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The spiral’s position matched the expected position of the SpaceX rocket’s second stage after launch.
SpaceX did not respond to an email sent for comment on Friday.
Tanaka said the observatory has installed cameras to monitor the surroundings outside the Subaru telescope and share Mauna Kea’s clear skies with Hawaiians and the rest of the world.
A person looking at the sky in less clear conditions, such as in Tokyo, for example, may not have seen the spiral, he said.
The live broadcast is operated in collaboration with Japan’s leading newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, and often attracts hundreds of viewers. Some adjust their channels to see meteors streak across the sky.
The summit of Mauna Kea has some of the best conditions on the planet for observing astronomy, making it a preferred location for the world’s most advanced astronomical observatory. The summit is also considered sacred by many Native Hawaiians, who view it as the dwelling place of the gods.