A photograph taken from the summit of Hawaii’s largest mountain appears to show a spiral circling in the night sky. Researchers think it was caused by the previous SpaceX rocket launch in Florida of a military GPS satellite.

The pictures were taken on January 18 by a camera at the top of Mauna Kea, outside the Subaru telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. A white orb moving across the sky in a spiral may be seen in a time-lapse film expanding out. Then it starts to fade and vanish.

Ichi Tanaka, a researcher at the Subaru telescope, claimed he wasn’t immediately aware of it because he was working on other tasks that evening. Then, via an online messaging system, a stargazer who was viewing the camera’s live YouTube video provided him a screenshot of the spiral.

That is what I saw when I opened Slack, and it was a surprising experience for me, according to Tanaka. In April of last year, following a SpaceX launch as well, he noticed a spiral that was comparable but bigger and fainter. The morning of January 18, SpaceX launched a military satellite from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The spiral’s position coincided with where the second stage of the SpaceX rocket was anticipated to be following liftoff.

An email sent to SpaceX on Friday asking for comment received no response. According to Tanaka, the observatory set up the camera to keep an eye on the area around the Subaru telescope and to show off Mauna Kea’s gorgeous sky to Hawaii and the rest of the world. He claimed that a someone viewing the sky in less clear conditions, such from Tokyo, might not have observed the spiral.

Many spectators tune in to the livestream, which is co-hosted by the prestigious Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, on a regular basis. Some people watch to see meteors arc across the sky.

The top of Mauna Kea offers some of the greatest astronomical viewing conditions on Earth, making it a favourite location for the most sophisticated observatories. Many Native Hawaiians revere the top as a location where the gods live and regard it as sacred.

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