The strange light seen over Hawaii was actually part of a SpaceX rocket

The strange light seen over Hawaii was actually part of a SpaceX rocket
The strange light seen over Hawaii was actually part of a SpaceX rocket

The strange “flying whirlpool” over Mauna Kea, Hawaii was actually part of a SpaceX rocket. /Subaru Telescope

On the last Sunday, April 17, the Subaru Telescope captured video of a strange “flying whirlpool” over Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Now, it turns out that the impressive “night spiral” was actually the remains of a rocket SpaceX after launching a spy satellite. SpaceWeather gave some details about the confusion.

SpaceX had launched a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from USA The rocket Falcon 9 it was topped by an NROL-85 spacecraft, which lifted off at 9:13 a.m. EDT from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Both the activity and the payload of the spacecraft have the level of classified information.

The video

The video shows the characteristic spiral caused by fuel venting after the Falcon 9 upper stage deorbited. “The spacecraft was taken out of orbit over the [Océano] Pacific right after the end of the first revolution,” he said. Marco Langbroek satellite tracker.

Langbroek watches SpaceX launches closely and has created stunning images of his own showing the deployment of starlink satellites.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 booster is reusable and has successfully landed on an autonomous spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean, according to images from SpaceX. Falcon 9’s upper stage is not reusable, and once it sent the spacecraft into its assigned orbit, naturally fell into the atmosphere to burn.


The Subaru Telescope is an 8.2-meter optical-infrared telescope located in Hawaii, operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. The facility operates at an altitude of 4,139 meters.

Due to the difficulties of working in such a dim atmosphere, most Subaru staff work remotely. Only a handful of people remain on site to maneuver the telescope, the facility’s website claims.

The Subaru-Asahi Sky Camera, which captured the images, is a popularization camera project in collaboration with Asahi-Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper. The project started in 2021 with the purpose of live broadcasting the night sky, Subaru stated in a statement press release about the project.

The article is in Spanish

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