Spiral Night Sky Hawaii Mauna Kea SpaceX
A strange blue spiral appeared in the night sky over Hawaii’s Mauna Kea last week, and many speculated that it was some sort of UFO, but in reality, the phenomenon was due to frozen rocket fuel ejected during a SpaceX launch. A Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) was sent into space for the U.S. Space Force on Wednesday (Jan. 18) at 7:24 a.m. EST, and this blue spiral was captured by the Subaru Telescope shortly after.

After the rocket’s first stage, which provides the main propulsion for lift-off, separated from the second stage approximately 3-minutes after launch. The second stage then propelled itself into position to deploy the satellite before ejecting the remaining fuel before reentry, which is what most likely caused the spiral phenomenon you see here, illuminated by sunlight.

The spiral seems to be related to the SpaceX company’s launch of a new satellite. The upper stage was probably spinning on its longest axis to stabilize flight orientation, hence the spiral shape. Similar spirals have been seen after previous Falcon 9 launches,” said Subaru Telescope officials from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.