Mysterious ‘flying spiral’ spotted in sky by telescope

A mysterious spiral of light in the sky captured by a telescope in Hawaii has been identified. (Source: KHNL)
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 12:53 PM PST
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HONOLULU (KHNL/Gray News) - A mysterious spiral of light in the sky captured by a telescope in Hawaii has been identified, and it’s not a bird, plane or flying saucer.

Captured on the Subaru Telescope in Mauna Kea, the so-called “flying spiral” is a new satellite that was launched earlier that day by SpaceX, according to KHNL.

On Wednesday, SpaceX sent the global positioning satellite into space for the U.S. Space Force.

“The spiral seems to be related to the SpaceX company’s launch of a new satellite,” Subaru Telescope officials from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan wrote in a tweet.

Satellite tracker Scott Tilley also chimed in on the thread and said the location of the spiral was a close match for where the second stage Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX was expected to be in the minutes after launch.

Officials said this isn’t the first time a similar glowing, circular feature was spotted after a SpaceX launch.

People in locations as distant as New Zealand have seen such spirals overhead after Falcon 9 activity.

In other occurrences of similar SpaceX satellites, space watchers have said the spiral shape arises as the upper stage of the Falcon 9 vents release fuel during its long descent into the ocean.

Officials said SpaceX sent five missions to space in the first 19 days of 2023.