A Japanese telescope positioned on top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, captured video of an eerie flying spiral in the night sky on Jan. 18.
In the video, a small bright spot appears and slowly gets brighter and starts to dissipate into a spiral before getting small again and disappearing.
The Subaru Telescope — operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, a research institute — tweeted from their English-language account about its discovery two days later and included a hypothesis as to what caused the mysterious swirl.
“The Subaru-Asahi Star Camera captured a mysterious flying spiral,” reads the tweet. “The spiral seems to be related to the SpaceX company’s launch of a new satellite.”
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SpaceX launched the GPS III Space Vehicle 06 mission on Jan. 18 at 7:24 a.m. from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, according to their mission log. It was later that same day that the spiral was seen in the sky. On their website, SpaceX states it was “the second launch and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage booster.”
According to the Washington Post, this isn’t the first time the Falcon 9 has produced a bright spiral in the sky.
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A spiral was captured above Queenstown, New Zealand, in June. Another one was spotted in April, also over Hawaii. Both appearances of the swirling light came after launches of a Falcon 9 rocket, the outlet reported.
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
The spirals aren’t the only formations captured after SpaceX launches. Last year, photographer Kyle Morgan of K.Morgan Artistry snapped a photograph of a “jellyfish cloud” left behind after a Falcon 9 launch.
“This morning’s Space X rocket launch 20,000+ kilometers per hour at this stage,” he captioned the image on Facebook. “Photo including the first booster drop that landed on the shortfall of gravitas with Venus and Jupiter under the ‘jellyfish cloud.'”
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Morgan said he took the image on Jekyll Island, the southernmost island of the Golden Isles of Georgia.
“[I] do a lot of astrophotography, I’m always out shooting the Milky Way and my wife actually sent me the information on the launch last minute so I took off to my favorite spot on Jekyll Island to capture it,” Morgan told PEOPLE at the time.