• It caused quite a stir among viewers of the 24/7 livestream
  • Its very normal source was eventually confirmed
  • It's not the first time a SpaceX launch created odd sights in the sky

A telescope in Hawaii caught a glimpse of a "mysterious flying whirlpool" over the weekend. The light wasn't evidence of a UFO but of a recently launched SpaceX rocket.

The Subaru Telescope that's mounted at the summit of Maunakea in Hawaii captured the odd footage Sunday. In the video captured by the Subaru-Asahi Star Camera, one can see the "flying whirlpool" actually swirling across the sky over the Maunakea Observatory starting from the left side of the frame until it eventually disappeared from view.

Apparently, the mysterious object wasn't all that mysterious after all, as it turned out to be a part of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that was launched earlier that day.

"'What is it?' 'Wow UFO!?' Though we hope we could keep it a seems it is a falling 2nd-stage of the Falcon-9 (2nd Booster Rocket) by SpaceX which was launched about 2-hr earlier from California today. Well, surely it's a rare view!" the Subaru Telescope, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, noted.

The view caused quite a stir among those who were watching the 24/7 livestream, but the facility's research confirmed its very normal source. Indeed, SpaceX had launched a classified spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from the Vandenberg Space Force Base that day.

As IFLScience explained, even though the first stage of the Falcon 9 is already designed to be reusable and to return to Earth neatly, the upper stage can't be reused, so it has to be deorbited to burn up in the atmosphere. However, it still has to do a final fuel burn to remove any unused fuel. This could be what the Subaru-Asahi Star Camera captured.

It's the first time SpaceX rockets caused quite a stir because of the odd sights its launches have caused. In 2021, a SpaceX rocket launch left a stunning trail across the sky, causing some people to mistake it for a UFO.

Just months later, its Starlink launch also created a strange string of lights in the night sky.

Night Sky/Cosmos/Milky Way/Sky Watching
Representative image. Pixabay-Pexels