Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

See new, spectacular, or mysterious sky images.
Martin Gaskell

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Martin Gaskell » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:02 pm

In December 1968 I was lucky to catch the fuel leak of the upper state of the Saturn V sending Apollo 8 to the moon for the first circumlunar flight. The leak took place about half way the moon. It looked quite different from the Mauna Kea videos. The Apollo 8 fuel leak started off star-like to the naked eye and after a few minutes it was barely noticeably fuzzy. I looked at the glow with a small refractor at about 30-40X magnification. The glow looked somewhat like the nucleus and coma of a comet. The brightness faded continuously from the center. This perfectly matched the power-law density profile predicted by adiabatic expansion of gas into a vacuum. If I remember correctly from doing computer modeling of this in the 1970s, the diffuse outer edge expands at three times the initial sound speed of the gas. I followed the expanding glow until it was perhaps the apparent size of the moon. It was getting fainter all the time. I followed it for perhaps 20 minutes. This looked quite different from what is in the Mauna Kea videos. The latter show a bright outer edge, not the smooth power-law-like brightness gradient I saw. This could be explained by the Apollo 8 upper stage leak being simple adiabatic expansion into a vacuum while the event seen from Mauna Kea is material ploughing into the tenuous upper atmosphere (a bit like a supernova remnant and the interstellar medium). It was a wonderful experience to have seen the Apollo 8 fuel leak with my own eyes. It provided a marvelous personal connection to that historic flight. When every anyone suggests that the US never went to the moon, I always tell them of what I saw that evening just before Christmas 1968.

TidyTim

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by TidyTim » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:58 pm

I have no idea what the expanding sphere is. However in watching the looping video I've noticed another mystery. If you loop the video, there are at least five objects that appear to be stars, but all five move together relative to the stars. This is quite noticeable when looping. There are two near the center and three more forming a triangle near the top of the image. If the total duration is six minutes then these objects must be in a relatively high Earth orbit. Perhaps at the distance of a GPS Satellite (?). Note that all five objects seem to be traveling on the same trajectory. Could there be a relation between the multiple objects and the expanding sphere?

I watched many missile launches from Vandenburg AFB and when the second stage separates in the upper atmosphere you can see the shock wave. That of course is very rapid and only covers a very small angular area. But if this is a shock wave traveling at the speed of sound then it was a very powerful. It may be that the five objects are falling toward the camera, do not have orbital velocity, and that might explain the low angular velocity seen in the Video. In that case I could speculate that a sixth object had preceded the other objects and was responsible for the shock wave.

TidyTim

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by TidyTim » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:23 pm

There are actually NINE points of light all traveling together. I read more of the posts and I would say its almost certain that this was from the earlier launch at Vandenburg AFB.

Loop the video to see all nine points, maybe you can increase the count?

HTO

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by HTO » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:24 pm

Here is a link to the CFHT webcam. I was curious to see the whole 24 hours. Some of the lights appear to be bad camera pixels, they do not move while the stars do.
http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/en/gallery/t ... -c4&cam=c4

Mike M at MLC

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Mike M at MLC » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:27 pm

N. Korea or Chinese atmospheric nuke testing?

grimas7

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by grimas7 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:53 pm

haarp?

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 15044
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by neufer » Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:32 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
Cassiopeia and Triangulum are apparent in the background stars, so we are looking low to the NE.
With about the right azimuth, altitude and movement that one would expect for a Minuteman III
traveling from Vandenberg to Kwajalein (and passing about 8° north of the observatory).

Jupiter is the bright object to the East going out of frame at about 22° altitude.

(Note: none of the background would have been visible on March 22 until well past dawn.)
Art Neuendorffer

guest2

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by guest2 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:24 pm

This is the first time I have posted my thoughts on any forum but I am just amazed at the replies I am seeing. The lens flare idea comes closest to anything possible - the perfect circle drscribed on the movies can only be an optical effect, not venting gases or anythng else. If you look at the horizon on the second video (http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/~kanoa/ball/event.mp4) you will see a source moving right to left in sync with the "flare". The mystery flash must be a reflection or other optical effect from that source.

User avatar
owlice
Guardian of the Codes
Posts: 8336
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by owlice » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:13 pm

guest2 wrote:This is the first time I have posted my thoughts on any forum but I am just amazed at the replies I am seeing. The lens flare idea comes closest to anything possible - the perfect circle drscribed on the movies can only be an optical effect, not venting gases or anythng else. If you look at the horizon on the second video (http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/~kanoa/ball/event.mp4) you will see a source moving right to left in sync with the "flare". The mystery flash must be a reflection or other optical effect from that source.
I think lens flare has been discounted because the "mystery flash" was captured by at least two instruments in two different positions, at the same time. In addition to that, it's reported above that this was seen by two different people, standing outside looking with night vision goggles. Indeed, lens flare had been rejected by the telescope operator -- see above post -- because the phenomenon did not do what lens flare does. Since he has experience with lens flare with that equipment/in that location, I'm inclined to believe him when he says this wasn't lens flare.
A closed mouth gathers no foot.

YB Eisms

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by YB Eisms » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:25 pm

The Halo has something common with the halo that sometimes appear around the moon or the sun. That particular halo is caused by light that falls in an exact angle of 22 degrees on cirrus clouds. So I Think you can conclude that the explosion (or what it might be) occurs outside earth atmosphere. It is almost impossible that a meteor caused a flash like this, like mentioned before.

Ik hope this will help a little bit understanding the cause of this weird flash..

Yb eisma

rachel heininger

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by rachel heininger » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:01 pm

Excuse me, for me someone made a bubble gum in front of the camera.
Bye

Guest

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Guest » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:03 am

its a meteor exploding off in the distance in the upper atmosphere

Guest

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Guest » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:42 am

Maybe one of the Sun's solar flares have any been reported recently?

Grant Entwistle

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Grant Entwistle » Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:26 am

Stray particle stream from space bent into a circle by the Earth's magnetic field.

Looks fuzzy
takes a long time
has a definite circular symmetry

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4fGFE0VFb8&feature=fvsr

shivanand
Asternaut
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:09 am

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by shivanand » Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:26 am

my guess is that it could be a small ex plosioon of gas from a volcanic vent.

motcon

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by motcon » Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:38 pm

It does not appear to be a flash (brighter then fading) in the time frame it is observed. It rises as small bright object that is predictably defused in the atmospher as it rises above the horizon. It is too bright to determine its source shape. Since it rises with the background star field its source must emanate from deep space. Perhaps an exploding star or galaxy could generate such a bright concentrated source. Perhaps we're looking at the venting of a collapsing galaxy from the position of the venting. Did anyone look at the night after to see what the sky looked like in that very spot?

Anon

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Anon » Sun Jun 26, 2011 5:18 pm

I like the prismatic effect of the shock wave from the rocket launch. The sun would have been low behind it. Similar to gravitational lensing?
I remember seeing the ambient water coalescing in the shock wave of supersonic jets.

Nice photo record though.

DrMatt

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by DrMatt » Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:24 pm

It looks like an out-of-focus dandelion seed drifting towards the camera.

astrotravelz

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by astrotravelz » Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:18 am

I think this is a video of the setting moon shown in reverse.

Veritas

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Veritas » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:16 am

Pretty cool that the Minuteman 3rd stage shutdown is so visible for about 8 minutes (but back lit by the sun). Numbers work out well -- below the horizon above CA for 1 1/2 min. or so, traveling at the Minuteman's 160 mi / min. In fact, assuming that the gases from the explosive shutdown are traveling at a speed similar to the Minuteman's, the shell growing to an angular diameter of about 45 degrees over the 6 minutes the video shows is just about right.

Wow.

baksa@juno.com

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by baksa@juno.com » Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:07 pm

Can you give me a direction from the top of the mountain to the event? If you look that direction or if you view that direction on a map is there anything on the island or off that way in the ocean that might give us a clue to what this is? Also is there a real time video available? thanks, Pete e-mail is baksa@juno.com

Sasquatch56

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Sasquatch56 » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:11 pm

What comes to mind is a shockwave from an explosion at high altitude up to hundreds of miles away. It could be a booster or an asteroid/ comet. That would account for the circular shape and the relatively long duration as it spreads out at supersonic speeds.

Cwrwda

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Cwrwda » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:52 pm

The expansion isn't uniform in speed at it appears to suddenly accelerate after about 2/3rds of the clip.

I'd say its condensation on the lense due to a cold/warm front moving over.

Calli Arcale

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by Calli Arcale » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:25 pm

Jose Lopes wrote:The ATV 2 freighter transport from ESA was dumped from ISS and burned over the Pacific on June 22.
ATV-2 was orbiting prograde, however, so its reentry would've been traveling in the opposite direction. Also, it would have been MUCH brighter and more obvious. According to ESA, contact with ATV-2 was lost at 20:41:39 GMT on 21 June, which I believe would be 10:41:49 HST -- daylight.

The Savagery

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Post by The Savagery » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:06 pm

Looking at the video, I noticed that the expanding field had no visible (at least to my eyes) interaction with the clouds moving directly against it. To me that says several things: It may have been out of reach of moving atmosphere; it may be unaffected by the motion of currents in the atmosphere (read has no mass), or it may be an expanding magnetic field reacting with the light around it somehow. My ideas may be a little crack pot but I also lack formal training. Hope it's been worth the read.