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Spirialing ‘UFO’ Over Australia Was Likely Falcon 9 Rocket

Logical explanations take all the fun out of UFO’s. After the Falcon 9 rocket launched successfully, later, over on the other side of the world, people in Australia saw a spiraling object in their early morning skies, about 6 am local time. Geoffrey Wyatt, from the Sydney Observatory, said it appeared to have been the Falcon 9 rocket, which launched about an hour earlier.

Another image below.

Image of spiraling object over Australia, taken by Lance Godwin, from the 9MSN news station website.

The image is from the 9MSN website in Australia, where you can see more images.

If you recall, there was another spiraling rocket that created a visual sensation over Norway in December of 2009.

Hat tip to The Original Rocket Dungeon. Added later: Oh, and I see the Bad Astronomer has fully explained the whole thing!


Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Olaf June 6, 2010, 11:40 AM
  • Olaf June 6, 2010, 12:00 PM

    Bad astronomy has a map of the path of Falcon 9


    For the doubters, if this is not the Falcon 9, then “where” was the Falon 9? Since it should also be visible at that very moment.

  • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE June 6, 2010, 2:45 PM

    It is obvious that those individuals, who believe in the spiraling ‘UFO’ in the sky over Australia and, previously, in the sky over Norway, have an innate need to believe in some ‘higher power’ watching over us — just like pious Christians see ‘Jesus’ or the ‘Madonna’ in an oil stain, frying pan, cheese-on-toast, or what-have-you. :roll:

  • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb June 7, 2010, 2:11 AM

    “Why would the US military in Australia want to shoot a rocket in the middle of the night over an area where people live?”

    Actually to do so would be illegal. Your bases can only be used for purely defensive purposes – if not – they would be asked to leave.

  • damian June 7, 2010, 2:24 AM

    Falcon 9. Awesome; thanks for making such a splash. Its great publicity, probably more then the launch itself. I must wonder what their marketing Dept must be thinking: Should we tell them or leave the ambiguity going. ?? Considering that It wasn’t supposed to (Roll) and that Its possible that (the out gassing) is a sigh of potential problems. Its much better to keep everyone guessing and enjoying the speculation.

    On a side note, How cool would it be to use sounding rockets to (purposefully) create high altitude displays? Like fireworks, but much much better. :)

    As long as it didn’t do any harm to our ozone layer or otherwise create problems. There is awe to be had and shared here.


  • tiger June 7, 2010, 4:39 AM

    “For the doubters, if this is not the Falcon 9, then “where” was the Falon 9? Since it should also be visible at that very moment”

    Why? The capsule separated from the second stage about an hour before the Australian sighting at altitude 155 mls.

    The alleged trajectory as plotted by ‘badastronomy’ is possibly consistent with the eyewitness accounts of the movement of the object (i.e. SSW 210 degrees to 90 degrees E) but at least one witness says that the object was stationary for about a minute before slowly heading East.

    Does anyone have the official time that the capsule and/or the second stage (which should have been separated from the capsule) were supposed to pass over Eastern Australia? Without that information the plotted trajectory doesn’t mean a thing.

    If the second stage was still in orbit around the Earth, was it in front of or behind the capsule? Was it at the same altitude?

    The speculation is that what was seen was the second stage venting but it (the second stage) was supposed to be sent on to a heliocentric orbit.

    If the Dragon capsule that was boosted by the Falcon 9 was anywhere near the second stage and the second stage was venting and, therefore, out of control it would have put the capsule at risk.

    The last thing I would expect to see is an out-of-control booster in proximity to the capsule, the ground controllers would have been going out of their minds!

    There has been no information about the fate of the second stage published by the people who are in a position to know. Until they do, the explanation of the phenomenon is anyone’s guess – but that’s it, a guess!

  • katesisco June 7, 2010, 5:11 AM

    Ok, I am with kevin and artberry on this. But I also am not believing our own propaganda–that we are masters of the universe–dangerous stuff believing your own publicity. We aren’t the producers of this spiraling event whatever it is……not a defense weapon or anything else.
    But it has happened enough to make me think……………..WS Carey clearly shows the Earth undergoing two separate torsion events. Read Earth, Universe, Cosmos. Today you can see the separations in the rifts that fracture the earth at the equator. Scientists say that the only way the Earth can shift its physical & magnetic poles is thru the close approach of a large physical body. We all breathlessly await Nibiru—exhale.
    What if the hemispheres of the Earth build up not down. With the expectation of a magnetic polar reversal we think it will happen with decrease over time. It may happen with maximum increase suddenly.
    In sols a vanishingly small mineral makes a body impact. Think a small meteorite impacting a planet with maximum magnetic field increase & separation. One half of our planet would reverse, one half go forward. Is this not what we see in Carey’s carefully documented work?

  • Torbjorn Larsson OM June 7, 2010, 6:00 AM

    If you look at the last part of the Falcon 9 it is indeed spiralling a bit, not rotation around its axis. Is this expected?

    I don’t see that, I see a simple rotation.

    I am wondering if the 9 engine system is a bit hard to balance an equal trust on all engines.

    The rotation started with the 1-engine stage 2.

    Can I ask whether the technicians in control of the launch have stated what they know about the second stage?

    SpaceX has said that it will go over the data under the next month.

    Was the second stage sent to a heliocentric orbit? If so, how could it be seen venting off the coast of Australia an hour after launch?

    The orbit was geocentric of course, it was a test flight of a LEO capable rocket.

    Why would the US military in Australia want to shoot a rocket in the middle of the night over an area where people live?

    As http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/ explains, the rocket attains orbit over the ocean (which is the crash area) way before, since Earth atmosphere is ~ 100 km, and the distance to Australia ~ 1000 km or so.

  • Torbjorn Larsson OM June 7, 2010, 6:01 AM

    they’ve only just started to crash with this regular spiral pattern in the last few months.

    There’s the hoof-beats again. These things have been observed before – but the density of observers and mobile cameras have never been as high.

    but at least one witness says that the object was stationary for about a minute before slowly heading East.

    But I also am not believing our own propaganda [sic!]

    Hoof-beats; “propaganda”, hoof-beats^2.

  • Olaf June 7, 2010, 6:55 AM

    “The rotation started with the 1-engine stage 2.”

    Yes I was mistaken in this, somehow I saw a 9 engine seconds stage. I am wondering if it was something mislabelled and later corrected.

    I should recheck the rotating a bit, Take a closer look, the Earth did seem to rotate oddly for a simple Z-Axis rotation. Even with offset.

  • Olaf June 7, 2010, 7:07 AM

    @katesisco, come one man.
    Only fools would believe in Nibiru.

    It is very known that it is Arboria where Ming the Merciless wants to destroy Earth. This was predicted in 1980. They even created a movie to prepare the human race for this to come.

  • Aqua June 7, 2010, 10:46 AM

    This blog has become an interesting study in the propagation of misinformation! (WHERE do they get this stuff?) I imagine many of these posts were generated by well meaning but under-informed individuals who Googled “UFO over Australia” while searching for any fantastic story to chat up fellow bar flies while pounding a few pints of bitter down at the pub?

    I say, you are welcome here, as long as you actually look at the science behind these blogs! Take a chance at actually learning something! Check and recheck your sources. If they are of questionable origin or ask for your money, reconsider! You’ll feel better in the morning about it, as long as you don’t pound a few too many~

  • Olaf June 7, 2010, 5:34 PM

    @Torbjorn Larsson
    I rechecked the rotation in the video clip of the on board launch cam but this does seem like a pure z-axis rotation it is more like a spiral like rotation.

    Of course I have not used the science method of measuring it. lol

  • Torbjorn Larsson OM June 7, 2010, 11:10 PM

    Olaf, what can I say? Of course it is possible that something else than rotation was at hand, it was unintended after all. OTOH rotation along the spin axis is likeliest, and the rocket attitude is unknown so opinions may differ as you’ve already noted.

    Luckily SpaceX will tell us what was “going up”, eventually.

  • Olaf June 8, 2010, 4:11 AM

    I agree SpaceX has the real data.
    I am wondering as a private company, they probably do not have to share this with the public? Company secrecy?

  • tiger June 9, 2010, 4:45 AM

    Torbjorn said: “the orbit was geocentric of course – does he know this for fact? Or is it just a reasonable surmise?

    This is what Nasa Spaceflight.com published before the flight:

    “Assuming that the first stage flight and separation are nominal, the second stage will ignite four seconds after separation to begin the first of two planned burns. This burn is expected to end after eight minutes and thirty seven seconds of flight. At this point, its engine will be shut down, and the spacecraft will probably separate shortly afterwards. The target orbit for the spacecraft after today’s launch is understood to have an altitude of approximately 250 kilometres (155 miles), and 34.5 degrees of inclination.

    After spacecraft separation, the rocket will continue to coast until fifty four minutes and thirty three seconds after launch. Once the coast phase is complete, the second stage is expected to restart and burn for around sixty eight seconds, a burn which it is understood is intended to place the upper stage into a heliocentric orbit, however this has not been officially confirmed,” http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/06/live-spacex-attempt1-maiden-launch-falcon-9/

    If this is the Falcon 9, the logical explanation is that what is seen heading towards the East is a disaster unfolding as the second burn of stage 2 misfires, rather than ‘venting’.

    What do “hoof-beats” have to do with rational discussion? Those comments are unhelpful and pejorative. Eye-witness testimony of any event is important for evaluation.

    At least one other eye-witness stated that the object passed from NW to SE – which is inconsistent with with the SW to NE track of Falcon. I didn’t see the object, did you Torbjorn?

    Personally, I don’t subscribe to this object being of the same ilk as the Norwegian ‘rocket’ scenario last December- the behaviour and appearance is hardly similar at all.

    The Australian scenario, clearly, can be Falcon 9 – but there are a few anomalies to be clarified before that can be confirmed – probably by SpaceX. (Considering the published burn times and upon making a calculation of the time it would take for a object launched from Florida at 0446AEST to reach 155 mls and then travel on the projected path to Eastern Australia, surely someone can make a pretty accurate statement about where stage 2 was at ‘@0550 AEST’ .)

    Norway? Irrespective of the claims, I believe that was HAARP! I wish they’d stop mucking around with things where they have no idea of the consequences. If they ever succeed in controlling what they’re attempting to control in the ionosphere we’re all in trouble.

  • ND June 9, 2010, 11:20 AM


    Norway was a failed russian icbm launch. This has been discussed at length. The russians sent out a notice of the launch covering the date the formation was seen and it was along the trajectory of the missle’s test path. The russians admitted that there was a failure. Sheesh.

  • tiger June 10, 2010, 4:15 AM

    I’m well aware of the Russians ‘fessing up’ to the Norway incident. I’m also well aware that many people accept the explanation – I don’t.