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Photos show bright green lasers shooting across the night sky above Hawaii

Updated Feb 14th, 2023 3:48PM EST
bright green lasers shooting down from sky
Image: National Observatory of Japan

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Bright green lasers shooting down from the sky in Hawaii left many baffled and confused. The lasers were recorded by the Subaru-Asahi Star Camera, which is attached to the Subaru telescope near the top of Mauna Kea. The lines appeared on January 28 as they flashed across the sky.

While the appearance of bright green lasers in the sky isn’t exactly an everyday occurrence, the event wasn’t alien in nature, either. Originally representatives from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), whose camera was responsible for capturing the lasers on video, said it was lights from a NASA satellite.

The lights, which appeared one by one across the sky in just under a second, were believed to be bright green lasers emitted b NASA’s ICESAT-2 satellite. This satellite was designed to track changes in Earth’s cryosphere and cloud cover caused by the ongoing fight against climate change.

However, an update to the YouTube video’s description several days later shared a much different story. According to that update, the bright green lasers in the sky were not from a NASA satellite. Instead, NASA scientists said that it was likely lasers from a Chinese satellite designated Daqi-1/AEMS. However, there has been no confirmation from China.

Daqi-1/AEMS shares similar scientific goals to NASA’s ICESAT-2. Of course, despite those supposed “scientific goals,” the prospect of a Chinese satellite shooting green lasers in the sky over a U.S. state has led to quite an uproar on social media. Without confirmation from Chinese authorities, though, we may never know for sure which satellite caused the lasers.

You can view the video of the bright green lasers in the sky above to see the “digital rain” yourself. It’s quite a striking view, especially against the dark backdrop of the night sky. And the use of these lasers is a reminder of how important it is to keep our sky’s light amount down as low as possible, as these measurements just wouldn’t be possible with a more polluted sky.

This isn’t the first time mysterious lights in the sky have left people scratching their heads, though they usually have a very terrestrial explanation.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on February 14 to add additional context on the lasers, which were initially reported as being from a NASA satellite.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.