The short answer is no.
While many questioned whether the shiny object seen flying over Otago on Tuesday night was a meteor or a plane, astronomer at Dunedin Observatory Ian Griffin confirmed yesterday that it was an electronic missile launched by Rocket Lab from New Zealand’s launch pad on the Mahia Peninsula.
This is the airline’s 17th mission, the Rocket Lab website said, and it has been used to launch a satellite to photograph the Earth into orbit for Japanese company Synspective.
It was called The Owl’s Night Begins and was launched at 11.09 PM on Tuesday.
The satellite is a synthetic aperture radar (Sar), which was developed to be able to photograph changes at the millimeter level on the Earth’s surface from space, regardless of the weather conditions on the Earth and at any time of the day or night.
It is the first in a series of satellite deployments for Synspective Group’s planned more than 30 small Sar satellites, which will collect urban center data across Asia on a daily basis.
It will be used for urban development planning, construction and infrastructure monitoring, and disaster response.
The launch was witnessed by many parts of Otago, including Dr. Griffin.
“It’s the first stage of the rocket’s ascent into space, and the shaft from the engine is what you can see.
“You can see it very clearly because while it is dark on the ground, the height of the rocket is sufficient to such an extent that it is illuminated by the sun.”
Musgill resident Finn Carter was able to take a photo of the missile on his new mobile phone, as it passed overhead.
“What the hell is this?” “I turned and there was this big glowing thing in the sky, moving at real speed.
“So I took my phone out and took a picture, and put it on the internet to see if anyone could say what it is.”
Like many who saw it, he thought it was a meteorite.
St Kilda resident and astrophotographer Andrew Clark thought it was a large meteorite.
“It is definitely one of the books.
“I’ve been an astronomer for 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Mr. Clark said he was leaving his home at around 11.20 pm to do some astrophotography when he saw the scene from the corner of his eye.
He said it was visible for about a minute.
“Basically I only had a few seconds to take a few snaps before they were gone.
“It was so wonderful.”