West Hawaii residents up early Monday morning and looking skyward around 6:15 a.m. might have seen an unusually bright object burning across the sky from west to east.
Witnesses, including a Kona police officer, reported seeing the brightly burning object, with sightings coming from near Kiholo, Kuakini Highway near Palani Road and Saddle Road.
Ricci Bezona’s first thought, as he turned from Palani Road south onto Kuakini Highway, was the object above him, over the ocean, was a low-flying helicopter.
“Then I noticed it was on fire,” Bezona said. “It had a trail and sparks flying off the back of it.”
The object continued on an eastbound trajectory, moving over Hualalai’s northern flank.
“It was amazing,” Bezona said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
The item sparked, then the sparks fizzled out and the object went dark, he added.
At the same time, Kona Patrol Capt. Richard Sherlock was driving to work on Saddle Road.
He saw the same object and speculated it was headed toward the mountain. He said the department hadn’t taken any reports about the object.
Pohakuloa Training Area spokesman Bob McElroy said someone at the base spotted the object, as well.
“He said it looked like a very bright shooting star,” McElroy said.
Gemini observatory spokesman Peter Michaud said the observatory doesn’t track such close objects, but based on eyewitness descriptions speculated it could have been a meteor of some kind.
“If it changes color, it could be space junk,” Michaud added, pieces of debris falling from defunct satellites. “They can be really spectacular. It makes a bright light.”
Nine times out of 10, if someone reports seeing a bright morning object that doesn’t move, it’s Venus, Michaud added.