Taradale man Colvin Steel may have seen something the military chiefs of either the US or Russia might have been hoping to flick our way without too many people noticing.
The “military satellite” theory is one explanation for the sighting of a large, glowing ball in the sky on Tuesday night, which appeared to pulsate before splitting into two separate lights.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Mr Steel said, adding it did not display any indications it was something coming through the atmosphere.
He had been outside his garage about 6.30pm when he spotted a light in the eastern sky, about 15 degrees above the horizon.
“It was far too bright for a star. I went straight inside and grabbed my camera.”
When he returned outside the light was even brighter, but did not appear to be moving.
“My hands were shaking a bit … It was this amazing orb and I knew it was not a regular star.”
He figured it may have been an aircraft coming in. But the direction was wrong and then the sight of two lights shearing off the main one, which he caught on camera, just added to the mystery.
“I just can’t explain it,” Mr Steel said, adding the two lights then merged again into a bright light which emitted a flash before disappearing.
It lasted about 30 seconds.
Hawke’s Bay Holt Planetarium director and astronomer Gary Sparks said the location suggested it may have been “space junk”.
“A lot of old satellites are de-orbited off the coast of New Zealand,” he said.
The vast expanse of Pacific Ocean to the east, the relative isolation and the depth of the water, made it the ideal dumping ground for extraterrestrial objects which military agencies did not want anyone to find or recover.
“It could have been military stuff,” he said, adding that governments did not seek permission to drop things from space.
“They just go ahead and do it.”
That it appeared stationary would have meant it was heading straight in, with the atmosphere creating oscillations and a glowing, dimming, or distorting appearance.
The pieces flying off may have been disintegration – the different colours reflecting the different materials.
But Mr Steel did not buy into the satellite suggestion as there was no indication of disintegrating debris and the object simply appeared to be hovering.