Perplexed Mancunians took advantage of social media to express their astonishment tonight at a chain of mysterious lights in the sky above the region. While some residents of Greater Manchester were worried – one declaring that the lights in the sky were not “correct” – others were fascinated by the objects.
But far from being extraterrestrial ships planning an invasion in low orbit, this was the last batch of satellites launched by uber-boffin and Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX. Mr. Musk’s company has been launching the satellites since last May and with the company’s approval to launch 12,000 satellites, the “train” of lights could become a relatively common sight in the skies over Britain.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a payload of approximately 60 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network takes off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Meanwhile, many locals were enjoying the free show.
Taylor emailed the M.E.N. with his picture of the phenomenon and wrote: “Sitting in the garden tonight in downtown Manchester and just watching ’31 planes’ suddenly flying overhead. Turns out it was a “Starlink” from SpaceX – the Elon Musks company in America.” And on Facebook, the people of Greater Manchester expressed their shock and joy at what they had seen. “I just watched them with the kids… incredible,” wrote Carmen Speakman. “There were about 42 of them one after the other,” said Flanagan. While others said that the view of the satellites in the sky was both “strange” and “impressive”.
The mission of the project – which continues to be developed – is to provide remote sites around the world with low-end Internet. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has authorized the company to fly 12,000 satellites as part of the project – and this number could eventually be increased to 30,000.
According to findastarlink.com, Starlink satellites will fly over the United Kingdom until April 24. You can enter your location to find the days and times when they will be most visible in your area.
While Mancunians are restricted to their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a major distraction to watch the sky. Some have been busy for several weeks getting back in shape with sports training at home, others are enjoying their gardens and growing flowers, plants, trees, fruits and vegetables. Many residents opt for the somewhat quieter and more leisurely activities such as playing video games or free online slots, for example. And others opt for a more gourmet rest and retreat by sipping a good hot chocolate and eating freshly baked cookies in front of a Netflix series.
If you are not too busy at night with your films or Skype meetings, you can also keep an eye on the night sky for Starlink satellites and track the satellites using the Starlink application. The Starlink application automatically calculates when the SpaceX Starlink satellites should be visible above your current position.
When you open the application, click on a satellite number from the list provided and select your current location to reveal the visible times. The results will display the start and end time of the observation, duration, tracking directions, elevation coordinates, and a visibility warning if the satellites are difficult to see. There is also the ability to set up reminder alerts so you don’t miss the opportunity to see Starlink.
The sending of these satellites has made a lot of noise these last few days on social networks, especially on the side of astronomers who will be directly impacted in their work. In addition, many specialists are pointing out the health hazards of such waves to allow telecommunications networks to improve considerably. To be followed closely…