ORLANDO, Fla. — Central Florida residents were bewildered as dozens of rapidly moving Starlink satellites lit up the night sky last week.
What You Need To Know
- SpaceX satellites passed over part of Florida
- Weather Experts: Clear skies improved visibility
- Sunlight bounced off satellites, illuminating them
“No need to be concerned. They’re actually Starlink broadband satellites that were sent up into orbit last week. In fact, over 60 of them,” Spectrum News meteorologist Mallory Nicholls told viewers.
She said they appeared to be a “train of lights across the sky.”
A website - findstarlink.com – predicted the satellites would pass over Central Florida just after 9 p.m.
That’s about when Richard Carroll of Altamonte Springs spotted them.
“It was the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’m 60 years old,” Carroll told Spectrum News. He said the trail of lights flashed overhead quickly, lasting less than 2 minutes.
For viewers on the surface of Earth, the satellites appear like pearls on a string, one moving one after another, almost in a direct line, as they reflected sunlight in a night sky.
Carroll described them as “perfectly spaced.”
It didn’t make sense to him that these were new satellites orbiting the planet. He drew a picture of what he saw and gave it to Spectrum News.
It looked like the Starlink constellation of satellites as seen from the ground at night.
Weather conditions were ideal for viewing Thursday. A front that moved across the region earlier reduced atmospheric moisture, maximizing visibility. That, combined with the timing of the passage, improved visibility.
At that moment, light from the sun bounced off the satellites as they moved across the night sky. That illuminated the satellites.
Shawn Pettigrew of Sorrento in Lake County said her husband called her from the couch when he spotted them in the sky.
“It was just odd,” she said.
Some people who were surprised by the unexpected satellite show had no idea it was underway and had never heard of SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk. Musk’s Starlink mission calls for thousands of satellites. His company is launching rockets from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that are carrying satellites to build the communications network.
SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket on April 22 and deployed 60 satellites. That brought the total number of orbiting devices to 420.
This is not the first time the satellites surprised Central Florida residents. Stargazers raised eyebrows when a string them cruised over the region in January.