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Starlink could spark a new UFO sightings boom

Posted on Tuesday, 7 January, 2020 | Comment icon 11 comments

One example of a Starlink sighting. Image Credit: YouTube / Marco Langbroek / VideoFromSpace
An ambitious effort to bring satellite Internet access to all could end up generating countless UFO reports.
With as many as 40,000 satellites set to be launched over the next few years, Starlink aims to bring inexpensive Internet access to countries all over the world.

Up to 60 satellites are already being launched every two weeks and this trend shows no sign of stopping, much to the ire of astronomers who have accused SpaceX of polluting the night sky.

But there is another, less obvious consequence of these launches - erroneous UFO sightings.

Immediately after launch, Starlink satellites can appear as a long train of lights swiftly moving across the night sky - a spectacle that has already managed to generate confusion and intrigue.
Over time, as more of these satellites are placed in orbit, more and more people will see them.

To combat this, various UFO organizations have moved to highlight such reports in their databases.

"For the time being, we have included in our database of sightings the several hundreds of reports we received about the cluster, principally to illustrate how easy it is to cause human observers to be deceived by a new, and eye-catching, visual phenomenon," NUFORC wrote last month.

As things stand, it is likely that we can expect to see countless more UFO reports attributed to these launches over the coming months and beyond.

The skies, it seems, are about to become very crowded indeed.

Source: | Comments (11)

Tags: SpaceX, Starlink, UFO

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by sci-nerd on 7 January, 2020, 20:45
There are only 5,000 satellites in orbit, and they've each got more space for themselves, than any object on Earth could get, if we divided the surface. Compared there are 1,5 million cars in NYC, a tiny area seen in that perspective. And traffic in space is much better organized.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 7 January, 2020, 21:24
Except that's such a massive over simplification that it becomes invalid. In the case of "traffic in space being better organized", that's quite simply untrue. A large proportion of objects in orbit are dead and not being controlled at all. Many satellites share similar orbits, so simply dividing the surface area by the number of satellites won't give you an accurate number. Worse still, satellites operate at a variety of different altitudes and so you need a 3D model not a 2D. The big problem is that as well as the 5000 satellites there is a huge amount of space junk. Some of this is so small... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by AllPossible on 7 January, 2020, 21:32
I understand that. But 40,000 more satellites in a few years is just whats being reported. Plenty of countries arent reporting their launches. Eventually there will be chaos up there especially considering that velocity. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by sci-nerd on 7 January, 2020, 21:41
Simplification is a good forum tool. And it's not invalid, it's just less detailed. True, but their orbit is known. We know where they are. And unless they get knocked out of course, they should not cause any chaos. Basically we agree. You are just much more into details than I care to be.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Seti42 on 8 January, 2020, 8:44
If this gives me cheaper (or free!) high speed internet, I'm 100% for it. Sorry astronomers, but internet access is a right not a privilege (IMO), and it's WAY too expensive...At least when your only option is Comcast.
Comment icon #7 Posted by toast on 8 January, 2020, 9:05
Even if some launches are not reported, the satellites trajectories of the hidden launched ones are well known and mentioned in the databases of all nations/companies who operate and plan satellite launches/missions. Speed isnt an issue, trajectories are doing the trick.
Comment icon #8 Posted by toast on 8 January, 2020, 9:08
Cars have brakes, satellites dont. If we add the planned 40k units we are at 45k satellites, which increase the probability of collisions by factor 8. Each collision would increase the collision factor in an exponential fashion because of the generated amount of debris.  
Comment icon #9 Posted by ChrLzs on 9 January, 2020, 1:28
To add to what Toast said - you cannot hide a satellite launch.  There's that big rocket thingy that blasts out exhaust, there are amateur astronomers all around the globe.  As soon as it goes into orbit, it will reflect sunlight back to earth for about half of each orbit and thus be visible, and then a whole pile of independent folks will work out its orbital parameters.  Then the information will be available to all, at places like Heavens Above.  Try it. And that site includes spy satellites and all satellites and expended rocket boosters etc from every country on the globe.... (Cue Twiligh... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by kalon1701 on 29 January, 2020, 18:24
What's really annoying is that these satellites are going to cause all manner of problems for astrophotographers, Musk is a "insert colourful metaphor here" 
Comment icon #11 Posted by Crikey on 29 January, 2020, 23:06
Sooner or later satellites are going to smash into each other (Murphy's Law) and the thousands of bits of debris will hit more satellites and so on, starting what NASA calls a "chain reaction" in this clip from 'Gravity'-  

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