Starlink link: Here's what caused the flying line of lights spotted over Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- Lights seen flying in Metro Vancouver skies Tuesday night were from satellites, experts say.
A string of lights seen in the sky over Metro Vancouver Tuesday night puzzled some locals, but experts say they are easily explained.
The flying line of lights could be seen at about 9:30 p.m. Later in the evening, the U.S. National Weather Service in Seattle confirmed on social media they were SpaceX satellites.
"Looks like this is associated with today’s SpaceX Starlink satellite launch from Kennedy space centre in Florida," the post says.
About 60 SpaceX satellites were launched from Florida at about noon PT on Tuesday, says the SpaceX website, adding it was its 10th Starlink mission of the year.
Burnaby resident Keith Ramzan was in his yard talking to neighbours with his wife when he saw the lights.
“Never seen anything like that in my life; super cool experience," Ramzan told CTV News. “We watched it for about 30 to 45 seconds until it passed our line of sight.”
Many people wondered on social media what the lights were. Vancouver resident Vardeep Grewal told CTV News he saw what looked like a UFO in the skies above his home at about 9:25 p.m. Tuesday.
“SpaceX launches 60 satellites at a time and they move slowly into their intended location” says University of British Columbia astronomer Aaron Boley. “As they’re going up they’re quite low and visible to sky watchers on the ground.”
They become less visible as they ascend, added Boley.
“They're quite bright when first launched because they're not very high yet, but they'll get dimmer as they get to higher orbit," says Simon Fraser University astronomer Joanna Woo.
“If anyone wishes to try to spot Starlink satellites, they usually do appear together in patterns," added Woo.
She says they're brightest around sunrise or sunset when the angle between them the Sun and Earth is just right to get the brightest reflections.
“I suspect you'll be getting more calls about UFOs in the months ahead as Starlink launches more and more satellites into space,”says Woo. She also called the Starlink project by SpaceX to bring high-speed internet to the whole planet "a worthy goal that has had some success."
Woo worries about Starlink contributing to “serious detrimental consequences for astronomy like light pollution and the addition of space junk " She adds SpaceX has launched about 1,500 satellites so far with plans to launch thousands more.
Woo jokes, “It would have been fun if they were aliens.”
She wonders if when the Vulcans finally do come to visit the planet whether earthlings will know it’s them.
“People will look at them and think,‘oh that’s just Starlink,’ and we’ll miss our first contact with aliens.”
Other star watchers on social media said it was a cool coincidence that the sighting fell on May 4, which is known as Star Wars Day.