Starlink lights up Oklahoma night sky

One of my co-workers set the newsroom buzzing a few weeks ago when she said she saw a train of strange lights crossing the sky in a line.

Soon after, another one of my co-workers went out and verified what she was saying.

One person seeing something strange is one thing, but two people seeing the same thing is another.

So, I did what any good astronomer or journalist does: go out and verify.

I walked out to a place next to the News & Eagle building and positioned myself so that the light from a nearby street light would be blocked from view. It didn't take long before I definitely noticed something strange going on. There definitely were tiny lights buzzing across the sky at a high altitude near the zenith (a fancy word for straight up in the sky). They weren't in a tight line, but they all seemed to be flying in roughly the same direction.

Just to make sure THREE people weren't hallucinating at the same time, I set up a post on our newspaper's Facebook site to see what other people were seeing. Sure enough, there were sightings of the weird lights from not only in Enid but other parts of Oklahoma as well.

Thanks to a bit of detective work and some helpful members of the community, it was determined that what we all were seeing were the new Starlink satellites. Starlink is a SpaceX operation, the goal of which is to bring broadband internet access around the world. I had not before seen the Starlink satellites, nor had I done much research prior, so seeing them for the first time was a surprise.

The Starlink network (starlink.com) already has hundreds of satellites, and thousands may eventually be in the sky by the time it's all said and done. The satellites look like just a line passing overhead right now, but by the time the thousands are added, who knows what it'll look like?

That begs the question of how astronomers will deal with these satellites crossing fields of view for who knows how many years. Almost assuredly, steps have been taken to keep the satellites' brightness down so they don't interfere too much, but I think it's going to be one of those things where we'll just have to see what happens.

For now, though, we get a pretty cool light show crossing the sky at certain times. Speaking of which, if you'd like to see the Starlink satellites, there are several sites you can go to that will show when you can see them. One such site is satflare.com. You can track a number of different objects, like the International Space Station, as well as Starlink. All you have to do is double-click on the map where you live (make sure you zoom in), and it'll give you the times the satellites are visible from that location.

Just another good reason to get out and enjoy the mysteries of the night sky.

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Malan is entertainment editor and astronomy columnist for the News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Joe? Send an email to jmalan@enidnews.com.

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