What Are Those Strange Lights in the Michigan Night Sky?

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Fenton, MI – December 30, 2019

Have you seen the line-up of lights in the western sky over Michigan recently? No, it’s not UFOs. And it is not a celestial manifestation of the Christmas season. There is a much more mundane explanation. Although several observers got a bit excited over the appearance of the lights.

A vertical line of lights in the Michigan Sky posted on Reddit by u/fruitfulimp

SpaceX Starlink

The lights are not stars or planets, they are satellites launched by SpaceX for the Starlink internet network. What SpaceX describes as the world’s most advanced broadband internet system. The Starlink website provides details on the missions. “With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet, and a global network unbounded by ground infrastructure limitations, Starlink will deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable.”

The most recent launch in November is the second such event in the process of building the network. A total of 60 satellites are released into orbit with each excursion into space. The first launch occurred in May of this year. Starlink expects to have the system operational for North America in 2020 and globally by 2021.

Watch the November Launch

As the satellites move to their designated positions they become less visible. However, pictures just after deployment are incredible.

Photograph of the Starlink Satellites just after deployment from their May launch date / Photo Courtesy of space.com