Did You See The Row of Lights in the Sky Over Illinois and Iowa This Weekend?
I was back home in the western suburbs of Chicago for the long Labor Day weekend. Saturday night, I had my girlfriend and some of my closest friends over for pizza and beers in the driveway (in true Midwestern fashion). We were indulging in some good eats and some ice-cold beverages when one of us noticed something ominous in the night sky...
I don't remember who noticed it first, but they pointed to the sky, which was mostly clear on a lightly humid evening. There it was... a steady row of small, glowing lights, following one after another in a straight line. "UFOs?," my best friend, Mike, asked. "What the hell is that?," I recall asking, thinking the Twisted Teas we were sipping had led to group visions of some kind...
The five of us watched the lights ascend one after another until they ostensibly flew so high that they were out of sight (or their light had went dark). It was as if each one reached the point of the first light and then flamed out. This stream of lights lasted for a couple of minutes before they all disappeared without a trace. My friend's camera was sharp enough to prove to others that we weren't crazy (nor that intoxicated).
Doing what we know how to do in this day and age, my friend, Mike, made a Facebook post asking if anyone else had just witnessed what we had. Not only did others witness it, they, unlike us, knew what it was: Starlink.
Billed as "internet from space for humans on Earth," Starlink is a "satellite internet constellation" operated by Elon Musk's company SpaceX, the same company that manufactures spacecrafts. Starlink is responsible for providing internet connection to countries overseas, with plans for mobile phone coverage starting next year as an effort to eliminate "dead zones."
Nearly 12,000 satellites are planned to be deployed, with the potential for 42,000 in the future. SpaceX claimed they had more than 1.5 million subscribers in May 2023, a number that has surely risen after this weekend's impromptu light show:
Starlink is the world's first and largest satellite constellation using a low Earth orbit to deliver broadband internet capable of supporting streaming, online gaming, video calls and more.
Leveraging advanced satellites and user hardware coupled with our deep experience with both spacecraft and on-orbit operations, Starlink delivers high-speed, low-latency internet to users all over the world. - per the official Starlink website
To our surprise, it seemed everyone on our friends' list was aware of Starlink. Not even my good friend, who follows all things space, seemed to know what it was. My girlfriend keeps up with Elon Musk's many different ventures, and she wasn't aware of this massive, intergalactic project intent on bringing global internet access to various countries around the world.
Not only can you find out more about Starlink on the official website, you can also put in your location so you can discover when the string of satellites will be visible in your area via the "Find Starlink" website!