The 53 Starlink satellites travelled through the night sky on Saturday in a bright trail of lights
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Bizarre bright lights spotted over Australian skies are mistaken for UFOs but there is a much simpler explanation for the dazzling show

  • A mysterious trail of lights coursed through the night sky baffling Sydneysiders
  • Despite the UFO-like appearance, the lights were part of a SpaceX mission 
  • Dozens of broadband satellites were launched into the sky in a low-Earth orbit

A mysterious string of lights travelling across Sydney’s skies has baffled onlookers who thought it could be UFOs.

But the lights in the sky on Saturday night were actually a series of satellites launched by Elon Musk’s Starlink company.

The 53 satellites were launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 4.40pm and travelled south-east in a low-Earth orbit.

Australian National University astrophysicist Brad Tucker said the novel way they were launched made the satellites look as though they were flying in formation.

‘Each dot is an individual satellite launched metres apart, before slowly spreading out by hundreds of metres, he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘They always look weird… because they fly in these lines, or constellation.

‘We’re talking about a fairly close formation in a very tight orbit, and this is because they want this global [broadband] coverage.’

The 53 Starlink satellites travelled through the night sky on Saturday in a bright trail of lights

The 53 Starlink satellites travelled through the night sky on Saturday in a bright trail of lights

The satellites were the latest of more than 2,200 Starlink objects already launched – and is close to half of the SpaceX first-generation network of 4,408 satellites planned for launch.

Sydneysiders were able to catch a glimpse of the satellites as the timing of the launch meant they were visible from Earth for about two hours after sunset. 

‘You’re only going to see a satellite up to about two hours after sunset or before sunrise,’ Dr Tucker said.

‘And that is because the angle of the sun can still reflect off the satellites and then back down to Earth.’

Although broadband satellites are not knew, the SpaceX subsidiary is one of the first companies to launch satellites on such a large scale.

The budding broadband company provided internet to 32 countries and aims to connect people in ‘areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable’.

A remote Tongan community still cut off after January’s tsunami was connected last week and additional satellite internet terminals are en route to the Ukraine where the Russian invasion cut off their access.

The launch marked the ninth mission SpaceX has successfully logged in less than a month.  

The launch marked the ninth successful SpaceX mission in less than a month (Pictured, satellites launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 4:40pm May 14)

The launch marked the ninth successful SpaceX mission in less than a month (Pictured, satellites launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 4:40pm May 14)

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