A train of Starlink satellites made an appearance over the Okanagan Valley on Monday night.
The stream of lights, moving west to east, was reported visible by residents between Penticton and Lake Country at roughly 8:15 p.m.
A website dedicated to tracking Starlink, FindStarlink, says the satellites visible in the Okanagan were likely from a Sept. 18 launch at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
SpaceX has been launching batches of roughly 40 to 50 satellites into low-earth orbit at a pace of once per week, bringing the total number of satellites launched to date to 3,399.
SpaceX and its subsidiary Starlink are using the massive network of small satellites to provide high-speed internet access to anywhere on the planet.
“The Starlink project operates about 30 to 40 per cent of all satellites in low-Earth orbit," says Aaron Boley, associate professor in the department of physics and astronomy at UBC. "And so their method of just launching so many satellites at once in order to maintain this large constellation is why we're seeing these sites... now it's frequent enough that people are actually able to notice that.”
Boley explained the satellites are "stacked tightly" within the rockets; after launch, they're dispersed at very small relative speeds. This is what causes that chain, Boley told Glacier Media.
Over time, that chain spreads out by design, as the satellites are tested to make sure they're operational.
“Then they're raised to their higher orbit, where they are going to have their main mission,” he says.
with files from Alanna Kelly