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SpaceX Starlink satellites streak across Kingston skies

The Starlink satellite train above the Aurora Borealis, as seen by an astronaut onboard the International Space Station on April 13 2020. Photo via NASA.

Kingston residents were treated to a dazzling display in the night sky on Sunday night, and will get a chance to view it again, albeit it this time somewhat more dimly, on Monday night.

At around 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, a “satellite train” of Starlink satellites streaked across Kingston’s evening sky. The satellites travelled from the west to the northeast and were visible for approximately six minutes. The sight prompted many Kingstonians to take to social media and inquire about the phenomenon.

On Monday, April 20, the satellites will be only be visible (weather permitting) for about five minutes shortly after 9:30 p.m. while travelling from the west to the northeast, according to findstarlink.com. According to the site, a brighter viewing will also be possible on April 23, although at a decidedly less convenient hour for most Kingstonians: 4:36 a.m.

This satellite train consists of Starlink groups 5 and 6. Starlink is a group of satellites owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, with a stated purpose of providing broadband internet service to any location on Earth. SpaceX has so far launched hundreds of satellites into low Earth orbit, with a goal of about 12,000 of the fridge-sized objects in coming years.

The satellites are unusually reflective for their size, prompting some scientists to warn that they could eventually make some astronomical work, such as near-Earth asteroid tracking, more difficult. SpaceX has indicated that it is working on correcting the issue.

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