What Were the Lights in the Sky? SpaceX Starlink Satellites Likely Caused Strange Line

A line of lights streaking across the sky that left skywatchers in some parts of the U.S. confused was likely caused by SpaceX's Starlink satellites, which launched on Tuesday.

On Wednesday night, people took to Twitter to ask whether anyone else had seen what looked like a string of lights in the sky. Tweets came from areas including Pasadena, Leemore and San Bernardino in California, and Glendale and Tucson in Arizona.

SpaceX launched 60 satellites from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, using its Falcon 9 rocket. The company has put over 1,400 satellites that beam internet signal into orbit so far, and hopes to send up 12,000.

One Twitter user wrote: "don't know what we just witnessed over Pasadena now but it was a slow moving line of lights in the sky that lasted for several minutes."


A woman shared a video of the phenomenon on Facebook, in which a person can be heard asking "what is it?"

She wrote: "9:00 PM Wednesday night Sitting outside in the backyard in Glendale and looked up in the sky and saw this unbelievable display of lights moving across the sky look like a string of large Christmas [light emoji] about 30 total flying west north west for about a minute then disappeared!

"Ok please tell us what it was ??!! OhMyGosh it was so freaky!"

What was this line of moving lights in the sky over Joshua Tree??? pic.twitter.com/wICoo5p8dF

— Saadat Awan (@Saadat_Awan) May 6, 2021

Anyone else see all those lights in the sky flying in single file line? At least 50 of them . #area51 #nevada #highdesert #elonmusk #tothemoon #stars #moon #doge pic.twitter.com/dJwQiQZGsq

— Josue Quintero (@itsJosuenotJose) May 6, 2021

Arizona broadcaster AZ Family reported many viewers, including some from San Diego, contacted them on Wednesday to report seeing around a dozen lights in the sky at around 9 p.m. KOLD News 13 similarly reported people contacting the station, with some fearing they had seen aliens.

This isn't the first time that a SpaceX rocket has likely left people puzzled. The sightings came after people reported spotting a mysterious object traveling over Seattle on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, National Weather Service Seattle tweeted the sightings were likely associated with the SpaceX Starlink satellite launch.

Newsweek has contacted SpaceX and the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for comment.

Aaron Boley, associate professor of astronomy at the University of British Columbia told City News the lights were Starlink satellites.

"That initial deployment phase is characterized by a line of satellites as they slowly spread out in their orbits, and they're very bright at that time for a number of reasons," he said.

Those who would also like to see Starlink traveling across the sky can use the Findstarlink.com website. By typing in their postcode or coordinates, users around the world can get advice on when they are visible.

On its website, SpaceX says it has been working with experts to reduce the brightness of its satellites, and that it aims for them invisible to the naked eye a week after they launch. Once they are launched, the satellites have three stages of orbit, rising from 235 miles above Earth to 340 miles in the final two.

spacex starlink light in sky, getty
A long-exposure image shows the trail of a group of SpaceX's Starlink satellites passing over the countryside some 185 km north of Montevideo near Capilla del Sauce, Uruguay, on February 6, 2021. MARIANA SUAREZ/AFP via Getty Images