BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nope, this was not a comet, meteor shower, or alien shapeship. The chain of lights that appeared in the night sky over Buffalo Monday evening was the Starlink.
The Starlink passed over Western New York Monday night around 8 p.m. EST. Starlink is a chain of satellites, also known as a "satellite constellation," that reside in low-Earth orbit in outer space. A product of SpaceX, these have been launched and placed into orbit since 2019. The Starlink satellite system provides worldwide, broadband internet services.
When conditions are just right, Starlink can be visible in the sky anywhere across the globe. Earlier Monday evening there were also reports of the Starlink being spotted in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here in Buffalo, the clear sky and timing of the sunset Monday night allowed prime viewing for the passing of the Starlink.
Dr. John Crassidis is a UB Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering – his research with students which focuses on tracking satellites and debris in earth orbit is funded in part by a $5 Million dollar U.S. Air Force grant. He says, regarding Starlink launch sighting, “Starlink didn’t surprise me at all. There are a lot of satellites out there right ? So you can see a pattern of them in the night sky. So some people might see it and say – well there’s a formation of balloons flying by. But it was just Starlink. So I’m not surprised by that at all. You’re gonna see a lot more of that as we get more of those launches too.”
If the skies are clear tonight, you have a good chance of seeing Starlink in Western New York again on Tuesday around 6:30pm. You can track Starlink here: https://findstarlink.com/