Train of Elon Musk's Starlink satellites spotted in the night sky

A train of SpaceX's Starlink satellites has been mistaken for shooting stars after being spotted over Johannesburg, South Africa, above Gauteng province.

Published Aug 31, 2022 6:05 AM CDT
1 minute & 44 seconds read time

A trail of Starlink satellites from Elon Musk's SpaceX has been spotted flying overhead in the night sky of Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 30th, 2022.

Over 3,000 Starlink satellites are now in orbit since SpaceX began forming the satellite constellation in low Earth orbit (LEO) in 2019. SpaceX hopes to achieve global coverage by 2023, providing accessible Internet services to the entire planet. Currently, Starlink services 500,000 subscribers in 39 countries, with SpaceX focusing on bolstering coverage in remote and low-coverage areas first.

Reportedly, SpaceX plans to bring the Starlink service to Mozambique and Nigeria by September 2022, marking its first availability in African countries. The recent sighting of Starlink satellites over Gauteng, a small province in South Africa, sparked reports of potential meteors and shooting stars. However, weather forecaster Gauteng Weather noted on Twitter, "so-called 'meteor' spotted over Gauteng on the evening of Monday August 29th is most likely to just be the Starlink Satellite Train."

Train of Elon Musk's Starlink satellites spotted in the night sky 01 | TweakTown.com

Trains of Starlink satellites have been spotted numerous times across the planet, and can be located with the help of this website to aid in viewing them. The trains are more easily visible immediately following the launch of a new batch of satellites to orbit, as they are deployed at altitudes of just shy of 200 miles (321.8 kilometers) up before they gradually use their thrusters to raise themselves to a final orbital altitude of 340 to 350 miles (540 to 560 kilometers).

Similar sightings are expected to become more frequent as SpaceX plans to grow the size of its Starlink constellation to 42,000, adding to its already approved 12,000 satellites, with another 30,000 awaiting approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Read more: Growing Starlink constellation could affect future space observations

Read more: Elon Musk says Starlink will make up two thirds of all satellites soon

Read more: NASA letter to FCC warns of risks from SpaceX's Starlink expansion

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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