Thursday, March 26, 2020

Necklace of Lights

After a few days of incessant clouds and rain, early this morning the skies cleared enough for the gorgeousness of the spring constellations to be visible.

I took the precaution of downloading a constellation app on my phone, not wanting to struggle to identify individual star names which I had long forgotten. Antares, Arcturus, Deneb, Altair, Vega...
To the south-east,  a loop of three bright planets. Venus or Jupiter, I wondered. I tapped open the phone app, and it confirmed that  I was looking at Jupiter, a noticeably more orange than red Mars, and Saturn.

The Big Dipper was overhead, with patchy cloud around it. I continued walking uphill to the highest point in my neighborhood, and then froze as I saw a stream of lights moving in a line, from Arcturus towards Vega. The moving lights continued, on and on for a good couple of minutes. My glasses were fogging up from my breath, and I removed them for a few seconds, still watching the now-blurry moving lights, not quite sure of what they might be.

High altitude aircraft? Drones? Perchance, even UFOs, aliens come to save earthlings from the follies of the coronavirus pandemic?

I pulled out my phone to see if I could capture the movement, but the optics weren't powerful enough to get a good image of the moving lights. The screen just seemed to capture unrelieved blackness. I popped the phone back into my pocket, and continued my walk under the starry skies, admiring the steady shine of the three planets whenever my direction took me towards them.

Coming back into the house, it struck me that what I saw might have been a sequence of linked satellites, so I googled those to find that what I seen was the Starlink Satellites, launched in December last year and January this year.

 Astronomical mystery of the necklace of lights solved!

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